Felix Schniz is the director of studies and co-founder of the master’s programme Game Studies and Engineering at the University of Klagenfurt. He originally graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in English and American studies from the University of Mannheim, where he subsequently joined the master’s programme Cultural Transformations of the Modern Age: Literature and Media. With a thesis exploring the metamodern tendencies of the third-person shooter Spec Ops: The Line (2012), he concluded the programme with excellence. Today, Felix Schniz furthermore is a PhD candidate and research assistant at University of Klagenfurt, as well head of the Klagenfurt Critical Game Lab. The focus of his dissertation are experiential dimensions of videogames.
The Flanêur in a Masticator: An Experience of Thought through Virtual Walking inAmnesia: A Machine for Pigs.
Lecture, Saturday, 19th October, 16:00 – 16:30
The Romantic tradition of the Lustwandel experiences a Renaissance in virtuality. Walking simulators – videogames that want us to focus on our primordial sense of existence – revive the traditions of the philosophical ritual. They transform the exploration of fictional landscapes into an interactive work of art that aims to foster emotions. Depending on the design principles of the videogame world, players can undergo impactful processes of understanding.
I analyse the experiential quality of the horror game Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs that, as I argue, arises from its foundational conception of players as flâneurs and the concurrent subversion of this motif. Set at the dawn of the 20th century, players navigate industrialist Oswald Mandus through a fabulaic search for his missing sons that takes him from the safety of his manor into death by the maws of his own meat-processing factory. I portray how the game counterpoints freedom and automation in mechanical, as well as aesthetical dimensions, transmuting the videogame’s archetypical eclectic procedurality into the machinated catharsis of a protagonist who is unable to outsmart the machine he created.
Ultimately, I demonstrate Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs as being capable of facilitating a philosophical experience in the sense of a recondite revelation. Mandus’ swansong of the creator devoured by its own beast is presented as a tale of early Modern naiveté. Likewise, the players are inclined to reflect upon themselves as mimicking victims of machinated horrors: by immersing into the game, I propose for discussion, they succumb to their very own ‘machine for pigs.’0