by Ben Eldridge
This podcast is of a seminar presented by Ben Eldridge at UNSW Australia for SSSN on 24th May 2017. Ben’s paper is followed by a question and answer section conducted by the audience present on the day and a response by Dr Ari Mattes.
Ben Eldridge is a postgraduate student in the Department of English at the University of Sydney.
Video games present an interesting challenge to standard, supposedly comparable, artistic predecessors. Neither wholly narrative, nor wholly interactive, they operate in a liminal space that remains difficult to conceptualise; film and literature only represent – at most – partial and incomplete comparisons for this burgeoning interactive field that has significantly outsold both of its chronological predecessors. This paper will provide a rumination on mainstream interactive media; grounded in a brief case study of two texts spattered with violence and security content – Crytek’s video game Crysis 2 (2010) and Peter Watts’ subsequent novelization of the game, Crysis: Legion (2011). Crysis 2 is an interchangeable example of the so-called First Person Shooter (FPS): formulaic, uninspiring, and ideologically suspect. Perhaps the kindest thing that can be said about Crysis 2 is that the game is merely another in a very long line of clichéd science fiction inflected military hero fantasies. This paper contrasts the visual grammar of the game with the textual grammar of the novel, and is particularly concerned with their construction of temporality and person. These features will elucidate the respective texts’ contrary political positioning, in spite of their shared narrative basis. This paper argues that the visuality and the interactivity of the video game medium necessitate a wholesale reconstruction of appropriate grammatical categories.