Urban Shivers: Recoding Actual Space in Disco Elysium
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Interface RPG Semiosis the Image of the City Computer Games Urban Space Actual Virtual Disco Elysium Recoding

How to Cite

Medvedeva, A. (2022). Urban Shivers: Recoding Actual Space in Disco Elysium. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 4(3), 157-175. https://doi.org/10.46539/gmd.v4i3.318


The functioning of urban space in games is often passive, since the city acts as an object of observation, a scenery for the player’s actions. In the Disco Elysium game, the city receives its voice, soul, and will, which the player can observe by activating the “Shivers” skill. This study analyzes how the “Shivers” skill encodes the actual space of the city and what functions it performs for the player. We used the theoretical frame of K. Lynch and identified five patterns of encoding paths, boundaries, nodes, landmarks, and time. Each of these patterns symbolically rethinks the actual space, translating it into the virtual language of artistic techniques. The analysis revealed that the use of a unifying interface for displaying mental chains, including the “Shivers” skill, shifts the focus from interpreting the visual appearance of space to drawing an analogy between the symbolic recoding of this space and the cognitive architecture of the protagonist. Thus the analogy is transformed into a “conciliatory contrast”. There is no need for a total renewal of space while a combination of conflicting qualities preserves, maintaining the essence of each of them.

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