Progressive gameplay: emergent anticapitalism in story-driven video games
This thesis considers the potential of story-driven video games in promoting liberatory discourses. It examines Cyberpunk 2077, an action/roleplaying game set in a cyberpunk city rife with violence and social inequality; and Night in the Woods, an adventure game about a gothic mystery set in a small Rust Belt town. The thesis adopts a textual and formal approach in conjunction while analyzing the discourses of social liberation and their effectiveness in the interactive yet solitary experience of single-player gameplay through these two video games. In doing so, the thesis adopts a critical theoretical framework that considers these two video games in relation to the Spectacle of capitalist society and the forms of resistance adopted by the Situationist International, as well as the cultural materialist approach of Raymond Williams. Observing these approaches in narrative flow as well as player interactivity, this thesis aims to contribute to the body of thought that evaluates video games as potential sources for discourses of social liberation.