Conspiracy Hermeneutics: The Secret World as Weird Tale

Krzywinska, Tanya (2014) Conspiracy Hermeneutics: The Secret World as Weird Tale. Well Played: a journal on video games, value and meaning, 3 (2). ISSN ISSN 2164-344X (Print) ISSN 2164-3458 (Online)

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Abstract / Summary

Through close consideration of the multiplayer online game The Secret World (2012), this paper works towards a definition of “Weird Games” as a basis for advocating the aesthetic potential of Weird for digital games. The paper forms part of a more expansive project to examine the uses and formal specificities of Gothic and Weird in digital games. While the Weird Tale shares some features with Gothic, it has a very distinctive form that is beautifully summed by H.P. Lovecraft:
The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain—a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.
(Cited Joshi, 1990: 6. My italics.)
The Weird Tale may be regarded broadly as a part of twentieth-century populist or even trash writing, but, as this special edition of Well-Played attests, it also has a place in digital games and like Gothic it crosses genres and (plat)forms. Indicative of its presence in Indie games are: Alone (Greenwood Games,2013), developed for the immersive context provided by Oculus Rift providing many opportunities for breaking the fourth wall; Dear Esther (thechineseroom, 2012), which pushed horror grammar towards atmosphere rather than action and The Binding of Isaac (Headup Games, 2011). To these I add examples from prior, bigger budget games such as the Lovecraftian homage Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (Silicon Knights, 2002), the early entries in the Silent Hill series (particularly 1 and 2) and the Twin Peaks-like Deadly Premonition (Access Games, 2010/2012), where a real-time mechanic contributes to the creation of its version of Weird. More than simply adaptation, Weird is exerting an influence on the formation of innovative contemporary game grammar, largely in contention with established conventions. The analytic framework around this assertion is based in an investigation of the ways that the participatory and rule-based nature of digital game form shapes, at a fundamental level, the ways that the Weird tale manifests in games and I will truncate the term to “Weird”, which further helps relocate it outside text-based literature and places emphasis on its affective coordinates. As such, the paper works towards the proposition that there are certain properties of digital games that are capable of generating a new dimension to the affective experience of Weird.

Item Type: Article
ISSN: ISSN 2164-344X (Print) ISSN 2164-3458 (Online)
Subjects: Technology > Digital Works > Digital Games
Courses by Department: The Games Academy > Digital Games
Depositing User: Tanya Krzywinska
Date Deposited: 25 May 2017 15:21
Last Modified: 25 May 2017 15:23
URI: http://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/1925

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