Romantic Dissonance: (the Limits to) Wandering through Nature in Open World Role-Playing Videogames
Haan, J. de
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In the fields studying arts, Romanticism and the tendency of Romantics to escape everyday life into a perfect depiction of nature, often without leaving the house, is well-known with scholars. The fact that videogames seem to follow this trend has been neglected by many. Games allow for escapist tendencies as well as a new form of immersion, namely incorporation. Additionally, open world role-playing games offer players the means to wander through nature like flâneurs. Terms such as technoromanticism and electro-Romanticism have appeared, connecting Romanticism to technology and videogames, but these accounts remain theoretical. With the help of textual analysis as described by Fernández-Vara and instrumental/free play as provided by Glas & Van Vught, this thesis delves into the Romantic in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and World of Warcraft. For one, the aestheticisation of nature is noted, consisting of the visual style of nature as well as the fact that both games are built upon mostly pre-industrial worlds. When analysing the mechanics that allow or take away from the ability to enjoy the Romantic vistas, however, it is found that a certain type of dissonance arises, different from the ludonarrative dissonance that is usually discussed by academics. Although this is noted to happen between the ludic and narrative structures in games, with the MDA framework it is shown that dissonance can also take place between mechanics and dynamics, using the Romantic nature of these games and the available interactions with this as an example.