When Ludology and Narratology Meet: A Comparative Analysis of an Ecofictional Video Game and an Ecofictional Book.
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In this master’s thesis, I study the representations of the relationship between the main characters and their wider environment in the ecofictional video game A New Beginning (Final Cut) (2012) by Daedalic Entertainment and in the ecofictional book Code Blue (2018) by Marissa Slaven. The aim of this study is to explore and expand on the ecocritical research on video games and books within the children’s and young adult (YA) literary field of study. The study is innovative because it utilizes Espen Aarseth’s “A Narrative Theory of Games” (2012), which is originally intended to be used while studying video games, to analyse and compare a video game and a novel. Therefore, this master’s thesis is titled “When Ludology and Narratology Meet. A Comparative Analysis of an Ecofictional Video Game and an Ecofictional Book”, because it uses theory and approaches from both fields of study. To analyse the book and the video game ecocritically, I have used the analytical tool “The Nature in Culture Matrix” (The NatCul Matrix) developed by the research group “Nature in Children’s Literature and Culture” (NaChiLitCul), as presented in the book Ecocritical Perspectives on Children’s Texts and Cultures. Nordic Dialogues (Goga, Guanio-Uluru, Hallås and Nyrnes, 2018). I have divided the analysis into three stages (A, B and C). In stage A, I analysed excerpts from the video game and the book in accordance with Aarseth’s (2012) four categories. I decided to combine the categories into pairs: “World and events” and “characters and objects”. In stage B, I used The NatCul Matrix to analyse the representations of the relationship between the main characters and their wider environment that I found in each category from Aarseth’s theory. I placed the categories in regards to the axes and the dimension of “techne” in the NatCul Matrix. First, I analysed and placed each category from the video game into the matrix, separately. Then, I did the same with the categories in the book. The NatCul Matrix has a vertical axis that describes attitudes from a celebrating to a problematizing of nature, and a horizontal axis showing a continuum between the ecocentric horizon and the anthropocentric horizon. The last dimension of the matrix circumscribes the notion of techne, which emphasizes that all works are created by humans and for humans. In stage C, I analysed and compared the representations of the relationship between the main characters and their wider environment, which I found in the categories “world and events” and “characters and objects” in the video game with the corresponding representations that I found in the categories in the book. I did this by comparing how the different categories were placed within The NatCul Matrix in both the video game and the book. Within all the three analysis stages, I have drawn on Wolfgang Iser’s (1972, p. 285) reader-response theory, in particular his term “gap”, which I used to analyse the differences and similarities of interpreting a story as a player and as a reader, and to gather information about the relationship between the main characters and their wider environment. The findings reveal that the representations of the relationship between the main characters and their wider environment reside within the portrayal of the world and events, and in the interactions between the characters and the objects filling the respective works’ portrayal of the world. Because these representations exist within human-made stories, in a video game and a book, the representations are mediated and will inherently carry representations of how humans position themselves in relation to nature. I also found that it is possible to ecocritically compare representations of the relationship between the main characters and their wider environment in a video game and a book, by using a theoretical framework that combines ludology and narratology.
Master’s Thesis in Children and Young Adults’ Literature Faculty of Education Submission Date: 15.05.2019