Reconstructing the Gothic in games and gaming : Gothic monsters and ideology in the story world and player experiences of Fallout 3
Published inJYU dissertations
© The Author & University of Jyväskylä
This dissertation research investigates the deployment of Gothic elements in digital games and player experiences of Gothic monsters. The Gothic is a rich and popular resource for games that, through representations of monstrosities and injustice, aims to induce in players a pleasurable feeling of discomfort, yet also reflects contemporary anxieties. The dissertation comprises three case studies of which the first two are close readings of the action role-playing game Fallout 3 and the third discourse analysis of transcribed player narration from Let’s Play (LP) gameplay videos. More specifically, the case studies discuss the dual role of Gothic monstrosities as a cause and consequence of the dystopia represented in the game world, Gothic ideology conveyed through multimodal means in the game and the players’ moral evaluations of its quasi-human Gothic monsters. The data for the first two case studies consisted of notes and screenshots systematically collected from the game, while the third case study examined transcribed narration from 20 different LP series of the game uploaded on YouTube. The findings show that, as well as monstrosities that are to be defeated and feared, games can also feature complex Gothic villain-heroes and sympathetic monsters whose actions and characterization are actively evaluated by players, as demonstrated in gameplay videos. These evaluations are influenced by whether the monsters are perceived as victims of injustice, making certain actions forgivable, or treacherous and therefore abhorrent. Their existence must make sense socially and biologically and be contextualized by the game world so that they can potentially enlist player sympathy. Spatial storytelling – such as items and notes left in the game space – can be used to convey narratives of past ideological horrors. Games can also reproduce traditional Gothic ideology such as othering, which takes on a dual role: players distance themselves from characters perceived as tyrannical, whereas characters ostracized by society evoke their sympathy. Players are morally autonomous and negotiate morality via humour, gossip and swearing in LP discourse. The Gothic continues to be complex, ambivalent, even contradictory in digital games, producing a sense of uncertainty during play. ...
- Artikkeli I: Piittinen, Sari Constructing a dystopian game world: Gothic mon-strosities in the digital role-playing game Fallout 3. In Korpua, Jyrki & Isomaa, Saija (Eds.) On Troubled Futures: New Perspectives to Dystopian Fiction In Literature and Other Media.
- Artikkeli II: Piittinen, S. Injustice in the ruins and a disordered post-apocalypse: Gothic ideology in the digital game world of Fallout 3. Accepted for publication in Studies in Gothic Fiction. DOI: 10.18573/sgf.34
- Artikkeli III: Piittinen, S. (2018). Morality in Let’s Play narrations : Moral evaluations of Gothic monsters in gameplay videos of Fallout 3. New Media and Society, 20 (12), 4671-4688. DOI: 10.1177/1461444818779754
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