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Free Content Animal Eyes: Gazing at the Animal in Video Games

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Encounters with animals are common in video games, where they are often included to add realism to the gameworld. Encounters with animal subjectivity, however, are not. The anthropocentric nature of video games means that animals are often environmental objects, and sometimes resources, but only occasionally characters, and rarely protagonists. As a consequence, there is no encounter with the animal presence, and often no shared gaze: The look of the animal is instead transformed into something wholly antagonistic (such as in Horizon Zero Dawn), wholly submissive (as in Far Cry Primal) or absent entirely (Red Dead Redemption). Even when video game animals are designed with the intention of “appreciating” the animals, the privileging of their panoptic human spectators just as often results in their objectification.

Keywords: Animal Studies; Game Studies; Video Games

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Games Institute, University of Waterloo

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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