Associate Professor, School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication, The University ofTexas at Dallas
This article explores complicity as a tool for narrative expression in digital games. Complicity is defined as the moment in which the player is required to do something they find morally or ethically repugnant in order to continue playing the game. Direct and indirect forms of complicity exist in multiple digital games, but two recent titles, INSIDE and The Swapper, use complicity to explore player/character identity in structurally and mechanically complex ways. Ultimately, they show how the digital game as an art form can present players and audiences with meaningful experiences that are unique to the medium of games.
The first few minutes of Playdead’s INSIDE (2016) offer the following potential deaths: shooting, drowning, strangulation, mauled to death by dogs, falling, shot by darts, and drowning (again). As these deaths happen to a small, vulnerable boy, and as each one is animated in substantial, visceral detail, this is a potentially off-putting start for the average player—even one inured to the casual, comic-book-style violence of many other games.
As an art object, INSIDE has a great deal to offer players in terms of meaning-making, personal re ection, and aesthetic experience, much of which depends on the numerous awful things that can happen to the small boy, its player character. The developers of INSIDE have carefully chosen and deployed its violent content, as well as the substantial number of disturbing situations in which the small boy finds himself. For players to experience and understand INSIDE as an art object, they must take part in these disturbing, violent situations, most of which they are required to interact with or even directly cause.
The question of whether games qualify as an artistic medium has unfortunately endured, to the point that designer Tim Schafer, when asked whether games were art in 2007, replied, “Here we go again.”  As the Museum of Modern Art in New York added fourteen digital games to their permanent collection in 2012, the question “Are games art?” has been replaced by discussions regarding worthwhile artistic expression in games, as well as aspects of the medium that best lend themselves to that expression.  I consider games to be a primarily interactive medium with great potential for expression through visual aesthetics, sound, and narrative, as well as through the player’s unique aggregate experience.
Digital games are unique for the ways in which audiences must make their way through them, most commonly though the act of interactive play. For many digital games, much of a player’s in-game experience revolves around bettering their abilities, acquiring new skills and resources, or improving their strategies to overcome increasingly difficult or complex challenges. Developers and creative practitioners are accustomed to difficulty as a barrier for their audience, most often in areas of skill such as precision, timing, strategic ability, or even simple muscle memory. If a player can’t simply overcome the challenges presented, they will stop playing the game, meaning that the entirety of the experience is blocked to them—a concern that presents its own challenge to developers of deliberately difficult games such as Super Meat Boy (Team Meat, 2010) or the Dark Souls series (FromSoftware, 2011-2016). 
Fewer games present moral or ethical barriers to their players. Players are accustomed to thinking “I can’t do that” or “I don’t know how to do that,” with the understanding that the game’s structures and scaffolding will help them overcome each successive challenge. More rarely does a player think, “I don’t want to do that,” particularly while simultaneously thinking, “But I want to keep playing this game.” Additionally, the interactive nature of games means we aren’t simply watching something awful happen, but are engaged in making it happen. This may occur by our direct actions and choices, or by allowing something to happen through deliberate inaction, choosing the lesser of two evils, or lack of skill.
This presents an opportunity in that a player with two completing impulses—“I want to keep playing, but I don’t want to perform this action”—can be pulled out of immersion for a moment of reflection on the content and events of the game. Subsequently, their choices in and after such moments carry greater weight, and can allow for substantial meaning-making in digital games. I define this notion as complicity: the moment in which the player is required to do something they find morally or ethically repugnant in order to continue playing the game. Alternatively, complicity can be defined as the moment in which the player’s moral or ethical stance is at odds with that of the protagonist character, even if their goals are in harmony.
In a medium in which “fun,” with its multitude of definitions and meanings, is still often seen as the most important metric by which we define a worthwhile game, complicity allows developers and creators to explore storytelling in games from two primary angles.  First, the inclusion of moral or ethical ambiguity allows for a wider spectrum of storytelling structures. In addition to the coming-of-age tales and heroic archetypes that currently dominate the landscape, digital games have the potential to tell stories with moral and ethical complexity; characters diverse in age, background, ethnicity, and gender and sexuality; a variety of scopes, including games about the small, the personal, and the banal; and mature, complex themes that are engaging for a wider variety of adult audiences. Secondly, as complicity depends entirely on the interactive nature of digital games, it presents an opportunity to tell stories that are best told, or perhaps only able to be told, in the medium of games.  Complicity can therefore be considered a useful tool for narrative expression in digital games, and can help designers and creative practitioners explore new structures for creating narrative art in digital interactive media.
