“Who thinks beating a child is entertainment?”: Ideological Constructions of the Figure of ‘The Child’ in Detroit: Become Human

Reay Emma
2020 DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere

This article draws on sociological and anthropological theories relating to cultural constructions of the figure of ‘the child’ to determine whether Detroit: Become Human by Quantic Dream affirms or subverts ideological beliefs about children. It argues that much of the backlash Quantic Dream experienced following the premiere of the game’s trailer, which featured a scene of child abuse, can be understood part of a broader moral performance that relies on the sanctity of ‘the child’ to function as a touchstone for the modern Western society. It concludes that far from challenging dominant narratives about the moral value of ‘the child’, Detroit: Become Human replicates a conservative, reactionary, paternalistic view of children’s position within society.


Playing with Patriarchy: Fatherhood in BioShock: Infinite, The Last of Us, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Lucat Bertrand
2017 DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference

A number of prominent digital games have in recent years featured fathers as protagonists. The ideological implications of those games’ different representations of fatherhood and masculinity appear as important axes of investigation into the roles digital games can play in contemporary ideological discourse. Through a close comparative analysis and reading of BioShock: Infinite (Irrational Games 2013), The Last of Us (Naughty Dog 2013), and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (CD Projekt RED 2015), this paper examines the narrative, representational, and procedural elements which frame fatherhood in these three popular games. Relying upon the foundations of procedural rhetoric and the concept of hegemonic masculinities, this paper focuses on three key themes: paternal violence, anti-fathers, and exceptional daughters. The different ways these themes are represented in the three games highlights how they respectively reinforce, restore, and challenge notions of patriarchal authority, the role of the father, and contemporary gender ideologies.


Making the Familiar Unfamiliar: Techniques for Creating Poetic Gameplay

Mitchell Alex
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Just as writers use specific literary devices to deliberately draw attention to a poem's form, in this paper I propose that game designers can make use of the structure of gameplay to draw attention to a game's formal qualities for "poetic" effect. Starting from Shklovsky's notion of defamiliarization and Utterback's concept of the poetic interface, I draw parallels between poetic language and the techniques used in games to create what I refer to as poetic gameplay. Through a close reading of Thirty Flights of Loving, I identify three possible techniques for creating poetic gameplay: undermining the player's expectations for control, disrupting the chronological flow of time, and blurring the boundaries of the form. To demonstrate the potential use of these techniques for analysis, I discuss how these techniques appear in a range of games, suggesting that these techniques can serve as the basis for a more general set of techniques for creating poetic gameplay.


The Tapper Videogame Patent as a Series of Close Readings

Nelson Mark J.
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

The popular 1983 arcade game Tapper seems simple at first. The player controls a bartender, and serves customers beer, racing against the clock to serve them before they run out of patience. What then to make of a 10,000-word patent application filed in 1984, claiming protection for the game as an invention? Arguing over the patentability of videogame designs isn’t the purpose of this paper; rather, the Tapper patent document itself turns out to constitute a remarkable series of close readings of the game from multiple angles, while illustrating methods for game analysis that are of interest beyond patent law. This starts from its abstract yet evocative title—“Video game in which a host image repels ravenous images by serving filled vessels”—and continues from there, along the way touching on a number of subjects also considered by more recent authors.


The Role of Micronarrative in the Design and Experience of Digital Games

Bizzocchi Jim Nixon Michael DiPaola Steve Funk Natalie
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Designing robust narrative experience in games is a complex and demanding task. The need to balance authorial control with player interactivity necessitates structurally flexible storytelling tools. One such tool is the micronarrative - an internal unit of narrative progression and coherence. This paper explicates relationships between the size, form, and experience of narrative units within electronic games. It identifies three design properties that enhance the utility and effectiveness of micronarratives within game experience: micronarratives are hierarchical, modular, and accumulative. The analysis is based on close readings of two commercial game titles, NHL 12 (Electronic Arts Canada 2012) and Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal 2011).