Death and Video Games

A link to a PDF of the full text of the paper can be found at the bottom of this page. This paper remains a work in progress.

This paper will be presented on Friday, February 10 at 12:00 PM at Mesa College in Room G-101. Directions and a Campus Map can be found
here.

Students in my classes who wish to receive extra credit may attend the lecture and write a 2-3 page response to the issues raised. The response should be typed, double-spaced in 10-12 point legible font and is due by Friday, February 24. This will be worth 10 extra quiz points.

Students who missed the lecture may read my paper (attached below) and write a 2-3 page response. This response should be
typed, double-spaced in 10-12 point legible font and is due by Friday, February 24. This will be worth 5 extra quiz points.

“Death and Video Games” Abstract

by Ian Duckles

 

In this essay I examine the way in which video games conceptualize death and dying. In particular, I argue that these games trivialize death and that, in virtue of the significant role our deaths play in providing meaning and significance to our lives and our actions, and in virtue of the significant amount of time players of these games spend enmeshed in this virtual world (often more time than is spent in the “real” world), this trivializing of death is concerning and problematic both for its impact on the individual and the indirect impact these individuals have collectively on society.

I begin with the articulation of a theoretical framework for looking at death in video games (and for looking at video games generally). This framework is derived from Ian Bogost’s Unit Operations. I then turn to an examination of death and the role death plays in shaping our subjectivity with a particular emphasis on Heidegger’s account of being-towards-death from Being and Time. I conclude by connecting these two discussions through an examination of death in video games, with particular reference to the wildly popular Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft. I have chosen this as my case study due to its popularity (it is the most popular game of this type ever, and perhaps the most popular video game in the world) and my own experience as a player of this game.


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Ian Duckles,
Feb 13, 2012, 4:05 PM
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