Complicity as a Tool for Artistic Expression
Questions about the relationship between games and narrative have fueled a great deal of scholarship, from Jesper Juul’s notion of the “half-real,” in which he posits that games are simultaneously real experiences and imagined fictional worlds;  to Clint Hocking’s discussions of ludo-narrative dissonance, harmony, and parity;  to Chris Crawford’s argument that interactive storytelling is an entirely new expressive medium, more than “video games with story superglued on,” and that an interesting story does not necessarily engender an interesting interactive experience.  A full investigation of the relationship between narrative and games is beyond the scope of this article, but it’s worth noting that digital games are not, fundamentally, a narrative medium, but are a fundamentally interactive medium with great potential for narrative expression. Digital games are also in a constant state of change, both in terms of their underlying technologies and in the expansion of what, as art objects, they are able or allowed to do.
There is no established set of best practices for digital game development, but it’s worth noting that players choose to play games for a multitude of complementary reasons and there are many reasons players may be willing to overlook flaws in narrative or storytelling in favor of excellence in mechanical gameplay.  Additionally, it’s generally agreed that developers want players to remain fully immersed in their game for as long as possible, or at least for an appropriate duration of game time. Any elements that break players out of that state of flow, from aesthetic glitches to badly-tuned gameplay, are detrimental and should be revised or eliminated if possible.  Deliberately breaking players out of immersion is extremely risky, but can be rewarding if handled correctly. Nearly twenty years after its initial release, the horror title Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (Silicon Knights, 2002) is infamous for its insanity mechanic, which usually presented the player character with grotesque hallucinations, but under specific conditions broke the fourth wall by feigning that the game console had crashed and the player’s saved game had been deleted. More recently, games that break the fourth wall, such as Undertale (Toby Fox, 2015) and The Stanley Parable (Davey Wreden, 2011), do so within the context of the game’s narrative, often by acknowledging openly that the player is part of an interactive story, which arguably keeps players immersed in both the game and the narrative.
Complicity, as an aspect of narrative design, requires not only that the player’s immersion is broken but that they engage in a moment of reflection on the events that have occurred. An example of direct complicity can be found in the original God of War (SIE Santa Monica Studio, 2005), a straightforward but viscerally-rewarding action game in which combat challenges and puzzle challenges are often aligned, such that the player must handle both at once. The game includes a puzzle in which Kratos, the game’s anti-hero and only playable character, must burn a caged soldier alive in order to progress. There is no alternative solution, and no other way to continue playing the game, meaning that the crying, begging non-player character (NPC) must be sacrificed—in relatively gory, on-screen detail. Up to this point, the player-as-Kratos has killed hundreds of enemies, mostly monsters and fantasy creatures that initiate combat with the player. This moment, in which a terrified, unwilling human must be painfully and arbitrarily killed, can give the player pause, particularly as this single death sits outside the context of strategic challenge or visceral enjoyment. That said, the soldier’s death is a rare, arguably unique moment in God of War, and one that ultimately has little impact on the player’s experience, as the game never returns to this theme.
The same cannot be said for Spec Ops: The Line (Yager Development, 2K Games, 2012), a squad-based third-person shooter that reimagines Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, by way of Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, in a contemporary version of the Middle East.  The game builds on a series of increasingly questionable decisions to subvert its ostensible “heroic American soldiers in the desert” narrative, unfortunately common to many other modern-day shooters. Unlike God of War, in which the player must make a questionable decision immediately, Spec Ops: The Line presents choices to the player with incorrect, ambiguous, or incomplete information, such that the player is pulled out of immersion not in the moment of decision, but in response to that decision’s revealed consequences. One of the clearest examples is the “white phosphorous” mission, in which players must deploy a chemical weapon against enemy combatants, who are later revealed to have been forty-seven civilian refugees, including women and children. Ultimately, the developers of Spec Ops: The Line use escalating moments of complicity to ask their players to question the nature of heroism itself, particularly as it exists in wartime.
