November 13, 2023

Dual guest-lecture from the University of Silesia

  • Tagged:
  • Event

On Wednesday, November the 29th, the Institute of Digital Games is proud to host a double guest-lecture with speakers hailing all the way from Poland (University of Silesia in Katowice).

In this 1-hour event, Magdalena Bednorz and Dr. Bartosz Stopel will be presenting recent game studies publications of theirs on the theme of emotions in digital games. In particular, they will be talking about 'emotional effort' (Magdalena) and 'emotional healing' (Bartosz).

So join us in the IDG Lab at 16.00 (on November the 28th) for two gripping talks on this important theme of how we relate to digital gameworlds and act within them. Find the abstracts for both talks below! See you there!

TALK 1: (Courtly) Love as Emotional Effort in Anomen’s Romance in Baldur’s Gate II

The talk will present an analysis of the only romantic subplot available to a female player character in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, namely the romance with Anomen, one of the potential companions. Both dialogue content and major rules of the romance will be analyzed. I will discuss how this romance adapts themes of courtly love to the poetics of the digital game medium and how the popular trappings of the courtly tradition are employed in reproducing contemporary patterns of romantic relationships within a game. More specifically—how Anomen’s romance reproduces patterns of unequal emotional labor in heterosexual relationships. The talk thus aims to encourage discussion on how digital games can function as tools of cultural discourse of love, by implementing certain patterns of romantic love through their specific means of expression.

TALK 2: Emotional Healing in What Remains of Edith Finch

What Remains of Edith Finch is an exploration game in which the player controls the titular teenage girl as she returns to her long abandoned family house in order to uncover the family secrets that ultimate led to its demise. In spite of simplistic and linear gameplay the game stands out for its unusual storytelling which takes full advantage of what video games offer as a distinct medium with its methods of telling stories. In my presentation I want to trace how the game’s storytelling and mediality are harnessed to elicit a guided emotional and cognitive experience in players. Specifically, the game offers a working through of negative emotions associated with death, decay, dark family history and personal tragedies and attempts to convert them into a more appreciative outlook on everyday existence by way of eliciting emotions of wonder and awe. This emotional conversion is a result of two strategies of cognitive and affective engagement used by the game. First, it leads players into a state of cognitive dissonance that ultimately aims for them to suspend their sense-making and puzzle-solving activities. Second, it offers a defamiliarization of scenarios involving family tragedies. Both work so as to instil a sense of cognitive refreshment and wonder about human beings and their choices.