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Should I Skip This?: Cutscenes, Agency and Innovation

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Should I Skip This?: Cutscenes, Agency and Innovation

Browning, Ben (2016) Should I Skip This?: Cutscenes, Agency and Innovation. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The cutscene is a frequently overlooked and understudied device in video game scholarship, despite its prominence in a vast number of games. Most gaming literature and criticism concludes that cutscenes are predetermined narrative devices and nothing more. Interrogating this general critical dismissal of the cutscene, this thesis argues that it is a significant device that can be used to re-examine a number of important topics and debates in video game studies. Through an analysis of cutscenes deriving from the Metal Gear Solid (Konami, 1998) and Resident Evil (Capcom, 1996) franchises, I demonstrate the cutscene’s importance within (1) studies of video game agency and (2) video game promotion.
This thesis has two principal aims. The first is to argue that cutscenes complicate the player-centric models of agency that currently dominate the field. A close analysis of cutscenes from varying periods of its history encourages us to develop a more expansive method for understanding how agency operates in games, one that gives additional attention to the oscillation between the player and system. In this way, we move beyond the notion that cutscenes are simply predetermined and consider the precise means through which they are executed. This leads into the second aim of this thesis, which is to demonstrate how cutscenes implement “technoattentive aesthetics”, which is to say, aesthetic strategies that allow hardware manufacturers and software publishers to standardize innovation and propagate the notion that newer video game technologies (or consoles) are inherently superior to their predecessors. I argue that by supporting such ideas, cutscenes are key elements of the economy of perpetual innovation that the video game industry relies on.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Browning, Ben
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Film Studies
Date:April 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Steinberg, Marc
Keywords:cutscenes, video games
ID Code:980988
Deposited By: BEN BROWNING
Deposited On:02 Jun 2016 16:21
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:52
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