“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.


Ideological Narratives of Play in Tropico 4 and Crusader Kings II

Lucat Bertrand Haahr Mads
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Ideology and its function in digital games has received considerable scholarly interest in the field of game studies, though only more recently has criticism interested itself with the ideological implications of game mechanics in conjunction with a game's representational content. Relying on an Althusserian definition of ideology, this paper builds upon the existing methodology of procedural rhetoric to examine the ideological functions of serious games, before addressing the necessity for a process of ideological analysis suited to the vast majority of commercial digital games. Through the close study of two games, Tropico 4 (Haemimont Games 2011) and Crusader Kings II (Paradox Development Studio 2012), and the examination of their representational components, the game mechanics they deploy, and the emergent narratives that unfold during play, this paper works to lay the foundations for an analytical framework designed for the close ideological reading and analysis of popular digital games.


Family Values: Ideology, Computer Games & Sims

Sicart Miguel
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This article discusses some ideological issues related with the simulation of social systems in The Sims, proposing an interpretation of The Sims as an ideological game. This paper will focus on describing The Sims as a social simulator of a postcapitalist society: what The Sims proposes as an ideological game is a simulation of a specific set of values linked with a capitalist culture. Therefore, it can be considered not as a social simulator, but as a simulator of an ideology of modern capitalist societies. The last goal of this article is, then, to propose an analysis of the relation between rules, gameplay and ideology in certain computer game simulations.


How Videogames Express Ideas

Weise Matthew
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

What are the exact aspects of the videogame medium, the precise features or combinations of features that lend themselves to expressing ideas and meaning? To chart this out, I begin with an American legal case that serves as a foundation for the basic issues involved and then move on to show how this relates to some of the broader attitudes the world of videogame discourse. Based on this, I break down the expressive strategies of videogames into three aspects—non-playable sequences, rule-based systems, and the relationship between the two—which I then illustrate with examples proving that videogames can indeed be an expressive medium.


Danger Close: Contesting Ideologies and Contemporary Military Conflict in First Person Shooters

Van Zwieten Martijn
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

More and more military first-person shooters situate their action in contemporary conflicts, with some claiming to various degrees to realistically depicted that conflict. Using the recently released game Medal of Honor as an example, this paper shows that such realism is made impossible by the presence of three ideological constructs found in military shooters: the FPS apparatus, the military-entertainment complex and neo-Orientalism. These constructs respectively naturalize violent intervention, frame the U.S. military as just heroes, and present Afghanistan and its inhabitants as fundamentally terrorist. Each of these constructs thus works to strip elements of military conflict of context, and reinforces the others’ tendency to turn a complex war into a simple case of good vanquishing evil.


The Ideology of Interactivity (or Video Games and Taylorization of Leisure)

Garite Matt
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

Interactivity is one of the key conceptual apparatuses through which video games have been theorized thus far. As many writers have noted, video games are distinct from other forms of media because player actions seem to have direct, immediate consequences in the world depicted onscreen. But in many ways, this “interactive” feature of video games tends to manifest itself as a relentless series of demands, or a way of disciplining player behavior. In this sense, it seems more accurate to describe the human-machine interface made possible by gaming as an aggressive form of “interpellation” or hailing. Drawing primarily upon the work of Louis Althusser, I argue that traditional theories of interactivity fail to acknowledge the work of video games—in other words, the extent to which video games define and reconstitute players as subjects of ideology.


Fictive affinities in Final Fantasy XI: complicit and critical play in fantastic nations

Huber William
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

Like many massively-multiplayer role-playing games, Final Fantasy XI is a persistent world with a heroic fantasy setting. This paper discusses fictive player identities, and describes specific visual and ludological tropes of race and nationality, and the techniques by which the game engineers the complicity of the player in the problematics it represents. Some of these are coherent with themes and structures developed in earlier (single-player) iterations of the Final Fantasy franchise; others are original to the multiplayer title. This treatment of the game-as-text is offered as an exercise in critical close-play, and as an example of a necessarily hybrid approach to the study of game genres.