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The Metaphor-Simulation Paradox in the Study of Computer Games

Sebastian Möring
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Sebastian Möring: School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong

International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations (IJGCMS), 2013, vol. 5, issue 4, 48-74

Abstract: This article discusses the metaphor-simulation paradox in the study of computer games. It is derived from three observations. Firstly, often when authors use the concept of metaphor with regard to games they use it in conceptual and textual vicinity to the concept of simulation. Secondly, the concept of metaphor is often applied to signify seemingly abstract games in opposition to mimetic simulations. Both observations can be made within an artgame discourse of the study of computer games as well as within the more general discourse of the study of computer games. Thirdly, however, the definitions for simulation as well as for metaphor are strikingly similar which culminates in the metaphor-simulation paradox i.e. the notions of metaphor and simulation are not distinct enough in order to make the distinctions which are usually made with these notions with regard to computer games. In an attempt to reconcile both notions with regard to computer games this article will make three suggestions. Observing that simulations are often called metaphors with regard to their degree of reduction or abstraction the first suggestion argues that simulations are essentially synecdochic and hence metaphoric when following a broad notion of metaphor. Based on the assumption that simulation is not a matter of similarity the second suggestion proposes to distinguish between a first order simulation and a second order simulation which can then be considered metaphoric. As a third and final suggestion the author offers to consider simulation and metaphor as related via the notion of the model. Simulations are based on models and metaphors provide models such that one can speak of metaphor based simulations.

Date: 2013
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