2015 Abstracts Stage 3

Is the paradox between an authored narrative and player choice responsible for the illusion of internal justification in video games? A look into narrative and player agency, given the circumstances of the relationship between ‘winnable’ video games and the identity we attribute to ourselves as players – with reference to Dennaton Games’ Hotline Miami.

Benjamin Meadmore, 2015, Stage 3

I aim to explore the concept of how we act morally in videogames and what motivates us to do so. I chose to use this game, Hotline Miami, a top-down, two-dimensional pastiche of ultra-violence, stealth and surreal story-telling, played from a canvas of 80s synth subculture particularly notable in the soundtrack and visuals. It is a neo-noir crime drama blearily glimpsed through a psychedelic haze, which follows the nameless protagonist the player controls. It is comprised of numerous chapters, most of which begin with the nameless protagonist waking up in his apartment and being tasked to complete a certain amount of massacres against an unspecific criminal organization at the behest of your answering machine. As hallucinations and reality become increasingly impossible to differentiate, moments of lucidity where you are given the opportunity to reflect on your actions become disturbingly non-existent.

In my project, I want to investigate whether the concept of player choice holds any value and if a video game can provide the territory for a meaning philosophical investigation today. With the factor of responsibility and authored narrative surrounding us, are we able to resist and rationally control our enjoyment of a game wherein you are tasked with committing immoral acts? The philosophers I will use are: Paul Ricoeur and his mimetic narrative of culture and Slovaj Zizek and his views on personal identity in the artistic video gaming world.

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