The Crisis of Reality: Half-Life Alyx and the Perfect Simulation [EN]

David Ferragut

 

Most significant changes in the history of video games are brought about by the confluence of
two factors: the appearance of simulated environments from a new perspective (for example,
the transition from two dimensions to three dimensions), and the development of new ways of
interaction which allow the player to assimilate and manipulate the environment with features
extracted from that new perception (the appearance of the multi-axis joystick as opposed to
the former four-way D-pad). Virtual reality can recreate nearly perfect simulations by unfolding
a universe that invades the player’s entire visible and audible space. With the release of Half-
Life: Alyx, simulated worlds have become increasingly consistent, since every element of the
virtual universe can be manipulated just like in real life. Several gaming publications have
already considered this game the first example to leverage the potential of VR, the latest
technology in immersive media. To understand this phenomenon, we firstly analyse the
transformative role of VR technology in the future of video games, understood as immersive
devices. Secondly, we identify the rules of interaction that govern video game fiction and
examine how they might be challenged by Half-Life: Alyx. And thirdly, we consider the
epistemological and cognitive problems raised by simulations with this higher degree of
realism.

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