Similar structures exist at the end of Braid (Number None, Inc., 2008), in which the player discovers they have been not the hero but the aggressor over the course of the game; the late-game revelations in The Last of Us (Naughty Dog, 2013) and Shadow of the Colossus (Team ICO, 2005) are also intended to cause players to question a morally ambiguous choice and the entire series of choices that led them there. A related concern for developers, particularly in the case of Shadow of the Colossus, is that some players focus on gameplay to the exclusion of narrative content, and therefore may overlook or ignore a game’s subtler cues toward complicity. Regardless, when crafted with an eye toward intentionality, moments of complicity can be devastatingly effective as an emotional touchstone for the player.
To understand the spectrum of complicity in games, one must also understand how identity theory works in the context of game studies. Multiple models of identity are used consistently in both academic game studies and professional game development, from James Paul Gee’s hi- erarchy of identity with its performative aspects to Matthias Worch’s “identity bubble” in which player, character, and person must be in sync.  For the purposes of this article, suffice it to say that players must relate to the player character and be the player character simultaneously, and that this entanglement makes the question of who is responsible for each decision and its aftermath particularly fraught. There are decidedly complex layers of identity, agency, and per- formance involved, especially in the moment of immersive gameplay.
Ultimately, complicity depends on the moment in which a player steps back and considers the game, however briefly, as a fictional object. As a tool for designers, it affords a new way to express meaning in an interactive medium, particularly for narratively-focused games with mature, morally ambiguous content. Structurally, while complicity commonly depends on moral or ethical choice, it can be employed in the service of other themes, including the political, the philosophical, and even the spiritual. Most recently, two games, Playdead’s INSIDE and Facepalm Games’ The Swapper (2013), have used moments of complicity to explore questions of identity, otherness, and self. In a medium in which the player and the player-character are entangled, this is both a worthwhile ambition and a substantial challenge.
Complicity, Ethics, and Identity in The Swapper
Digital games can have a profound effect on players for many reasons, not the least of which is how completely they can put you in someone else’s shoes. Science fiction can have a profound effect on audiences for a very different reason: if art is about exploring what it means to be human, then science fiction is one of the few narrative genres that can do so from outside humanity’s perspective. Authors and creative practitioners constantly strive to conceive of worlds, cultures, and life forms that are fundamentally not human, often to shine a light on the complexities of human existence. Gary Wolf notes that science fiction provides audiences with “mythic reflections of themselves and their potential environments,” and as a genre is uniquely suited to a technological society in that it explores “the mythic aspects of reason itself.”  It follows that science fiction digital games have great potential for artistic expression, particularly when dealing with human reasoning and the implications of new technologies.
The Swapper, originally developed by two students at the University of Helsinki, is clearly a work of science fiction, but one with overt references to Greek mythology. Early in the game, players are introduced to a ship named “The Theseus,” a doomed expedition named “Project Sisyphus,” and a group of potentially intelligent rocks dubbed “The Watchers” that communicate through vaguely philosophical questions about the nature of identity, humanity, and self. In the first few minutes, players gain control of the Swapper device, which allows you, the player, to create up to four clones of yourself, resulting in five total “selves” on screen at any given time. (It’s worth noting that, in writing about this game, the semantic difference between “me,” “you,” and “the player” is especially tricky.) These five bodies are simultaneously controlled, and move identically based on the inputs of the player’s controller, unless limited by the game environment. You can swap your consciousness—here represented by the clone on which the camera centers—between any of the five bodies, unless your line-of-sight is limited by the environment. The game only ends with “your” death if the clone you are currently embodying dies.
Very early on, players discover that clones must invariably be left behind or killed. Leaving a room causes non-embodied clones to dissolve, as does walking through the white lights serving as level markers. Clones that touch dissolve into each other, meaning that all five can be reconstituted into a single body with relative ease. Falling from too high a height will kill a clone, but consciousness can be swapped between clones in midair, meaning that you can cross large chasms or scale great heights—in essence, flying—by creating a clone high above yourself, swapping into it, and repeating as necessary until you’ve reached whatever ledge or platform you want to reach, leaving a pile of broken bodies beneath you. This maneuver and others like it become second nature quite quickly. For players who might initially feel some guilt over the growing number of corpses, the game’s swapper mechanic lends itself to a simple justification: “That wasn’t me.” As the game remains ambiguous on whether each new clone constitutes a person, one can argue that dead clones were simply empty vessels rather than people, and go on killing them with impunity for the duration of the game.
