Loading World: (re)Creating Life, Nature and Cosmos in Evolutionary Computer Games

Mackie, William Gavin. 2009. Loading World: (re)Creating Life, Nature and Cosmos in Evolutionary Computer Games. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

As a generalised field of study, artificial life has produced specific meanings and narratives about what it means to be alive: structured around the concepts of code, information, evolution, connectionism, emergence and cybernetics that connect silicon and carbon life together. Evolutionary computer games and popular programs have introduced the general player and user to advanced artificial life creations, with games based on the nurturing and breeding of silicon creatures placed within new digital natures conceived as computational regimes. Considered is the question of how it has become possible to talk of silicon entities as being alive, and to explore their relationship with carbon life as presented within evolutionary computer games. Similarities between digital and material proposed within computational regimes are also investigated. Playing computer games is developed as a productive practice that constructs meanings, stories and narratives within play. Tracing spiritual and scientific myths and narratives of construction, creation and change, reveals how common stories about life, nature and cosmos are employed in the building of bonds between silicon and carbon. Evolutionary computer games are presented as actively promoting themselves as artificial life products creating links with the life and biological sciences. Meaning produced within play is shown to naturalise and normalise specific definitions of life steeped in neo·Darwinian evolutionism and cybernetics, and how our digital creations have become perfected examples of the essence of this life. Whether this conceptualisation of life, nature and cosmos works within computational regimes is questioned and discussed. Reflecting similar arguments contesting the neo·Darwinian evolutionary perspective within biology, the assumptions employed within this framework are investigated and challenged. Utilising Bruno Latour's program of political ecology and his concepts of proposition and habit. An alternative framework is suggested to examine artificial life, utilising Bruno Latour's program of political ecology, his concepts of proposition and habit, and our relation with these entities.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



computer games, artificial life, silicon, carbon, political ecology, Bruno Latour

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

02 Jun 2020 09:52

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 15:41



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