Dissertation Description

From Molleindustria’s game Tuboflex

Interpreting Video Games through the Lens of Modernity

My dissertation historicizes the emergence of the video game medium in terms of the theory and history of modernity and postmodernity. Each chapter—whether focusing on gender in games, the possibility of an avant-garde game movement, or the subject positioning of the gamer—seeks to enrich and complicate the scholarly analysis of video games by examining the continuities and discontinuities that arise between the video game medium and older historical media forms, between debates surrounding video games today and the historical contexts which inform and shape these debates. Thus, the dissertation operates within the critical framework of comparative media studies, intervening in the nascent discipline of game studies which has tended to champion differences between the video game medium and historical media (such as film and television) instead of tracing intriguing connections between these forms. While undertaking this comparative analysis of media forms, a larger historical and theoretical position is constructed: drawing on theories that examine postmodernity as an extension and intensification of the forces of modernity, I analyze key ideas associated with modernity—boredom and anxiety, the divide between popular culture and high art, and anxieties erupting around technologies of representation and their construction of the “real”—in order to interrogate their reappearance within video game culture; thus, the dissertation uses the video game as a medium which registers continuations of problems that emerged in modernity while providing an unique locus for uncovering transformations of these problems within contemporary culture and society.

Current Chapter Descriptions

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