The paradox of the Ship of Theseus, a thought experiment in classical metaphysics, is particularly apt here: in short, if every part of a physical thing is replaced over time, is it still fundamentally the original thing? Additionally, if the replaced parts are kept and gradually reconstituted into a second thing, which of those two things is now the “real” thing?  To some, the paradox illustrates an argument between an object’s history and its physicality. In context of The Swapper, it may be better described as an argument between physicality and consciousness, in that by inhabiting multiple, presumably identical bodies, the player has almost certainly left their original body far behind, but is presumed to still be the same person by the game’s logic. Looking at the game’s references to Greek myth, one can pair the Ship of Theseus with the myth of Sisyphus—the man doomed to spend eternity trying and failing to roll a heavy rock to the top of a hill—and the game’s narrative thrust starts to take shape. Players must grapple with identity in that their history with the player character over the course of the game conflicts with the physicality of each abandoned or dissolved clone. The constant tension of trying to get back to “you,” but not being sure which of your clones, if any, is the original, paired with the trial-by-death nature of many of the game’s puzzles, ensures that the player is constantly striving toward this impossible goal. The two myths are joined in the mechanical structure of the game, creating an increasingly uncomfortable narrative experience for the player.
In terms of complicity, players must choose to swap their consciousness multiple times, or else not play the game. Swapping is the core mechanic, after all, and arguably the main draw for many players. The relationship between player and player character is complicated by the swapping mechanic, such that our identity as the player is immediately entangled with the evolving identity or identities of the main character, which makes the game’s ending scene that much more impactful.
The last moments of The Swapper present a choice between identity and survival. Our intrepid explorer and her clones have escaped the doomed station and reached a rescue ship. Through an environmental contrivance, four of the clones have already been left behind, leaving the player embodying the last clone, which without the ability to swap feels less like one of five and more like “you.” The rescue ship is perched conveniently on the other side of a chasm, and its captain exits to inform you that, unfortunately, they have arrived without the proper decontamination equipment and you won’t be rescued after all. As the captain turns to reenter his ship, it is heavily implied through the game’s interface that, should you choose to do so, you can swap into the captain’s body and survive.
Observant players will have noticed by this point that person-to-person swapping, rather than person-to-clone, is a fundamentally bad idea, as it either fries both brains or merges them to the point that “you” no longer exist, and likely now suffer from serious amnesia as well. Even unobservant players will have interacted recently with non-player characters that attempted a person-to-person swap, with dubious results. Either way, it’s clear that survival will require the destruction of your identity as a person. Alternatively, you can choose not to swap and remain yourself, at which point the ship will depart, and your only remaining choice—apart from turning the game off then and there—is to jump into the chasm. In other words: stay yourself and die, or sacrifice yourself and live.
In digital games, inspiring players to care deeply about their survival is a substantial challenge, particularly given the prevalence of save points, respawn systems, and a culture that expects a certain amount of trial and error. The developers of The Swapper have made an unusual choice in that, unlike the majority of games, the choice you make at the end of the game is effectively irrevocable. Whether you chose to swap into the captain or not, you can no longer revert to your most recent saved game, meaning that experiencing the other ending requires a second full playthrough of the game – or at least a few minutes of searching through internet videos. Regardless, the developers have made a concerted effort to present the final choice to the player as much as to the character, further complicating their already entangled identities.
This is a clear moment of complicity in that the player, presented with a direct choice, is pulled out of immersion and asked to reflect on the moment, and on the nature of identity, before making that choice. Unlike similar moments in which progression depends on choosing to take one specific action, such as sacrificing the doomed soldier in God of War or the final choice in Shadow of the Colossus, The Swapper presents two options and two consequences. By framing the last choice in the game around a question of identity, rather than as the beginning of an ethical slippery slope, The Swapper presents a narrative climax that is personal in its presentation, in that the player’s own identity is fundamentally entangled with the player character’s already fractious selves. Digital games are uniquely equipped to deal with these issues of identity because the interactive nature of the medium, particularly its interfaces of control, ensures that the player’s own identity is inevitably caught up with that of the playable character. In the moment of sacrifice, following hours of immersive play, we can’t help but conflate the character with ourselves, and the choice becomes a referendum on our personal ideas about identity versus survival.
