The Semiosis of Architectural Identity in The Witcher 3

Gabriele ARONI


The representation of space in digital games is symbolic and rule-based rather than uniquely spatial, thus virtual space bears significance, be it for narratological reasons, or for more stringent reasons of gameplay. Virtual architecture might be more apt to be analyzed as a system of signs, as, unlike real architecture, its very existence is for the communication of information to the player, and the communicative aspect is no mere accident or addition to other functions. We will utilize the semiotic frameworks put into place by Umberto Eco as regards architecture as mass communication and Brian Upton’s as concerns digital games, with the concept of “ludic sign”, to “read” the architectural design of Polish game The Witcher 3, as the role of architecture in world-building is of important metaphorical and symbolic value to the game. The Witcher 3 adopts a particular style, which diverges from the standard fantasy settings, and the dichotomy between the main game and its expansion Blood & Wine, set in a faux Italy/Southern France, is a perfect example of how virtual architecture carries a symbolic value and a communicative aspect and is not a mere backdrop for the action.

Keywords: Semiotics; Digital games; Virtual architecture; Cultural identity; Communication

DOI: 10.24193/jmr.35.4