Hackers and Cyborgs: Binary Domain and Two Formative Videogame Technicities

Keogh Brendan
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Through the course of Binary Domain’s action-packed narrative, it becomes increasingly unclear who is human, who is machine, and who is somewhere in between. Ultimately, such a distinction is futile when our everyday experiences are so ubiquitously augmented by technologies—even the act of playing Binary Domain by coupling with a virtual character through a videogame controller challenges any clear distinction between human and machine. While such themes are not new to science fiction, the anxieties expressed by Binary Domain’s characters are relevant to what have emerged over the past twentyfive years as two formative modes of identifying with videogames: the dominant hacker and the integrated cyborg. The hacker, an identity that the dominant and hegemonic ‘gamer’ consumer identity can trace a clear lineage from, comes to represent the masculinist, mastery-focused identity that most blockbuster games celebrate.The cyborg emerges in resistance to the hacker, pointing to a diversity of forms and identities focused less on mastering the machine than participating with it. This paper uses Binary Domain’s complex anxieties towards technology as a lens through which to trace the histories of these constitutive modes of identifying with videogames, and to demonstrate the influence they have on shaping videogame forms and audiences.


Horror Videogames and the Uncanny

Kirkland Ewan
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

This paper explores the uncanny dimensions of avatars and gamespaces in survival horror videogames. The avatar’s combination of animation and lifelessness personifies Freud’s notion of the uncanny. Simultaneously, the cybernetic interaction between player and machine, whereby the digital figure appears to act with autonomy and agency, unsettles the boundaries between dead object and living person. Spaces in survival horror games characterise the uncanny architecture of horror films and literature. Many suggest the unsettling psychological disturbance lurking behind the homely and the familiar. A recurring aspect of survival horror combines the investigation of a protagonist’s origins, a return to the family home, and the exploration of gynecological spaces – blood red corridors, womb-like caverns, bloody chambers – reproducing what is for Freud the primal site of the uncanny.