Complicity and Control in Inside
The aesthetics of INSIDE will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played Playdead Studio’s first game, Limbo (2010). As in Limbo, players of INSIDE control a precisely animated, continuously imperiled little boy who runs, jumps, swings, and puzzles his way through moody black-and-white environments heavily reminiscent of German expressionist film. In retrospect, the similarly dark Limbo feels like a prototype for INSIDE, particularly in the second game’s expansion on some of the first’s core mechanics. Both games successfully inspire players to care about these vulnerable little boys, who are immediately subject to a variety of gruesome, painstakingly animated deaths.
Unlike Limbo, it quickly becomes apparent that INSIDE is principally a game about control,
both as it relates to the game’s narrative theming and the interactive relationship between the player and the game’s few playable characters, many of which are controlled indirectly. A number of early scenes are narratively ambiguous but thematically clear on this point: a seemingly dead pig attacks, but only until a wriggling worm is removed from its body; baby chicks flock after the player for unclear reasons until fed into a benign wind-blowing machine; some humans move under their own impetus, while others stumble zombie-like under a set of ambiguous orders. An early puzzle requires the player match the small boy’s movements to a line of zombified humans in order to escape detection by the real humans and their children, who are apparently inspecting them.
It doesn’t take long to discover a headpiece with a yellow light that, when attached to the boy’s head, allows you to control multiple zombie-like humans in order to solve puzzles. As in The Swapper, zombified humans move identically to the boy, unless hindered by environmental obstacles. Unlike The Swapper’s clones, the zombies in INSIDE seem to have minimal personalities in their animations, and maintain a strong attachment to the boy himself. They crowd painfully close around the boy any time he stops moving, and a cluster of hands and arms lift or toss him upwards when he needs to reach items and ledges. Mechanically, this structure of control evolves in complexity over the course of the game, such that a later puzzle requires you to collect twenty zombified humans to open a door, one of which is a literal corpse that must be dragged to the exit. A particularly noteworthy puzzle requires you to use humans that are missing arms, legs, heads, or are otherwise malformed, as if they are products of experiments gone wrong. In these moments, players should start to feel uncomfortable with what they are forcing the small boy and his unwitting companions to do in order to keep playing the game. The brief moments of respite between puzzles, built in as mental breathing room for the player, also allow for these moments of reflection and concern.
The last section of the game, in a moment that invokes decades of body horror cinema, begins once the boy has reached a large water tank surrounded by human observers who are, for once, uninterested in killing, neutralizing, or otherwise devoting any attention to the boy.  At the center of the tank, constrained by four control headpieces, is an amorphous blob of humanoid flesh, arms, and legs. In the absence of any other possible interactions, the boy removes the four devices and is seamlessly absorbed into the fleshy mass, at which point control of the mass is given to the player. The transition is handled quickly and skillfully enough to allay any potential shock players might feel upon becoming this horrific, if beautifully animated, thing, not to mention the bizarreness of the situation. What follows is a surprisingly raucous, even joyous, romp through the facility with the mass, destroying furniture, windows, and walls; scattering and potentially killing humans in your way; and searching for some means of escape. While most of the remaining humans run, hide, or attempt to recapture you, a few actually help you along your way, until you break out of the facility, roll down one last hill, and come to rest on a grassy overlook. The game ends with the fleshy mass resting, exhausted, in a field of gently waving grass as the sun rises quietly over the sea—an astounding, jarring image, but one well earned by the events of the game.
Even in this cathartic moment, the issue of control between player, character, and narrative world, is pervasive. Given INSIDE’s consistent ambiguity, even the most attentive player won’t be quite sure who has done exactly what to whom, and for what purpose, even after the credits have rolled. The boy is initially presented
as imperiled and defenseless, and one can argue that we are naturally predisposed to feel sympathetic toward the character we control. The flesh mass, however, is monstrous and off-putting, more akin to the demons, mutants, and genetic experiments gone wrong that appear as enemies in countless other digital games. INSIDE presents the mass as sympathetic also, despite the boy’s fate, both by giving the player immediate control and by the circumstances and aesthetics of its escape. At no point is the history of the mass, the boy, the facility, the zombified humans, or their relationship to each other made explicit, leaving the player to draw substantial conclusions based on the game’s atmosphere and its structures of control.
