VR+Space readings

Resources on Virtual Space

References on architecture and space, for the Master Studio module at the Institute of Architecture and Media, Summer Semester 2016 [x]

On Virtual Reality

  • Ivan Sutherland invented SketchPad at MIT in 1963; the first CAD program for which he received the Turing Award. Later he wrote a short essay “The Ultimate Display” that in short defined the ultimate goals for VR from as early as 1965. He also developed and patented ideas on which modern HMDs are founded upon published in “A head-mounted 3 dimensional display” (1968). He has taught many students which became significant contributors in the field of Computer Graphics such as Ed Catmull (Catmull Clarke algorithm, Pixar founder), Gouraud and Crow.
  • Marvin Minsky – Telepresence (1980)
  • Jaron Lanier is considered as one of the fathers of VR, founder of VPL research (1983-1990) which came up with significant advancements in the field by creating a functional VR system with HMDs, suits and gloves [x]. TEDx Speech, about avatars and perception [x].
  • Synthetic pleasures documentary [x]
  • Vision Summit Keynote 2.2016 [x] (VR/AR Unity Summit)
  • Khan Academy – Early Renaissance in Italy: the fifteenth century [x] (the invention of perspective)

Virtual exhibitions/apps/examples:

  • 1014 [x]
  • Chrystal’s Gallery [x]
  • UCLA – New New Wight [x]

On architecture and space / beyond the material / nature of space

  • Bernard Tschumi – The Architectural Paradox (1975) [x]
  • Umberto Eco – Function and the Sign: The Semiotics of Architecture (1976) [x]
  • Michel Foucault – Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias (1984) [x]
  • Walter Benjamin – The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936) [x]
  • Antonio Sant Elia – Manifesto of Futurist Architecture (1914) [x]
  • Peter Eisenman – Post-functionalism (1976)
  • David Harvey – Space as a keyword (2004)
  • Christopher Alexander – A city is not a tree (1966)

Game Studies:

Games / The history of gaming (Documentaries) :

  • The story of id software [documentary] – A very interesting documentary on the story of the team behind id software who innovated in multiple topics in the graphics and gaming field. They initially managed to bring scroller games to the PC, later developed full 3D FPS, and defined FPS game-play and level design (some of their titles are Comander Keen, Wolfenstein, doom, Quake).
  • Indie Game: The Movie (2012) – A documentary about the people behind Fez and Super Meat Boy, and the process of their development. Also contains an interview from the creator of Braid.
  • Atari: Game Over (Zak Penn 2014) – Zak Penn tries to find cartridges of the “ET The Extra-Terrestrial” game for the Atari 2600, which were allegedly buried in a New Mexico landfill. The game, developed in 5 weeks, just in time for Christmas, by an acclaimed game designer at a time, was proved a complete disaster for Atari -the greatest video game company at the time- and almost crushed the whole gaming industry. The film offers very insightful interviews with key people of Atari, which was the birth of video game design.
  • Video game: The movie (Jeremy Snead 2014) – A documentary on the history of video games up to now.
  • Jonathan Blow – Game Design – The Medium is the Message [x]

Video games and ethics: Tom Standage – The Culture War (Wired, 2006)

Paola Antonelli – Why I brought Pac-Man to MoMA [x]
John Maeda – Videogames Do Belong in the Museum of Modern Art [x]

Another more general reading is early game studies /play theory on the definition and cultural significance of games and play. Key readings are Johan Huizinga – Homo Ludens (1938) and Roger Caillois – Man, Play and Games (1958). A smaller part of the latter is “The definition of play, the classification of games“.

Joshua Glen Tanenbaum – What is design fiction? [x]


Game examples:

  • Portal / Portal 2 (2007/2011)
  • Monuments valley – A mobile app that twists space with Escher-like illusions.
  • Glitchspace (2016)
  • Superhot (2016)
  • The Witness (Jonathan Blow, 2016)
  • Myst (1995)
  • Second life (2001)
  • Stanley Parable (2011)
  • Braid (Jonathan Blow, 2008)
  • Keep talking and nobody explodes (2015)
  • Mountain (David O’Reilly, 2015) [x]

Some architects to look at: Ledoux, Boullee, Piranesi, Superstudio, Archigram, Lebbeus Woods, Aristide Antonas

Video Lectures:

  • Paul H. Fry – Introduction to Literary Theory / Open Yale Courses / Video lectures [x]


  • Payne & Barbera ed. – A dictionary of cultural and critical theory (2013)
  • Michael K. Hays – Architecture theory since 1968 (1998)
  • Henri Lefebvre – The production of space (1974)
  • Henri Bergson – The creative mind [The possible and the real] (1923)
  • Maurice Marleau-Ponty – Phenomenology of perception (1945)
  • Ettenne-Louis Boullee – Architecture, Essay on Art [x]
  • Gregory Bateson – Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972)
  • Nicholas Negroponte – Being digital (1995)
  • Elizabeth Grosz – Architecture from the outside, Essays on Virtual and Real Space [particularly chapter 5: Cyberspace, Virtuality and the Real] (2001)
  • Jean Baudrillard  – Simulacra and Simulation (1981)
  • Marshall McLuhan – Understanding media (1964)
  • Alexander R. Galloway – Gaming, Essays on Algorithmic Culture (University of Minnesota Press, 2006)
  • Michael Benedikt – Cyberspace, first steps (1991) [Liquid Architectures in Cyberspace, chapter by Marcos Novak]
  • Sky Nite – Virtual Reality Insider: Guidebook for the VR Industry (2014) [Easy, all around book, readable in half a day, IAM Library]
  • Sanford Kwinter – Architectures of Time (MIT Press, 2001) [IAM Library]
  • Chris Crawford – The art of computer game design (Osborne/McGraw-Hill, 1984)
  • Colin Cremin – Exploring Videogames with Deleuze and Guattari: Towards an affective theory of form (2015)
  • Daniela Bertol – Designing digital space, An architect’s guide to virtual reality (1997)
  • Raph Koster – A theory of fun, for game design (O’Reilly 2004) [IAM Library]
  • Oliver Bimber, Ramesh Raskar – Spatial Augmented Reality, Merging real and virtual worlds (A K Peters, 2005)
  • McKenzie Wark – Gamer Theory (Harvard University Press 2007) [IAM Library] [x]
  • Howard Rheingold – Virtual Reality (1992) [IAM Library]

Short stories:

  • Edwin Abbott Abbott – Flatland, A romance of many dimensions (1884) [x] A comically written book about word of 2-Dimensions, with victorian values.
  • E. M. Forster – The Machine Stops (1909)
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupery – The Little Prince (1943)
  • Italo Calvino – Invisible cities (1972)

Video Link Pool:

Daniel Cook: Game Design Theory I Wish I had Known When I StartedRalph Koster – Game Design for Games-As-Service | Design Fiction Primer | Jonathan Blow – Video Games and the Human Condition | Jonathan Blow – The How and Why | Near Future Laboratory – A Design Fiction Evening |