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Title: Trauma, accumulation, and ethical action in affective-immersive gaming
Author: Cuttell, Joanna
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 6733
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis interrogates the relationship between the researcher and immersive media ecology through developing an immersive-participatory method which builds on autoethnography and makes central the researcher's experience. It theorises immersion during gameplay as an affective, embodied state, which is both active and passive, and achieved via visual engagement, projective identification, and haptic communication with the player character and game world. Deploying a mode of qualitative content analysis alongside this immersive method, this project makes visible and utilises the relationship between the researcher and the object of study. As such, it attains critical purchase on the affective and embodied experience of narrative, immersive and mechanic game elements. Three overarching themes have emerged from this research: the affective and persuasive elements of immersive engagement; the players’ ability to agentfully negotiate the freedoms and constraints of the gameworld; and the ideological positioning of the player within certain subjectivities. In order to examine these themes, I interrogate three narrative and mechanical branches which are common to the games studied. Firstly, how trauma, vulnerability and spectacle are deployed within game narratives and structures, and how they serve to attach the player and motivate them to overcome and master. Secondly, the way (bio)dystopian game worlds and mechanical incentivisation of accumulation work at cross purposes to both express anxieties about late-capitalist ideologies whilst also structuring player desire along neoliberal lines. And finally, the evocation of ethical response through ‘moral’ game mechanics and the space for players to interpret, negotiate, and play with ethical acts. In following these lines of analysis, this thesis reveals broader cultural tensions surrounding identification, immersion, and knowledge specifically regarding questions of affect, desire, and ethical decision-making.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick ; Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust ; Funds For Women Graduates
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HM Sociology