Cara Ellison and the Poetics of Space
January 3, 2015 3:04 AM   Subscribe

In Kentucky Route Zero Act II Shannon asks Conway, "Are we inside or outside?" Shannon's line is a reference to Gaston Bachelard's "The Poetics of Space" written in 1958. Bachelard's "Poetics of Space" is probably the most important book that most game designers have never read; it explicitly connects architecture to how people will experience it, rather than the trend in 1958, which was to treat architecture like spectacle. Bluntly speaking, Bachelard said back in 1958 that games are not just graphics. They are architecture that create an experience. He would have made an excellent level designer.
posted by Sebmojo (13 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I read that book when studying architecture, and probably only got 10% of it at the time. Maybe I'll revisit it, along with this game that I've never heard of but which looks wonderful.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:28 AM on January 3, 2015

I can highly recommend Kentucky Route Zero. It is strange and beautiful. I'm very grateful to Mefite Strange Interlude for bringing it to my attention.
posted by Quilford at 5:43 AM on January 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

If this post inspires anybody to play KRZ (which everyone should, it was my game of the year for both 2013 and 2014, probably will take 2015 as well) make sure to downloads and play the free interlude episodes off the website. They are super experimental and give information and depth to the characters and settings from the main game.
posted by JimBennett at 6:35 AM on January 3, 2015

KRZ is so subtle and quiet that I sort of stopped playing and never went back to it. I recall liking it, but I think re-entering that world might take too much cognitive effort.

It's a pity, but this is how I experience most games now. Even good games like this aren't worth getting over the "load the game" hump, anymore.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:20 AM on January 3, 2015

The book sounded intriguing to me at first; then I read the quotes on the Good Reads page, and...holy crap. That's some turgid, pretentious stuff.

Kentucky Route Zero, on the other hand, has been on my Steam wish list for a while. Maybe this weekend.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:30 AM on January 3, 2015

One of my favorite books. (As a novelist, I design games that play you.)
posted by dontoine at 9:26 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by triage_lazarus at 10:49 AM on January 3, 2015

If you're not already reading everything Cara Ellison writes, what are you even doing.

(People keep saying Giant Bomb should hire her but honestly at this point without Ryan, without Patrick, with Dan, they don't even deserve her.)
posted by kmz at 12:07 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

For a while, Cardboard Computer was selling a strange phone, thoroughly crystal-tested at

What its ultimate connection to Kentucky Route Zero might be remains a mystery, but I love that they do things like this.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:59 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've always viewed TPoS as a treatise on small space living; and the consideration one must give, or does give; to appreciating the entirety of no having huge expanses of area to consider or reflect on. Specifically; corners. Big rooms just don't lend themselves to the consideration; or even the realization of having corners, be they on the ceiling or on the floor.
posted by buzzman at 2:36 PM on January 3, 2015

re: "Are we inside or outside?" dhartung linked to this VICE clip "about Vito Acconci, a onetime poet, musician, and filmmaker turned architect, who definitely represents the humanist end of whatever you want to call cutting-edge architecture these days. A lot of what he talks about isn't practical in the strictest sense, but it is definitely rooted in the human experience of architecture as a space, a place, and even an expression of culture or self."

posted by kliuless at 3:59 PM on January 3, 2015

The Poetics of Space is one of those books I always meant to check out but never got around to.

I think I will check out Kentucky Route Zero sometime soon. It sounds fascinating.
posted by homunculus at 12:36 AM on January 4, 2015

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