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Nonhuman Games: Playing in the Post-Anthropocene

Death, Culture & Leisure: Playing Dead

ISBN: 978-1-83909-038-7, eISBN: 978-1-83909-037-0

Publication date: 20 August 2020


This chapter explores what video games can teach us in light of the ongoing sixth mass extinction in the history of our planet, allegedly caused by global warming and the over-consumption of vital resources. Games made and played by nonhuman actors can shed light on the situatedness and partiality of our knowledge regarding the boundaries that separate and differentiate human and nonhuman, interactivity and passivity, entertainment and boredom, and life and death. Nonhuman games help us to articulate the space and time in-between these dualisms and have the potential to re-route gaming (and game studies) from false myths of agency, interactivity, and instrumentalism, and the masculinism inherent in these notions. Nonhuman games are companions for earthly survival, and as such they can be taken as useful references when considering a more ethical approach to the ecological crisis of the Anthropocene. The chapter investigates notions of posthumanism, interpassivity, and contemporary critiques of the early assumptions of game studies on the agency of human players. It looks at video games that play by themselves, idle and incremental games, and the emergence of nonplaying characters in ludic and open-world simulations. It explores forms of automatic play and the use of bots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in online role-playing games, procedurally generated virtual environments, and games that far exceed the lifespan of their players.



Ruffino, P. (2020), "Nonhuman Games: Playing in the Post-Anthropocene", Coward-Gibbs, M. (Ed.) Death, Culture & Leisure: Playing Dead (Emerald Studies in Death and Culture), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 11-25.



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Copyright © 2020 Paolo Ruffino