Foucault’s blueprint for horror games

Working with disability theory involves to some degree or other engaging with Foucault, and Foucault appears in the Dead Space analysis (journal article version, in press this month). Anyway,  I’ve been following up.  I found that S. Lalvani’s Photography, Vision, and the Production of Modern Bodies (SUNY Press, 1996), was helpful. As was S. Ball’s Foucault, Power and Education (Routledge, 2013)

There’s bio-power stuff in some game studies papers. In these, for example, where the emphasis is on discipline and productivity in and around MMORPGs.

Dyer-Witheford, N., & De Peuter, G. (2009). Games of empire: Global capitalism and video games (Vol. 29). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Silverman and B.Simon (2009) ‘Discipline and Dragon Kill Points in the Online Power Game’ in Games and Culture October 2009 vol. 4 no. 4 pp 353-378

Here is a quote about Foucault from that Silverman and Simon paper: “sections of his seminal work, Discipline and Punish, can almost be read as a procudural manual for MMOG game designers and guild leaders everywhere” (2009, p 358).

Foucault from History of Sexuality – this is the stuff I’m working with.

…the rise of government and institutional powers directed at the “administration of bodies and the calculated management of life” (Foucault 1978, p. 140). This power was organized around “two poles” (p. 139). The first of these “Centred on the body as a machine: its disciplining, the optimization of its capabilities, the extortion of its forces, the parallel increase of its usefulness and its docility, its integration into systems of efficient and economic controls” (Foucault, 1977, p. 139). The second focused on “the body imbued with the mechanics of life and serving as the basis of the biological processes: propagation, births and mortality, the level of health, life expectancy and longevity, with all the conditions that can cause these to vary.” (Foucault, 1977, p 139).

So…the above quote considered in relation to Dead Space:

“centred on the body as machine” – Isaac, obviously…driven, operated, fixed and fixing

“its disciplining” – Isaac must operate effectively, disciplined by the space itself…strategy, player control – literally, the controls.  Closely watched. Focalization.

“the optimization of its capabilities” – level up, customize

“the extortion of its forces” – capacity to damage

“the parallel increase of its usefulness and its docility” – accuracy, the avatar does more with less of my conscious effort as I improve

“its integration into systems of efficient and economic controls.” –  at both narrative and ludic level

“focused on the species-body, the body imbued with the mechanics of life and serving as the basis of the biological processes” – humans v. aliens

“propagation, births and mortality” Run as themes through Dead Space – foetal monsters, egg layers, unification, overkill…

“the level of health” Honestly…

“life expectancy and longevity”  Obviously…

 

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