Using the Dark Souls series as an example, I examine how a frame of 'monster of excess' can be used to read giantness in digital games. The monster of excess finds a paradigmatic example in the giant, an age-old mythic figure still prevalent within digital games. Many elements are directly borrowed or translated from other artistic forms such as film and literature. But, in this paper, I focus on how excess is encoded ludically, and how that links with the more representational and aesthetic depictions of excess within the games. I find that elements such as the camera and the game's interface, along with the player-character are all affected by giantness, with giants seeming to exist in excess of the games' established frames.
Too monstrous to be truly accepted, too human to be entirely and comfortably cast out. The giant has traditionally held a unique position amongst monsters, an "Intimate Stranger" (Cohen, 1999, p. xi) who threatens the boundaries of the categories we impose upon the self, society and culture. In this thesis, I consider what the position of the giant is in digital roleplaying games and how digital games provide a new and particular arena for the giant. A familiar figure in myth and legend and no less familiar in digital games, I combine traditional monster theory and scholarship on giants with work on videogame monsters and digital game research more broadly. To do this, I first introduce the figure of the giant and its definition and then undertake a brief literature review, summing up the present state of videogame monster research and other theories which are relevant to my thinking and arguments. Then, I consider the giant in digital roleplaying games through three lenses. First, as monsters of excess, a perspective that considers giants as an exaggerated manifestation of those traits which we deem monstrous when taken to their extremes. Second, as technological giants: giant robots, cyborgs and so on whose appearance as giants links the age-old figure of the giant with our more current anxieties regarding our future and our increasingly intimate relationship with technology. Finally, as aspects of nature: giants that seem to be more a living part of the gameworld than as a horrifying and excessive human monster. I explore how these giants seem to relate more to how we think of and understand our relationship with nature, from its sublime beauty to its hostile wildernesses. To conclude, I attempt to draw these perspectives together to gain an oversight on what role the giant plays within digital roleplaying games, arguing that the giant is a particular figure used to consider and work through our socio-cultural anxieties at the most fundamental level and is one that requires medium-specific consideration within game studies.
The relationship between humankind and technology is fundamental, but also a longstanding source of unease, particularly as that relationship has become ever more intimate and irreversible. In this paper, I connect this age-old anxiety with the age-old figure of the giant, a monster similarly intertwined with ancient questions on the boundaries of humanity. I focus on two examples: the Human-Reaper larva in Mass Effect 2 and Liberty Prime in Fallout 3 and 4. Although different in approach, these examples demonstrate a use of a phenomenon I call the 'techno-giant' to explore and reflect the powerful anxieties in our cultures to do with the future of the human-technology relationship. In particular, both examples expose the human-nonhuman boundary as being exceeding difficult to define and place, despite a constant desire to. The figure of the giant offers a powerful focal point for these representations.