The Heroes We Never Are: Interpellation, Subjugation, and the Encoded Other in Fantasy CRPGs
Sammanfattning: This thesis explores the topic of interpellation and subjugation in fantasy computer role-playing games (CRPGs). Using an assemblage-based framework, I argue that CRPG players are hailed and manipulated by the interplay of several texts and dynamics—mainly prose, code, numerical values, rule sets, and mechanics. My research focuses on games with extensive textual narratives that match—or exceed—the length of popular fantasy novels. By analyzing the Baldur’s Gate series, I call attention to deceitful forms of play commonly found in fantasy CRPGs. Interpellatory processes lead players to believe they are engaging in heroic performances and shaping the story, while imposing the enactment of encoded, violent ideologies and concealing the player’s lack of agency. My analysis of Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire shows that non-playable characters (NPCs) are also constructed through multiple texts. NPCs are Othered, represented through hegemonic re-inscriptions, absolute properties, and de-individualized in order to justify their subjugation. Finally, my discussion of Disco Elysium asserts that fantasy CRPGs can eschew their oppressive conventions—including heroic figures—while retaining recognizable dynamics. In my discussion, I also consider the matters of genre, representation, texts across media—and highlight the politics of play in games, academic research, and beyond.
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