In terms of complicity, the ethics of the situation are deliberately unclear, although one can argue that liberating the flesh mass from the facility is at least a good thing for the flesh mass. Contextually, it’s unclear if the boy was originally part of the flesh mass and wants to return to it, or is being called to it for some other reason, or is a fully-aware, non-zombified human that is ultimately sacrificed, or chooses to be sacrificed, to it. It is abundantly clear that the player’s role in controlling the boy gets him there. While we as players identify first with the boy and then with the mass, once one has been absorbed without choice or control into the other, questions of player-character identity abound. Complicating matters, there exists a “secret ending” in which, if a certain number of devices have been found and deactivated, the boy can be directed to an underground facility in which something that looks suspiciously like a master control headpiece can be deactivated as well. If the player chooses to do this, the last image of the game is the boy slumping to the ground, much like the zombified humans do when control is relinquished by the player.
Playdead Studios has used a fundamentally interactive medium to raise substantive questions about the nature of control. The player must engage with the game, as with any piece of in- teractive art, to understand it, and the quality of that engagement necessarily involves the player in the morally ambiguous choices that follow. As a purely narrative experience, INSIDE may be somewhat inaccessible to many players, due to its more cryptic qualities. As an artistic expression, however, its impact cannot be ignored, in that even the most mechanically-focused players will certainly have questions by the game’s end. The discomfort that the game’s mechanics and setting gradually develop, paired with the shock value of the last twenty minutes of gameplay and the jarring image of the flesh mass resting peacefully on a grassy overlook, encourages questions of control, identity, and how much the player is responsible for the bizarrely moving things that have taken place.
Why Complicity Matters
Amid discussions about identity theory and ambiguous moral choice, it is easy to overlook that both INSIDE and The Swapper are fun. In the moment of play, they present thought-provoking puzzles, satisfying feedback, and the pleasure of overcoming increasingly challenging obstacles within complex, detailed, and aesthetically unique worlds. By the judgment of most game critics and reviewers, as well as the overall gaming community, both are generally considered to meet the standards of good games—meaning that they are more likely to be played, finished, and considered by a wider audience.  Designers and critics of digital games must reconcile the more enjoyable aspects of their medium with the seriousness of their themes, a conversation that has been ongoing in development and academic circles.
INSIDE and The Swapper depend on interactive play to explore identity and control, and both successfully cause the player, through their choices, to become complicit in those explorations. In other words, the audience isn’t observing a character making a difficult choice or regretting an action, but is coerced into taking those actions, directly or indirectly, and subsequently experiencing the consequences. In both cases, the player’s immersion in the game environment, as well as their perceived control over the environment, characters, and experience, are important parts of the experience. In her essay on positive discomfort in Spec Ops: The Line, researcher Kristine Jørgensen notes that “the game oversteps the sense of safety created by detachment, but by positioning the player as somehow responsible, the sense of safety connected to the fact that this is “play” also threatens to break.”  She also stresses that her study focuses on a game that is narratively subversive, and therefore most useful for “understanding situations where emotional drama in games is appreciated.” Both INSIDE and The Swapper may be described in the same terms, presenting situations and structures in which a player, understanding the single-player game experience to be at least partially fictional, gradually becomes uncomfortable with the responsibility felt towards the characters and events that unfold through their actions, and is therefore open to a richer, more complex experience than might otherwise be possible in a non-interactive medium.
In the simplest of terms, complicity matters because it is a tool for creating powerful narrative experiences that are potentially unique to digital games. A better understanding of how complicity, identity, and immersion intertwine to create these experiences for players will help artists and designers take one more step forward in understanding, utilizing, and ultimately pushing the boundaries of this constantly evolving medium.
Monica Evans, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) at the University of Texas at Dallas. She develops educational and experimental games, both digital and analog, and directs both the Narrative Systems Research Lab and the Games Research Lab in ATEC.
1. Bryan Ochalla, “Are Games Art? (Here We Go Again.)” Gamasutra, March 16, 2007, accessed May 6, 2017, http://www. gamasutra.com/view/feature/130113/are_games_art_here_we_go_.php
2. Paola Antonelli, “Video Games: 14 in the Collection, for Starters,” INSIDE/Out: A MoMA/MoMA PS1 Blog, November 29, 2012, accessed May 6, 2017, https://www.moma.org/explore/INSIDE_out/2012/11/29/video-games-14-in-the-collection-for-starters/; Michael Burden and Sean Gouglas, “The Algorithmic Experience: Portal as Art,” Game Studies 12, no. 2 (2012), http://gamestudies.org/1202/articles/the_algorithmic_experience; James Paul Gee, “Video Games, Design, and Aesthetic Experience,” Rivista di Estetica 63, no. 3 (2016): 149-160.
