Dead Rising: Examining the Modes, Expressions, and Potentialities of Videoludic Satire through a Video Game Franchise

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

In this thesis, it is argued that video games offer several avenues through which satire can be expressed. This argument is achieved through the development of an original taxonomy of videoludic satire, which foregrounds the ability of video games to communicate satire through the visual and simulated properties of gamespaces (spatial satire); the portrayal of in-game characters and their interplay with the player’s avatar (shared satire); their use of sound (auditory satire); the way they frame the player’s temporal investments in gameplay activities (temporal satire); and the outcomes of in-game choices that the player makes (consequential satire). 
A detailed methodology for recognising, qualifying, and analysing satire in video games is presented in this thesis by way of forming its taxonomy of videoludic satire. To illustrate its value to further studies of videoludic satire, this methodology is tested in its application to Capcom’s zombie-based video game series, Dead Rising (2006-2017). This video game series alludes to, recontextualises, and builds upon George A. Romero’s filmic satire on American consumer culture, Dawn of the Dead (1978). However, it does not satirise consumerism, as Romero’s film is often seen to. Instead, as an examination of its spatial, shared, auditory, temporal, and consequential satire verifies, the Dead Rising series satirises excessive consumption in the form of acquisitiveness and gluttony. 
The thesis further argues that the satire expressed in the Dead Rising series is not countercultural. Rather, in another point of departure from the satire of Romero’s film, it is ideologically conservative in its legitimisation of hegemonic ideals – which are best described as neoliberal. This argument is substantiated throughout the thesis by readings of the Dead Rising series that are dependent on the taxonomy of videoludic satire the thesis presents. Therefore, the thesis substantiates its taxonomy by showcasing its practicality in terms of producing interpretative analyses of video games. Hence, arguments made in this thesis regarding the Dead Rising series authenticate the primary argument of the thesis: that videoludic satire can be expressed in a variety of ways.
Date of Award26 Apr 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorPETER WRIGHT (Director of Studies), JENNIFER WOODWARD (Supervisor) & ANDREA WRIGHT (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Satire
  • Video Games
  • Videoludic Satire
  • Dead Rising
  • Zombies
  • Dawn of the Dead

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