Roll 2d6 to kill - Neoliberal design and its affect in traditional and digital role-playing games
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From dice-rolling to digital systems, almost every form of game mechanises 'risk' as part of its rulesets. Because a game can be won or lost, there has to be deciding factors present in its mechanical design that formulate and catalyse the win or lose conditions. In other words, to 'play' a game means to engage in its formulated conditions of risk and risk management. As this thesis explores, that sort of game design is fundamentally influenced by a neoliberal mindset. Players must individually prove themselves to rise through the systems, engaged in a constant felicity calculus and a meritocratic quantification of ability. Moreover, this risk, with the advent of the wargame, and later, the role-playing game, is fictionalised as violence. The main questions this thesis explores are: What are the roots of violence-as-player agency? How does this standardised agency draw from neoliberal ideas of risk, individualism, and meritocracy? How does the resulting affect contribute to a depoliticising effect of video games?