Differences in Design: Video Game Design in Pre and Post 9/11 America
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Video games are constructed through a bundle of processes meant to imitate an understanding of the world through the associations of the technology used to create a game and a design team. From opening doors to courting a mate, videogames can and do explore a wide variety of societal structures. This thesis presents an examination of the processes that occur within and during the making of 12 action videogames made between the years 1996 and 2006. It examines the intent of game makers by analyzing the content of videogames cross-referenced with fan-produced archival playthroughs of these games. Using the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, a point at which the American collective consciousness changed, I aim to display how local culture influences video games and how video games imitate that change. My preliminary results suggest that video games do typically pull from the local culture. Games from 1996 generally imitate the fear of scientific progress and environmental destruction. By 2005, videogames imitate post-2001 culture through a greater focus on war safety through constant companionship, nesting or development of a living space that is constantly under attack, and antagonists changing from world-conquering leaders or scientists to an unknown, obtusely motivated charismatic enemy. As such, videogames are a means through which sociologists can examine the associations between technology, people as developers, and players. This research has important implications for the current state of public discourse about videogames that is typically focused on negative effects.