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Title: "It's time to kick a** and chew bubble gum" : an ideological critique of narrative in action games
Author: Cassar, Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 1064
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2014
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If videogames are carriers of ideological frameworks which work in favour of certain groups in society, how are such meanings divulged? Despite the achievement of important landmarks the academic field of game studies is still rife with gaps which need to be addressed. Hence, this study aims to provide for this general lack of tools by offering for scrutiny the means to carry out a systematic and analytical narrative analysis of games. What is proposed here is a comprehensive set of theoretical as well as methodological tools to deal more effectively and empirically with the kind of narratives emerging in games. In order to identify and study these narratives, two tools have been selected, each one to be used for a specific objective. The tools in question are narrative and content analysis. Whilst the former is used to address the narrative dimension of the games in question, the latter is used to identify and define their ideological nuances. In this thesis it will be argued that this content is mostly dispersed through narrative. Though it has been argued many times that videogame narratives are infantile and poor reflections of film and novel forms of storytelling, they nonetheless contain within them the same capacity of the older forms to dispense or insinuate ideological content. As such videogames are both influenced by ideological principles as well as cultural distributors of the latter. By being recruited by the forces of ‘good’ to defeat the forces of ‘evil’, the player is given an important role to play in an ideologically saturated fantasy. Nonetheless the nature of heroism present in these games is not of the conventional kind but has Nietzschian characteristics to it, in that it is bound to the idea of empowerment. The player is invited to partake in a fantasy where everything is possible and there are no barriers which cannot be overcome. The action component, or rather the acts of shooting and killing, so commonly associated with the action genre, become the primary source through which a sense of empowerment is channelled. At their core, action games are primarily about the illusion of control over the self, non- Western countries, cultures, ideologies, women etc. As a consequence of this, these games have become an important colonizing tool, which consolidates the hegemony of Western white men. This is also particularly evident in the way female characters are 2 represented. While male figures are portrayed as heroic, virile and empowered, female characters are objectified, sexualized and deemed of secondary importance. By exploring the ideological nature of action games, this project seeks to reaffirm the importance of studying popular culture artefacts, not solely in terms of their constituting elements but also in the wider context of their origin and point of consumption.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Malta Government
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available