Caring for your child companion
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This thesis draws on theories of ethics, game and childhood studies to study relationships of care within the video game The Last of Us (Naughty Dog, 2013). First, the philosophical ethics of care framework is discussed and the approach of Murphy and Zagal is expanded to apply to a broader range of games. A textual analysis is performed to focus on child companion Ellie and the care values constructed by TLoU. By drawing on research from game studies the social role of companion characters in ethical gameplay experiences is discussed. Next, research from childhood is used to explore the social status of children in European and North American societies. I conclude that the child character Ellie fits the dominant childhood discourses of both innocence and at-risk in the violent world of TLoU. The relationship between player-character Joel and Ellie also fits traditional and passive ideas of childcare, but her character’s abilities and care practices challenge this adult-child binary later in the game. And Ellie performs a dual role of providing diegetic conversations and ludic service within gameplay. In addition, care practices are not prioritised by social groups in the post-apocalyptic world of the game, especially for children.These findings contribute to the intersection of ethics and game studies, but also feminist and childhood studies by highlighting the care practices between adults and children in games.