“The Father of Survival Horror”: Shinji Mikami, Procedural Rhetoric, and the Collective/Cultural Memory of the Atomic Bombs
Video game “authors” use procedural rhetoric to make specific arguments within the narratives of their games. As a result, they, either purposefully or incidentally, contribute to the creation and maintenance of collective/cultural memory. This process can be identified within the directorial works of Shinji Mikami that include a set of similar general themes. Though the settings of these games differ, they include several related plot elements. These include: 1) depictions of physical and emotional trauma, 2) the large-scale destruction of cities, and 3) distrust of those in power. This paper argues that Mikami, through processes of procedural rhetoric/ authorship, can be understood as an “author” of video games that fall into the larger tradition of war and atomic bomb memory in Japan. (Also known as hibakusha (bomb-affected persons) literature). As a result, his games can be understood as a part of Japan’s larger collective/cultural memory practices surrounding the atomic bombings of Hiroshima (6 August 1945) and Nagasaki (9 August 1945). In the case of Mikami, the narratives of his games follow what Akiko Hashimoto labels as the “Long Defeat”, in which Japanese collective/cultural memory struggles to cope with the cultural trauma of the Pacific War (1931-1945). To illustrate this argument the paper engages in a close reading of Mikami’s Resident Evil, Dino Crisis, Resident Evil 4, Vanquish and The Evil Within and identifies tropes that are common to Japanese war memory and hibakusha literature.
This article explores representations of history and history for the present in Fallout 4 to illuminate how the gameworld makes clever use of common historical tropes and aesthetics, as well as the genre of the counterfactual in its presentation of a compelling and interactive narrative. Set in the post-apocalyptic landscape of Massachusetts, Fallout 4 employs various sites of historical Massachusetts (Concord, Lexington, Boston) in order to draw the user into the story of the ‘lone survivor,’ the avatar that he or she takes control of. This analysis is interested in the ways that Fallout 4 employs history and the genre of the counterfactual in the production of a compelling narrative that not only invites but impels the player into action to chart a new course for this devastated virtual landscape. The power of counterfactual history lies in its capacity to unravel assumptions about the static nature of historical events, and in its denial of a linear trajectory of history broadly. In the case of Fallout 4, the implementation of a counterfactual story, wherein the nuclear event that shrouded the Cold War period in uncertainty, takes place. It serves as a rejection of the popularly rehearsed narrative of American supremacy triumphing over Communist forces to present the player with a more nuanced interpretation of some of the internal and external tensions that came to define the Cold War period (i.e. cultural malaise, economic instability, the growth of a military-industrial complex). This conflicting presentation of histories both real and imagined provides an opportunity for the player to experience and interact with the game critically as a counterfactual reimagining of the Cold War era. Viewed in this way, the virtual world of Fallout 4 becomes a space where the player can reassess their own understanding of the period, and the nature of historical knowledge production more broadly.
Nyle Sky Kauweloa and Jenifer Sunrise Winter
This study examined how collegiate esports players conceptualized their own competitive gameplay as situated between work and play. Using interviews guided by Stebbins’ (2007) serious leisure perspective, 16 collegiate esports players described how belonging to a collegiate esports team has shaped their identity, and how they experienced gaming within the structured environment of a collegiate esports team and club. Stebbins’ description of skill and knowledge development was supported, and the findings are in accord with Stebbins’ conceptualization of “personal rewards,” such as self-expression, self-image, and self-actualization.
“No one gives you a rulebook to raise a kid”: Adoptive Motherhood in The Walking Dead Video Game Series
Sarah Marie Stang
This article closely examines the representation of adoptive motherhood in Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead video game series. It builds off previous research which has examined The Walking Dead: Season One as an example of a ‘dadified’ game to explore the ways adoptive motherhood is represented throughout the series. More specifically, this article focuses on the series’ protagonist, Clementine, as she develops from a daughter-figure to a mother-figure. Overall, this article argues that although TWD has been discussed primarily as a dadified game and much of the extant literature on the series has focused on Lee as a father-figure, TWD series can also be read as a ‘momified’ narrative. While there are several problematic aspects in the way Clementine is portrayed, the series is notable in that it explores adoptive maternity, centralizes the experiences of non-white characters, and reinforces the message that family is not limited to blood relations. Because of its centralization of Clementine – a young, potentially queer, adoptive mother of colour – TWD series should be considered as a maternal narrative, rather than only categorized as another dadified series.
The Role of Architecture in Constructing Gameworlds: Intertextual Allusions, Metaphorical Representations and Societal Ethics in Dishonored
Anthony Zonaga and Marcus Carter
In this article, we present a close analysis of the role that the steampunk industrial Victorian architecture in Dishonored (2012) has in constructing the player’s experience and knowledge of the gameworld. Through various intertextual allusions and metaphorical representations, we argue the architecture works as an important storytelling element, contextualizing information that the player learns and conveying information about the game’s main characters, similar to the ways that architecture is utilized in other visual media such as television and film. In addition, we also argue that the architecture in Dishonored plays a crucial role in conveying to the player information about the morals and values of the fictional society, key to the game’s moral-choice gameplay.
In November 2017, Nintendo released Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Nintendo 2017) for iOS and Android devices. At first blush, the game is much like previous instalments in the series. The player character finds themselves as a new denizen of a rural space populated by sentient animals that all have wants and offer rewards for those that satisfy those wants. However, the conversion of Animal Crossing from console game to mobile game was not without its major changes. A free-to-play game par excellence, Pocket Camp introduces Leaf Tokens, a separate currency from bells which can be bought with real money. Leaf Tokens can be used to buy certain in-game objects but, for the most part, are used to eliminate instances of waiting in the game, which stands in direct opposition to the series’ apparent valorization of slower, simpler living. Through a discussion of this translation of Animal Crossing’s mechanics and values into the mobile game genre, Pocket Camp is shown to gamify the capitalist monetization of time. In the face of this reality, the paper concludes examining the role of the player as a critical actor within this system and suggests that, far from being a passive victim of the game’s capitalist logics, one might engage with the game in subversive ways that articulate a virtual refusal of virtual labour and an instance of what the author has taken to calling radical slowness.