Simulated metaphors of love: How the game The Marriage applies metaphors to simulate a love relationship

Sebastian Martin Möring

    Publikation: Konference artikel i Proceeding eller bog/rapport kapitelBidrag til bog/antologiForskningpeer review


    Recently several games about love relationships have been published, such as The Marriage (Humble 2006, see figure 1), Love (Contrebasse 2010, see figure 2) and My Divorce (Douville 2010). At first play they do not really reveal what they are about, as they are semiotically abstract, i.e. geometrical forms are floating through a playing field showing behaviors that are seemingly not easy to be connected to their source systems. Only their titles give a hint regarding the source system they are based on – love. Ian Bogost describes this as an “ambiguity between its [The Marriage’s] title and the behaviors it implements” (Bogost 2011, 14).
    The focus of this chapter is the representation of love in the graphically abstract game The Marriage. As an abstract game about love it does not, for instance, depict any anthropomorphic avatars like the ones found in The Sims 3 (The Sims Studio 2009) but consists of abstract geometrical shapes instead. In Game Studies some authors tend to call the less detailed and more abstract aspects of simulation games “metaphorical” (e.g. Crawford 2003, 29–31; Salen and Zimmerman 2004, 423; Juul 2005, 170–175; Bogost 2011, 17). Most often they apply a distinction drawn from the field of rhetoric between literal and non-literal speech, of which the latter is often referred to as being metaphorical. Thus, one can say there seem to exist two different kinds of games: (a) detailed, realistic and mimetic simulations and (b) abstract and non-realistic metaphors.
    This leads to the following question concerning the representation of love in The Marriage: if The Sims 3 is a more or less detailed and realistic simulation of love relationships, is The Marriage consequently a metaphor? How does The Marriage represent love?
    My hypothesis is that game love in the case of The Marriage is a simulation of our largely metaphorically (and metonymically) structured concept of love on the levels of abstract semiotics and equally abstract mechanics and dynamics. Before I can discuss this thesis I will present some ways in which The Marriage has been discussed in Game Studies with regard to metaphor so far (Juul 2007; Rusch 2009; Begy 2010; Bogost 2011). I will introduce the terms (a) simulation (Frasca 2003; Juul 2005; Hartmann 2005; Aarseth 2004; Begy 2010) and (b) metaphor (Lakoff and Johnson 1980; Kövecses 2010). Eventually I will examine our metaphorically structured understanding of love and finally analyze how The Marriage represents the metaphors of love on the level of its semiotics, mechanics and dynamics.
    TitelPlaying With Affections: The Game Love Reader
    RedaktørerJessica Enevold, Esther MacCallum-Stewart
    UdgivelsesstedNorth Carolina, USA
    ForlagMacfarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Box 61, Jefferson, North Carolina 28640, USA
    ISBN (Trykt)978-0-7864-9693-8
    ISBN (Elektronisk)978-1-4766-1878-4
    StatusUdgivet - 2014


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