Lost in the Woods: Procedurality and the Uncanny in The Legend of Zelda Series

Chapter Title

Lost in the Woods: Procedurality and the Uncanny in The Legend of Zelda Series

Book Title

Madness in the Woods: Representations of the Ecological Uncanny

Files

Document Type

Book Chapter

Editors

Tina-Karen Pusse, Heike Schwarz, and Rebecca Downes

Description

The essay discusses the trope of being lost in the woods as an instructive example of how game design can simulate the uncanny. It draws primarily on Ian Bogost’s concept of procedurality and Alexander Galloway’s theorization of gamic actions to analyse how the Nintendo game series The Legend of Zelda creates the uncanny qualities of its Lost Woods environments. It shows how the processes and actions involved in occupying and leaving the Lost Woods often entail a deliberate blurring of the game’s diegetic and nondiegetic aspects. For first-time players unfamiliar with the game’s procedures, this disorienting confusion between the game world and the world outside of it creates an experience of the uncanny. The game blurs the material and the supernatural since it is the material hardware and software that evoke ideas traditionally linked to the uncanny. Moreover, the essay demonstrates how the connotations of death that Freud associated with uncanny experience find concrete expression in players’ encounters with nonplayer characters that inhabit the woods as such encounters emphasize the main character’s fight for survival. The player’s choice to continue playing the games, especially after the avatar’s death, subverts the uncanny by underscoring the material artifice of the game’s programming. It is this conjuration and undermining of the uncanny that epitomizes how the trope of being lost in the woods is procedurally represented in specific game spaces.

ISBN

978-3-631-79339-8

Publication Date

2020

Publisher

Peter Lang International Academic Publishers

Keywords

English literature, culture, ecopsychology

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Other American Studies

DOI

10.3726/b16953

Lost in the Woods: Procedurality and the Uncanny in The Legend of Zelda Series
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