Marc Bonner




Institutional affiliation

Department of Media Culture and Theatre, University of Cologne


Research Fellow/Post-Doc

Research interests relevant to game philosophy

Info on current research project (2017-2022, funded by the German Research Association):
Whether as archipelagos bathed by the ocean, valleys limited by steep slopes or masses of houses as far as the horizon, open world computer games simulate a coherent vastness and evoke an exploratory spirit by complex networks of diverse topological strategies. This project starts with the finding that unmanageable vastness and the urge for exploration in games with open world structures become ends in themselves. This marks a change of focus in worldbuilding distal to traditional narrative concepts. Just as in-game world experience is conditioned by behaviour patterns of reality, it also regulates – like film and photography before – the comprehension and appropriation of actuality.
This project is a transdisciplinary approach towards the architectonics of digital game worlds. Thereby both the technical constitution of the digital space-image and its communication of the game intrinsic space as well as the players’ perception are of special interest. In regard to cultural history the critical research will contextualize established aesthetics and strategies of artificial adventure spaces like landscape gardens, theme parks, natural preserves as well as dioramas and photographies. This will be merged with theories of urbanistic and anthropogeography. As databases computer games are based on modularity and variability and use distinct techniques of illusion like sky box or interior mapping.
The investigation focuses on the layout of digital game worlds and its complex patterns which generate and govern a media specific distillate of historically habituated man-made action patterns that derive from the hunter-gatherer era. Today the latter continue to have an effect as aesthetical experiences. Furthermore, both the usage of distinct biomes and architectural styles as well as adaptions of physical real places of popular culture’s collective memory are of interest. The media-centred analysis contains both approaches, aesthetics of production and aesthetics of reception. Thus it will provide the heuristics for future research.

Overall info:
Having a background in art history with main focus on architecture and architectural theory my main interests in computer games concern depiction and use of architecture and urban landscapes as well as game intrinsic space and staging urbanism. Thus a philosophical approach from the aspects of spatial appropriation, navigation, play patterns and architectural quality is of special interest. The goal is to merge theorems and methods in order to build a transdisciplinary analysis model.

Publications and presentations relevant to game philosophy

Bonner, Marc: Offene-Welt-Strukturen: Architektur, Stadt- und Naturlandschaften im Computerspiel, Marburg: Büchner Verlag 2023. DOI:

Bonner, Marc: The World-Shaped Hall: On the Architectonics of the Open World Skybox and the Ideological Implications of the Open World Chronotope, in: Game | World | Architectonics – Transdisciplinary Approaches on Structures and Mechanics, Levels and Spaces, Aesthetics and Perception, hrsg. von Marc Bonner, Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Publishing 2021, S. 65-98. DOI:

Bonner, Marc: Introduction – Prospect onto the Architectonics of Game Worlds, in: Game | World | Architectonics – Transdisciplinary Approaches on Structures and Mechanics, Levels and Spaces, Aesthetics and Perception, hrsg. von Marc Bonner, Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Publishing 2021, S. 1-16. DOI:

Bonner, Marc: How Science Fiction is Embodied in Level Structures: Singular Spaces in Computer Game Interiors and Game Mechanics, in: Science Fiction Film & Television and Gaming, Special Issue of the SFFT Journal, hrsg. von Cameron Kunzelman und Darshana Jayemanne, XXX 2021, Vol 14, Issue 2, 2021 (forthcoming)

Bonner, Marc: Piercing all Layers of the Anthroposphere – On Spatialization and Architectural Possibilism in Hitman, in: Architectonics of Game Spaces, The Spatial Logic of the Virutal and Its Meaning for the Real, hrsg. von Andri Gerber und Ulrich Götz, München: Transcript 2019, S. 215-232.

“On Striated Wilderness and Prospect Pacing: Rural Open World Games as Liminal Spaces oft he Man-Nature Dichotomy”, in: DiGRA 2018. The Game is the Message, University of Turin 25.-28. July 2018, Conference Proceedings, pp. 1-18. URL:

“Erkundung als virtuell-fiktionale Immersionsstrategie – Das prospect pacing der Open-World-Computerspiele als Spiegel nicht linearer Spieler-Einbindung”, in: Institut für Immersive Medien Kiel (Eds.): Jahrbuch Immersiver Medien 2016. Interfaces – Netze – Virtuelle Welten, Marburg: Schüren 2017, pp. 38-57

“Puzzle About The Island – Multi-Perspective Studies on Knowledge in The Witness”, in: 10th International Conference on the Philosophy of Computer Games, Knowledge, University of Malta 01.-04. November 2016, Conference Proceedings, pp. 1-16. URL:

“Ambiguous Play Pattern: A Philosophical Approach to the Refuge-Prospect Theory in Urban Open World Games by Merging Deleuze/Guattari and de Certeau”, in: 9th International Conference on the Philosophy of Computer Games, Meaning and Computer Games
Berlin, BTK Berlin 14.-17. Oktober 2015, Conference Proceedings, pp. 1-16. URL:

“APERchitecTURE – Interferierende Architektur- und Raumkonzepte als Agens der Aperture Sciences Inc.”, in: Thomas Hensel, Britta Neitzel and Rolf F. Nohr (Eds.): “The cake is a lie”. Polyperspektivische Betrachtungen des Computerspiels am Beispiel von „Portal“, hrsg. von, Reihe Medienwelten, Bd. 26, Münster: LIT Verlag 2015, pp. 75-105

“Analyzing the Correlation of Game Worlds and Built Reality: Depiction, Function and Mediality of Architecture and Urban Landscapes”. DIGRA-Conference Proceedings 2014, University of Utah, 2014, pp. 1-14. URL:

“Depiction and Use of Outer Space in Computer Games using the examples of Mass Effect and Dead Space”. Presentation on Cosmography Conference, Falmouth University, Cornwall 2014.

“Digitale Spielarchitektur und ihr leiblicher Raum – Über das affektive Erfahren des Spielers und den Transfer von Atmosphären gebauter Wirklichkeiten”. In: Zwischen|Welten. Atmosphären im Computerspiel, Christian Huberts and Sebastian Standke (Eds.) Verlag Werner Hülsbusch, Glückstadt 2014, p. 210-223.

“Scale the Colossal: Hypertrophic Architecture as Spatial Challenge and its System of Meaning in Computer Games”. In: Kunsttexte, E-Journal für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte, 2016

“Who Needs Enemies? Architecture as Sole or Dominant Agent in Game Design”. Presentation on DIGRA 2015: Diversity of play: Games – Cultures – Identities. Leuphana University, Lüneburg 2015.


architecture, cityscape and natural landscape, game world, urbanism, navigation, open world games, prospect-refuge theory, wilderness, rhythmanalysis, play pattern, philosophy, spatial theory, cultural studies


Marc Bonner


game studies, art history, architectural theory, media studies