Levelling Up: The Cultural Impact of Contemporary Videogames


Levelling Up: The Cultural Impact of Contemporary Videogames


Edited by Brittany Kuhn and Alexia Bhéreur-Lagounaris

Format: eBook (PDF)

Year: 2016

This volume discusses how contemporary videogames have become less an entertainment medium and more a space for serious considerations of identity, education and social change.

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Videogames have come a long way from Super Mario Bros and Pong. After thirty years of technological advancements and academic criticisms, videogames have become a fertile ground for social change and virtual identity creation. Where big game companies like Bioware, Bethesda, and Rockstar Games have begun to include more inclusive narratives, independent game companies are beginning to delve into the field of ‘serious games,’ capitalising on the popularity and prevalence of social networking to inspire and assist non-game-related fields. While all of this is happening, a new subculture has become to dominate social media: that of the fanboy and the Let’s Play YouTube video phenomenon. It is a dynamic time in videogame studies, from the perspective of player, designer and theorist. However, with the advent of virtual reality, the question remains: where will videogames, and subsequently our society, ‘level up’ to next?

Introduction: ‘Levelling Up’ and the Impact of Videogames
Brittany Kuhn and Alexia Bhéreur-Lagounaris

Part I Theoretical Impact of Videogames

Aristotle Goes to the Arcade: The Ethics of Videogames, False Pleasure and the Good Life
Declan J. Humphreys

We Are Legion: Artificial Intelligence in BioWare’s Mass Effect
Thomas Faller

Theories of Gaming: Are Video Games Text, Game or Somewhere in Between?
Brittany Kuhn

Ludic Narratology: Creating a Theory of Structure in Choice-Based Video Game Narratives
Kieran Wilson

Observing Iterative Design on the Game Dominaedro
Vicente Martin Mastrocola

Part II Individual Impact by Videogames

Cognitive Dissonance as an Ethical Instrument of Metamodern Aesthetic in Spec Ops: The Line
Felix Schniz

When All You Can Be Is about Who You Already Are: Dragon Age: Inquisition and the Uncovering of Real-Life Behaviour Patterns
Shauna Ashley Bennis

Designing the Peaceable Kingdom: The Canadian-Ness of Dragon Age: Inquisition
René Schallegger

Romance Is Difficult: Choice, Agency and the Sexual Identity of NPCs in BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition
Veit Frick

A (Dis)United Galaxy: The Silenced Voices of Non-Human Minorities in BioWare’s Mass Effect
Vanessa Erat

Part III Social Impact through Videogames

Massively Multiplayer Online Science
Attila Szantner

Is Citizen Science Gaming the Next ‘Level Up’ for Social Impact Games? Crossing Public Involvement, Technological Accessibility and Game Design
Alexia Bhéreur-Lagounaris

Understanding the Fanboy Culture: Their Place and Role within the Games Industry
Bradley James and B.D. Fletcher

Archives, Identity, and Apparatus: Let’s Play and Videogame Fandom
Thomas Hale

Grand Theft Auto V: Capitalist Hyperreality in the Age of Cynical Reason
Simon Murphy

Brittany Kuhn is a doctoral student at the University of Essex in Colchester, UK. Her research focuses on videogame narratives and how they work with sensory and ludic elements to create deep player immersion and how those elements differ from other media.

Alexia Bhéreur-Lagounaris has a multidisciplinary path, from Contemporary Dance to Artistic Scout for Cirque du Soleil, to Media Research to Event Curator. Since 2010, she coordinates a Multimedia Lab at the INRS and is a M.Sc. Candidate at University of Montreal in Social Impact Games.