4th International Conference

Digital Culture & AudioVisual Challenges

Interdisciplinary Creativity in Arts and Technology

Hybrid - Corfu/Online, May 13-14, 2022

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Familiarizing with Dread: The Monstrous and the Players’ Narrative Engagement in “Elden Ring”
Date and Time: 14/05/2022 (19:00-20:30)
Location: Ionian Academy
Angelos Papavlasopoulos, Agnes Papadopoulou, Andreas Giannakoulopoulos, Andreas Floros

Digital games and ludic environments that provoke dread and horror has shown an increase in popularity over the last two decades. The plethora of game titles belonging in the horror game genre is constantly expanding with players searching for new ways of getting “familiarized” with dread. The similarities of “Elden Ring” with some of the most famous video game titles such as (Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Demon Souls, etc.) leaves space for exploration on how a game utilizes grotesque and sublime (Vella, 2015), to achieve narrative engagement with monstrous and dread representations combined with inner fears. The predecessors of “Elden Ring” heralded a divergence from the dipole of survival or horror (Theodorou, 2020, p. 85), and pushed the players into ludic environments where the narrative was surrounding them ready to be explored. The ongoing representation of the horror in digital games showcases the tendency of players to familiarize with the depictions of monstrosity (Mortensen, Linderoth, & Brown, 2015), in a way of challenging themselves to withstand the portraiture and face their inner fears (Geraci, Recine, & Fox, 2016, p. 213).
This paper searches for the resemblance of the monstrous and dread depictions of “Elden Ring” with the sense of “ilinx” as an altering perception of experiencing strong emotions such as panic, fear and ecstasy (Caillois & Barash, 2001, p. 44); and raises the question whether this is the main element of the players’ narrative engagement with the horror genre (Freed-Thall, 2018, p. 70). The monstrous depictions of excess arise an example of mythos which is still prevalent within digital games (Ford, 2020). Many elements are straight forward borrowed or translated from other artistic forms like film and literature. The focus of this paper is on how dread is encoded ludically, and how players' narrative engagement is linked with the representational and aesthetic depictions of dread within horror games (Bjørkelo & Jørgensen, 2018) and especially in the case of “Elden Ring”.
The findings are examined using a theoretical analysis, “textual” interpretation, and empirical data collected through interviews with players studying in higher education institutes. The current paper showcases the association of the depiction of monstrous and dread in the form of the sense of “ilinx” and their extensions on affecting players’ narrative engagement.
The emergence of this ludo-narrative approach examines the ways in which “Elden Ring” elaborates said depictions to the player as a violent thrust of narrative engagement from the storyteller to the players’ living their in-game experiences; it is an exploration of digital game ludic interpretations of dread and monstrous depictions wrapped with mythos which questions through the lens of digital game analysis their value on the players' narrative engagement.

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