NieR (De)Automata: Defamiliarization and the Poetic Revolution of NieR: Automata

Gerrish Grace
2018 DiGRA Nordic '18: Proceedings of 2018 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

This paper employs the 2017 game NieR: Automata as a case study to explore how Russian Formalist poetics, particularly the concept of “defamiliarization,” can operate as a mode of subversion in games. By focusing on the technical devices available to the genre, and the unique ways those devices can be manipulated and subverted for “poetic” effect, this paper also demonstrates how defamiliarization challenges the boundaries that attempt to define the genre’s textual and narrative capabilities, and in doing so, promotes its ongoing evolution. As such, this framework is innately useful to the field of digital game study, as it diverges from the common practice of searching for concrete definitions of the genre, and instead focuses on the generative analysis of its formal elements, and the mutable potential of what games can achieve.