Anton Braxton Soderman
- Brown University
Playing with Media Histories: Video Games through the Lens of Modernity
This dissertation historcizes the emergence of the video game medium in terms of the theory and history of modernity. Each chapter—whether focusing on gender in games, the possibility of an avant-garde game movement, or the subjective experience 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. An argument is made that issues arising within the study of video games require broader historical analysis in order to understand and analyze them clearly. Ideologies, rhetorics, and representations embedded within specific games are analyzed as both continuations of similar themes or problems associated with modernity as well as mutations of these themes within contemporary digital culture.
Wherefore Art Thou? Video Games and Aesthetic Discourse
This project examines the aesthetics of the video game, connecting developments in game production to historical issues in aesthetic theory. It investigates the question continually posed by game scholars, “Are video games art?” analyzing the anxieties which subtend this question while arguing that the discourse of aesthetics in new media is supplanted by notions of technological innovation. It also analyzes the relationship between particular games and concepts in aesthetic theory such as the autonomy thesis of art, the concept of the sublime, the use of Brechtian alienation effects, and the relationship between art and technology; while producing close readings of specific videos games, but will also analyze key concepts in aesthetic theory in relation to the video game medium.