Writing New Bodies in Digital Fiction

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A significant scholarly and popular media criticism of bodily-focused video games is that they perpetuate harmful body image (Barlett and Harris; Sarkeesian). Yet, game scholars such as Kafai, as well as significant subsets of gaming communities, have argued that the medium can act as a resistance mechanism for heteronormative, racist, and anti-queer sociopolitical influence. In a Western context, gendered notions of appearance in media work to affirm an idealized body image for women, communicating that a body that is not white, able-bodied, thin, toned, and feminine, is, in fact, inferior. Continue Reading

The Trouble with Bodies

A Trans Reading of Nier

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Last year, my friend convinced me to play Nier for the first time. Upon initially booting up the title, it seemed like a typical grimdark male power fantasy with severely floaty controls and a muted, masculine aesthetic. Today, I consider it the only mainstream video game I have played that embodies the trans experience. Over the course of my time with Nier, what at first seemed to be a weak narrative scaffolding attempting to justify fetishized violence transformed into a subversive work of empathic queerness. The game has a series of endings, each building upon the last, culminating in a nuanced network of meaning-making. Through these multiple playthroughs and endings, a cohesive queering of the text emerged in my player experience, with the intersection of my own lived-in qualia of being a trans person and the game’s transgressive body politics acting as the thematic core. What follows is the result of this—a deeply personal close reading of Nier as a triumph of trans narratives. Continue Reading