Techno-Giants: The Giant, the Machine and the Human

Ford Dom
2020 DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere

The relationship between humankind and technology is fundamental, but also a longstanding source of unease, particularly as that relationship has become ever more intimate and irreversible. In this paper, I connect this age-old anxiety with the age-old figure of the giant, a monster similarly intertwined with ancient questions on the boundaries of humanity. I focus on two examples: the Human-Reaper larva in Mass Effect 2 and Liberty Prime in Fallout 3 and 4. Although different in approach, these examples demonstrate a use of a phenomenon I call the ‘techno-giant’ to explore and reflect the powerful anxieties in our cultures to do with the future of the human– technology relationship. In particular, both examples expose the human–nonhuman boundary as being exceeding difficult to define and place, despite a constant desire to. The figure of the giant offers a powerful focal point for these representations.


Beyond the Wall: The Boundaries of the Neomedieval Town in Singleplayer Roleplaying Games

Ford Dom
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

The cities of the ever prevalent neomedieval fantasy roleplaying game are integral to their gameworlds. They act as quest hubs, goals, centres for action and places of safety. Much of the loop of the game revolves around leaving the city to complete quests, then returning to the city again, and repeat. In this paper, I take a closer look at the boundaries of the city. I begin by proposing a model to help define what a city’s boundary is and how it is expressed to the player. Then, I look at how and why players cross those borders back and forth. Through this, I hope to facilitate a better understanding of how the city functions in roleplaying games, and how the ways in which it produces boundaries alters and affects how players interact with the gameworld.