Alienation and Enclosure : Landscape Theory for the First-Person Shooter

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (without host publication)peer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2018


TitleRGS-IBG Annual International
Conference 2018
LocationCardiff University
PlaceUnited Kingdom
Period28 - 31 August 2018


Landscape studies are a powerful heuristic for understanding relationships to the physical environment. Existing scholarship has made a compelling case for studying computer games as a paradigm form of landscape (Vella 2013) (Liboriussen 2008) (Martin 2011). However such studies are yet to develop a methodology that balances the emplaced experience of the player with the material context by which the player and the game relate to the world. At the 2008 Landscape Theory Seminar, the gap between phenomenology and material culture studies was identified as a key problem for landscape theory. (DeLue and Elkins 2008) To remedy this, my paper uses a phenomenological and a material study of Half-Life 2 and the Valve Source Engine to derive landscape theory. I identify alienation, predation, and the shuttering effect of the ego as the basis of subjectivity for the first person shooter game. (Casey 1997) (Punter 1994) (Galloway 2006) I link the alienation of the player to the alienation of the narrative protagonist, as two examples of the Promethean dystopia. (Winner 1977) Then use alienation and the Promethean dystopia to analyse the linear actionable landscape according to its origins in New World colonial literature. (Tilley 1994) (Fuller and Jenkins 1995) Finally, by examining the Valve Source engine itself, I contextualise alienation within the economic enclosures of the End User License agreement, and how this landscape should be understood in the context of software modification. (Kuchlich 2005) Through my case study of the Half-Life 2, I derive productive landscape theory from a computer game and demonstrate how computer games can function as a paradigm form of contemporary landscape.

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Citation Format(s)

Alienation and Enclosure: Landscape Theory for the First-Person Shooter. / Nelson, Peter.
2018. Paper presented at RGS-IBG Annual International
Conference 2018, Cardiff, United Kingdom.

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (without host publication)peer-review