Project

Giants and Monsters

Goal: This project collects my research on monsters, and often more specifically on giants. In these works, I view monsters primarily as reflections and manifestations of cultural anxieties and boundary-forming, and explore how this works in digital games more specifically.

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Project log

Dom Ford
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This project collects my research on monsters, and often more specifically on giants. In these works, I view monsters primarily as reflections and manifestations of cultural anxieties and boundary-forming, and explore how this works in digital games more specifically.
 
Dom Ford
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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.
Dom Ford
added 2 research items
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.