Hidden Levels is a project that documents the highly personalized relationship people have to video games. Electronic games have been around for about 50 years, and they have shaped our reality in ways that reach far beyond teenager escapism. We are now in an era when both the current youth and older generations have been shaped by their interaction with video games, and it is the stories of all these generations that this project wants to uncover.
Video games have for a long time been overlooked as mere toys and low culture, but as history progresses, gamers are growing older and we are now at a stage that we can investigate the long term interaction and deep connections that gamers build up to the video games that shape their being. Video gaming is now at a stage not unlike cinema was during the forties of the last century. The medium and its participants are becoming more mature, and the long term effects and stories of the medium’s aging are starting to crystalize.
This maturing, a coming of age story of players and their games, is however poorly documented. A lot of historical resources have been aimed at documenting and preserving the history of the games themselves. Less attention has been given to the documentation of the oral histories of gamers. Stories that show us in what way gaming has influenced its players in highly personalized contexts. It is these personal stories that Hidden Levels want to collect and frame.
The collection of these personal histories will start its life as a website on which all interviews will be published, after which the project might also take on different forms of publication. Currently, I am collecting interviews of gamers with a wide variety of backgrounds and different age brackets. In these interviews I focus on highly personal memories that people have of their gaming histories and in what ways gaming has shaped the wider context of being for the people being interviewed. I want to encompass the ugly and the beautiful of gaming with this project, refraining from judgement and creating a safe and comfortable atmosphere in which people can share their stories with me.
Here are a small selection articles on the topic of game preservation and its games culture impact.
Thomas Walskaar is a graphic designer and media researcher. He holds a MA in Media Design and Communication from The Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam and a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design from Ravensbourne University in London. His personal research is directed at the frailty of storage technology, and the importance of the individual to store with caution..
Walskaar has worked with publishing - print and web, visual identities, events coordination, as well as photography and video production.
This project worked is Save as project. Save as is a platform for 360° media exploration. Save as investigates in media, alternative publishing practices, and observes tensions which emanate from them. Save as is also an independent publisher of printed and non printed matter. Save as is a project by Thomas Walskaar and Léna Robin, initiated in 2017.