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January 2016 saw the final release of Numinous Games’ crowdfunded linear adventure game That Dragon, Cancer. An impactful independent title which subverts many of gaming’s…
January 2016 saw the final release of Numinous Games’ crowdfunded linear adventure game That Dragon, Cancer. An impactful independent title which subverts many of gaming’s traditional and valued norms. In less than two hours of abstracted adventure, players are transported through a series of vignettes documenting one family’s struggle with cancer, and the battle faced by their terminally ill child, Joel. Digital memorialisation has been documented by scholars since the late 1990s. This has come in the form of sites specifically created for memorialisation, social networking sites repurposed by their users for memorialisation (MySpace and more recently Facebook), and online virtual worlds (Second Life and World of Warcraft). However, within That Dragon, Cancer the productive nature of grief has created and envisioned a gaming experience purpose-built for memorialisation. This chapter begins by documenting memorialisation within virtual environments. From here, the author turns to consider the way in which That Dragon, Cancer provides a purpose-built space for grief, memorialisation and understanding, focussing on key stylistic and mechanic-based decisions undertaken in the games design. Finally, the author considers the way in which That Dragon, Cancer, through the use of crowdfunding in late 2014, transformed from a project memorialising one child to the memorialisation of many across the globe.
This chapter examines the acts of burial and exhumation in three contemporary British history plays. For the purposes of this argument, a ‘history play’ may be defined as…
This chapter examines the acts of burial and exhumation in three contemporary British history plays. For the purposes of this argument, a ‘history play’ may be defined as a piece of writing for the theatre that engages with historical events or settings. Such plays inevitably, at the moment of their staging or revival, take on particular meanings for audiences, since theatre as a live, durational art form encourages spectators to compare the historical events depicted with their present historical moment. The chapter argues that acts of burial and exhumation in contemporary British theatre are intimately tied to notions of land, soil and belonging. These became increasingly pertinent ideas in the UK’s political climate in the years following the 2016 Referendum on membership of the European Union. Of the three case studies, Victoria by David Greig (2000) dates from more than a decade before this vote, whilst Common by D. C. Moore (2017), and Eyam by Matt Hartley (2018) were written and staged in the interim between the Referendum result and the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. All three, however, feature corpses on stage as a means to consider time, temporality, place and history. Each play offers a different interpretation of what it means to play dead and to stay dead.
This chapter offers a brief overview of the ways in which death has been addressed in children’s picture books in a playful or light-hearted manner. The books here are a small purposive sample showing the ‘ordinary’ way, in which death can be dealt with in picture books rather than looking at books with a specific therapeutic intent. The concepts of ‘playfulness’ and also ‘carnival’ are explored before four books are analysed.
Pokémon has proven to be one of the most enduring and successful gaming franchises. Over the last two decades, Pokémon has produced dozens of games, multiple animated…
Pokémon has proven to be one of the most enduring and successful gaming franchises. Over the last two decades, Pokémon has produced dozens of games, multiple animated shows, and several movies. In this time, video games have found a new footing when it comes to approaching death. Titles like A Mortician’s Tale (2017) by Laundry Bear Games have opened up digital gaming as a place, where death can be explored with serious thought and a new emotional depth. A dichotomy has emerged between games that take death seriously and ones that lower death to a mere game mechanic. This chapter looks to bridge that growing divide and explore the pop phenomenon that is Pokémon through the same critical lens that has been used to examine games like A Mortician’s Tale. Ultimately, the Pokémon franchise emerges as capable of thoughtful and provocative conversation about death and dying.
Dark Souls heralded a shift from the dichotomy of survival horror, and instead, thrust the player into a world where narrative was everywhere (if only you dared to look)…
Dark Souls heralded a shift from the dichotomy of survival horror, and instead, thrust the player into a world where narrative was everywhere (if only you dared to look). This chapter explores the reimagination of Gothic narrative and narrative engagement in the cryptic and fragmented nested narratives of the iconic FromSoftware, Inc. series. In doing so, this chapter highlights the emergence of a hybrid ludo-narrative form within the Gothic genre, and examines the ways in which the series presents said narratives to the player as it shifts the onus of narrative engagement from the storyteller to the one now living the experience. The chapter explores video-ludic interpretations of death, play, and experientiality through the lens of video game studies, and posits the value of the series as a defining moment in the Japanese action role-playing game genre.
This chapter offers a critical reading of a range of television narratives centred on diverse populations of the articulate dead, including grim reapers (Dead Like Me)…
This chapter offers a critical reading of a range of television narratives centred on diverse populations of the articulate dead, including grim reapers (Dead Like Me), sort-of-ghosts (American Horror Story), zombies (iZombie), what appear to be ‘just regular dead people’ (The Good Place, Les Revenants) and some other creepy and unusual manifestations of the undead (Intruders, The Fades). It suggests that the preponderance of the articulate dead on television is symptomatic of a broader cultural desire to talk both about death and with the dead. It also suggests that there are numerous opportunities to learn from fictional engagement with death and the dead, foregrounding the ways in which televisual narratives can operate to reiterate, critique and engage with social and cultural messages. The chapter takes a playful approach and seeks to distil some key ‘self-help’ aphorisms that the dead in these series might offer the living about how to approach life, death and everything inbetween, as they tell their audiences to ‘look within’ to identify the greatest threats to their selfhood, to persevere because ‘it’s never too late to change’, and to ‘never forget’ the dead and what they might have scarified for the living.
Cultural perceptions of the zombie have shifted dramatically in the twenty-first century. No longer only associated with anxiety and fear, zombie fiction often appeals to…
Cultural perceptions of the zombie have shifted dramatically in the twenty-first century. No longer only associated with anxiety and fear, zombie fiction often appeals to pleasure. One source of pleasure comes from ludification, the process whereby game-like principals and gameful elements shape non-game activities. Increasingly, print fiction borrows from games and uses ludic elements to shape narratives. As such, it has become embedded in convergence culture, a dynamic media ecology where top down processes compete with bottom up processes. This chapter argues that ludified zombie fiction brings this media ecology into sharp relief, revealing ways that gamification and ludification are just as apt to reinforce capitalist processes of commodification and neo-liberal ideologies of power as they are to dismantle them. Through a close reading of three contemporary zombie fictions, this chapter exposes tensions and contradictions in ludification. The dead body of the zombie, the nihilistic landscape of the post-zombie apocalypse and the futility of human endeavour in the face of walking death are all elements of genre that undercut the gamified pursuit of external utility-oriented goals. The chapter explores these knotty ethical and ideological problems, not only considering the zombie apocalypse as a gameful space for rethinking social organisation, but also recognising it as a platform for the promotion of neo-liberal ideologies that perpetuate existing power inequalities through coercive disciplinary regimes.
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…
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.