The Wounds That Never Healed : An Analysis of Videoludic Trauma in Cry of Fear
Poirier-Poulin, Samuel (2021)
Master's Programme in Game Studies
Informaatioteknologian ja viestinnän tiedekunta - Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences
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Julkaisun pysyvä osoite on
Building on horror studies and trauma theory, this thesis proposes a conceptualization of videoludic trauma in horror video games, and in Cry of Fear (Team Psykskallar, 2013) in particular. More specifically, it develops the idea that Cry of Fear can induce trauma in the player by putting them in horrifying and intense situations. This thesis starts by defining fiction fear, videoludic fear, art-horror, and real horror, as these concepts were developed in cognitive film theory and game studies. It highlights the dialogue between videoludic trauma and real horror and argues that video games can cut across the reality/fiction divide and deeply impact on the emotional organization of the player. This thesis then presents major works that have shaped the field of trauma studies and conceptualizes videoludic trauma by drawing on bleed theory and current scholarship on transgressive games. It introduces the concepts of impactful trauma and hurtful trauma to differentiate between a relatively safe aesthetic experience and an experience that is more intrusive, stays with the player, and can be harmful on the long term. Finally, using the tools of close reading and transactional theory, this thesis examines how Cry of Fear represents trauma symptomatology through its narrative and visuals. The analysis ends with four vignettes that each focuses on a specific aspect or moment in the game that had a strong impact on my gameplay experience and led me to experience hurtful trauma—from the visceral combat system to the loss of a game character. This thesis contributes to the growing literature on trauma in video games. It is a first step toward a conceptualization of trauma that focuses on its transmission from the game to the player and on the relationship between trauma and the horror genre.