Angels and demons in a digital landscape

Conference paper


Meades, A. 2010. Angels and demons in a digital landscape.
AuthorsMeades, A.
TypeConference paper
Description

While videogames are frequently subject to criticism due to their apparently violent activity or morally ambiguous content they can historically be seen to have presented the player with increasingly sophisticated spaces for the exploration of notions of the angelic and demonic. In this paper I will explore the affordances that videogames offer the player to engage with discourses of the angelic and demonic; from the ideological presentation of the player as an agent of good versus evil, the player as morally ambiguous agent, through to multiplayer online games where individual activity is scrutinised through a panoptic normalizing gaze.

Through this perspective I will explore the manifestations of angelic and demonic iconography and the wider notion of the normative and diabolical as core concepts within mainstream commercial videogames.

I will do this by analysing game that explicitly explore notions of the demonic, such as Capcom’s Resident Evil series (1996 onwards), iD Software’s Doom series (1995 – 2005), and Electronic Arts’ Dante’s Inferno (2010). I will pay attention to games that attempt to present morality dialectically, such as Electronic Arts’ Mass Effect series (2007 onwards) and Microsoft Game Studios’ Fable series (2004 onwards), where player action leads to notional moral bifurcation – player avatars are seen as either saintly or fiendish with the perceived benefits that either perspective presents. Lastly I will explore the ways in which this thematic exploration of normative moral extremes can be seen in the ways that multiplayer videogame behaviour is understood, from Aarseth’s theoretical position of the implied player and the notion of correct ways to play, through to the mutual observation of deviant player types such as the griefer, the ganker and the glitcher.

Year2010
ConferenceAngels and Demons Conference
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Jan 2013
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Print11 Jun 2010
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/86w37/angels-and-demons-in-a-digital-landscape

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