Post-digital games: The Influence of Nostalgia in Indie Games' Graphic Regimes
Keywords:post-digital, nostalgia, analogue aesthetics, graphics, non-photorealism, believability, immersion, retro-gaming, hand-drawn
AbstractThis paper approaches the visual alternatives to photorealistic computer games graphics â and in particular those influenced by analogue aesthetics â that appear to become more and more common in the indie game scene. The release of a great number of retro-games with pixelated aesthetics, the imminent publication of many analogue-looking video games such as Cuphead and Future Unfolding and the realization of the first hand-crafted video game, Lumino City, are symptoms of a change of taste in the game industry, that must be addressed. In this paper, we will try to situate this phenomenon in the broader context of the post-digital and, in particular, we will link it to the idea of nostalgia. Some semiotic tools such as the idea of constraint and the dichotomy plaisir/jouissance will also be useful to shed some light on this trend and on its aesthetic entails. Along with some theoretical considerations on these topics and on some aesthetic features particularly relevant for digital games (such as believability and immersion) we will focus on some successful contemporary indie games featuring retro or analogue aesthetics. Within the post-digital paradigm the analogue and digital, we argue, aren't perceived as antithetical, but available to many exciting forms of hybridization. The result of this mix is not likely to replace the photorealistic style of AAA games, but offers a valid visual alternative to it, one that promises to bring some heterogeneity among digital games' graphic regimes.