This contribution argues principally that we ought to be able to conceive of computer games as ontologically real since they embody, like any other component of our broader, culturally endowed and constructed, sense of reality, characteristic aspects of three principal types of cultural units that we shall refer to as material, immaterial and mediated cultural artifacts.
The complex blends of phenomenal experience we conjure up as we engage enactively in various forms of gameplay in the fictional possible worlds of digital games are seen as culturally inherited, commonplace kinds of experience that blend seamlessly with, and link meaningfully to, our experiences of many other types of material, immaterial and mediated cultural artifacts that we casually interact with on a day to day basis in similar, but nonetheless quite different, ways.
I also argue that all our enactive experiences involving interactions with blends of material, immaterial and mediated artifacts can be seen as constituent facets of our very rich, culturally constructed everyday experience of what we refer to normally as the actual world, the real world, or “reality”.
Further, I claim that these experiences, whatever form they may take, and whatever effects they may have on our personal and collective ways of “being in the world”, and our shared relationships with other beings, human or otherwise, with whom we share this world, are all, in this particular sense, real too.
On the basis of the above considerations, it appears it ought to be possible to learn a good deal more about our on-going relationships with both the real world, ourselves and others, by focusing philosophically (and scientifically) on how the fictional worlds of computer games are experienced and appraised by players and others they may encounter during gameplay, and on which, if any, meaningful relationships players are able to establish between their gameplay experiences and their day to day experiences of interactions with other blends of material, immaterial and mediated cultural artifacts that we consider part of the real world as we know it.
If this way of reasoning about such matters is a viable one, we will probably also be able to learn a lot more about computer game fictional possible worlds too by focusing on alternative ways of describing and understanding our day to day experiences of the real world, and our own intimate interactive relationships with this world, of which computer games, their material platforms and their immaterial fictional possible worlds are of course only one tiny – but very real – part.