Ecozon (a): European Journal of Literature, Culture, and Environment
Video games, Play, Digital rhetoric, Ecocriticism, Media studies, Cephalopods
Connecting Haraway’s recent observations about “making kin” to video games, this essay examines how particular elements of the medium might cultivate nuanced considerations for multispecies relations. To fully grasp how video games broadly redefine relations between human and nonhuman animals, we must consider the role of game aesthetics and play mechanics in players’ experiences of becoming-with. These elements of games fundamentally shape players’ engagements with the medium and are inextricably linked to their storytelling and production. Moreover, game aesthetics and play mechanics (in conjunction with storytelling) demand that players take specific actions and inhabit distinct roles during play, enabling players to not only think alternative kinships, but also “enact” making them. To demonstrate these points, I examine the aesthetics and gameplay of two tentacular video games, analyzing how they offer rhetorical models for productively thinking about humans’ relations to nonhuman species. I primarily focus on games that heavily feature cephalopod creatures because this specific animal class is often viewed as a rich site for phenomenological and ontological investigations (including in Haraway’s work). Thus, my research attends to specific video games and their tentacled characters to determine how they challenge players to entertain and enact alternative ontologies and human-animal relationships through play.
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Bianchi, M. (2017). Inklings and Tentacled Things: Grasping at Kinship through Video Games. Ecozon (a): European Journal of Literature, Culture, and Environment, 8 (2), 136-150. https://doi.org/10.37536/ECOZONA.2017.8.2.1354