Playing with trauma in video games. Interreactivity, empathy, perpetration

Start - End 
2011 - 2015 (completed)
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Additional tags 
English literature
Video games



Tobi Smethurst's PhD thesis investigates the under-theorized potential of video games to represent psychological trauma in ways that “traditional” trauma-fiction media such as novels, films, or autobiographies cannot. It argues that, because of the inter(re)activity which is unique to the video game medium, games are able to present a variety of ways of making the player identify and/or empathize with protagonists and, through them, to virtually experience traumatized perspectives or perpetrate traumatizing acts. The thesis conducts a series of close readings of games (The Walking DeadLimboSpec Ops: The Line, and others) that integrate trauma aesthetically and mechanically; that is, both visually/sonically/thematically and on the level of the rules which govern the experience of actually playing and progressing through the game.



Phd Student(s)