Archive for August, 2014

Zombies again

August 28, 2014

From the 2nd movie in the Twilight series, New Moon.
Jessica:I don’t know why you wanna sit through all those zombies eating people, and no hot guys kissing anybody. It’s gross. Like why are there that many zombie movies anyway? Is it supposed to like draw a parallel about leprosy? My cousin had leprosy, it’s not funny, you know? And like is it supposed to be a metaphor for consumerism? Because don’t be so pleased with your own like…self-reverential cleverness, you know?


Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay)
Stephenie Meyer (novel)



The tainted clinic

August 14, 2014

I’ve been preparing the talk for LonCon for this Saturday, and working on the manuscript for early 2015. Which has meant thinking more about Dead Space. There’s a journal article based on this work being reviewed somewhere at the moment. I think that the paper is OK till about the 4,000 word mark then it sort of shreds on a couple of different nails that I’m still sorting out and working through – one of these nails involves methodological problems raised by a franchise that is being played/viewed/analysed in retrospect. The voice behind the call to ‘make us whole’ was not very developed in the first DS. The first convergence event is in DS2. The brother moons revealed in DS3. So can you write about ‘make us whole’ in the first DS, without writing about brother moons?

The other problem that came up when thinking this through (the DS analysis) was about how it fits into the longer work (the manuscript, Play/Able Bodies, due early 2015). In the Skovde and Tampere presentations I was talking about Deus Ex: HR and the ‘logic of the clinic’ (the ‘making real’ that is culturally associated with measurability, and quantification in the game) and then looking at zombies and their role in the apocalypse via Foucault’s work on lepers – and thinking about The Last of Us and The Walking Dead as fantasies about ‘the death of the clinic’ (all this stuff is blogged here, see abstracts, papers etc.).

Anyway…I was thinking about how Dead Space fits or does not fit with these ideas. Because Dead Space is so interested in medical hubris, and while Deus Ex is interested in anatomic display and quantification, it is not neutral or consistently celebratory at all about the idea of augmentation. So it is not simply about being ‘for’ or ‘against’ and the clinic. I think it is more about fantasies of the clinic as tainted – tainted by the alien in DS, tainted by ecnomics (commercialism, labour) in Deus Ex:HR. The games would seem to agree that the clinic is corrupted, but also that the future of the species is dependent on the survival of the clinic, or its restoration to some imagined former state. In The Last of Us, the Fireflies (‘look to the light’, ‘remember who you are’) link medicine and medical sacrifice, with social restoration. Tsk. Look how that turned out…

This will all go in Play/Able Bodies and I’ve been replaying TLOU this week. Amazing game.

When this work started a few years ago I had to explain (often) that ‘this is not social science on people’ and this is not about making tools, or accessibility, and this is not about games or virtual worlds as ‘compensation’ – this work is about the mainstream popular cultural preoccupation with the notion of disability, and the reliance of the idea of abilty, on the notion of disability, and the political implications of this reliance (see disability studies literature for more on all these points). Flipping back to the present: This week on the games network mailing list there are two different conference calls that list ‘games and disability studies/representations of disabilty in games’ as possible topics. So that is progress, yes?

Dead Space and the contaminated clinic (aliens)

Deus Ex: HR and the contaminated clinic (money) – e.g the cutscene at the start of the game, conspirator 1 says ‘what about the clinics’ and his co-conspirator says something like ‘we’ve got them by the purse strings’

The Last Of Us – death of the clinic / death of civil life. Post-apocalypse as post-clinic; thwarted restoration.

Dead Space screenshot

Anatomy and Isaac Clark (Dead Space)

Screenshot from a game

Prosthetic hands, robot hands in Deus Ex: Human Revolutions

Game screenshot

Visiting the clinic in The Last Of Us.