3. Michael Thomsen, “Dark Night (After Night After Night) of the Soul,” Slate, February 28, 2016, accessed May 9, 2017, http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/gaming/2012/02/dark_souls_review_is_a_100_hour_video_game_ever_worth- while_.html.
4. Robin Hunicke, Marc Leblanc, and Robert Zubek, “MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research,” in Proceedings of the Challenges in Games AI Workshop, Nineteenth National Conference of Arti cial Intelligence (San Jose, CA: AAAI Press, 2004), 2.
5. Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun for Game Design (Scottsdale AZ: Paraglyph Press, 2005); Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, 2nd ed. (Boca Raton FL: CRC Press, 2014); Richard Rouse III, Game Design: Theory and Practice, 2nd ed., Wordware Games Developer Library (Burlington MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2004).
6. Jesper Juul, Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 2005), 1.
7. Clint Hocking, “Ludonarrative dissonance in Bioshock: The problem of what the game is about,” in Well Played 1.0, ed. Drew Davidson (Pittsburgh PA: Carnegie Mellon ETC Press, 2009), 114-117.
8. Chris Crawford, Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling, 2nd ed. (San Francisco: New Riders, 2012).
9. Hunicke, LeBlanc, and Zubek, 2; Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun for Game Design (Scottsdale AZ: Paraglyph Press, 2005).
10. Sean Baron, “Cognitive Flow: The Psychology of Great Game Design,” Gamasutra, March 22, 2012, accessed May 9, 2017, http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/166972/cognitive_flow_the_psychology_of_.php.
11. Hollander Cooper, “Spec Ops: The Line—Learn about story with lead writer Walt Williams,” Gamesradar, March 30, 2012, accessed May 2, 2017, http://www.gamesradar.com/spec-ops-line-learn-about-story-lead-writer-walt-williams/.
12. James Paul Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (St. Martin’s Griffin: New York, 2003), 51- 71; Matthias Worch, “The Identity Bubble: A Design Approach to Story and Character Creation” (paper presented at the Game Developers Conference, San Francisco, California, February 28–March 4, 2011).
13. Gary Wolfe, The Known and the Unknown: Iconography of Science Fiction (Kent OH: The Kent State University Press, 1946), 4-5.
14. The Ship of Theseus Paradox is most notably recorded by Plutarch in The Life of Theseus, written in the late first century: “The ship on which Theseus sailed with the youths and returned in safety, the thirty-oared galley, was preserved by the Athenians down to the time of Demetrius Phalereus. They took away the old timbers from time to time, and put new and sound ones in their places, so that the vessel became a standing illustration for the philosophers in the mooted question of growth, some declaring that it remained the same, others that it was not the same vessel.” Plutarch, The Parallel Lives, Vol. I, trans. Bernadotte Perrin (Cambridge MA: Loeb Classical Library, 1914), 49.
15. Julia Kristeva, in her seminal text Powers of Horror, refers to the abject as the human reaction to a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between subject and object or between self and other. Body horror, a popular sub-genre of horror cinema since the 1980s, can be theorized as a literal projection of the abject. Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia UP, 1982), 10-13; Philip Brophy, “Horrality—The Textuality of Contemporary Horror,” Screen 27, no. 1 (1986): 2-13; Ronald Allan Lopez Cruz, “Mutations and Metamorphoses: Body Horror is Biological Horror,” Journal of Popular Film and Television, 40, no. 4 (2012): 160-168.
16. Patrick Hancock, “Review: The Swapper: Me, myself, I, yours truly, and me again,” Destructoid, May 30, 2013, accessed May 8, 2017, https://www.destructoid.com/review-the-swapper-254540.phtml; Nick Robinson, “INSIDE Deftly Explores Darkness Without Resorting to Humor,” Polygon, June 28, 2016, accessed May 8, 2017, https://www.polygon.com/2016/6/28/12049410/INSIDE-review.
17. Kristine Jørgensen, “The Positive Discomfort of Spec Ops: The Line,” Game Studies 16, no. 2 (2016), http://gamestudies. org/1602/articles/jorgensenkristine.