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Counter-Balkanism in The Witcher & Gwent: A Historical Reinvention Beyond the Balkan Paradigm


Counter-Balkanism in The Witcher & Gwent: A Historical Reinvention Beyond the Balkan Paradigm

Zanescu, Andrei (2018) Counter-Balkanism in The Witcher & Gwent: A Historical Reinvention Beyond the Balkan Paradigm. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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The rediscovery and classification of the Balkans has been the subject of literary fiction and philosophical writing since the late 18th century. Though the Balkan states, and their myriad cultural groups, had occupied that geographic locale since the 5th century BCE. The theoretical body of work produced by the global West and its perception of the Balkans then was, and is, mired in stereotypes drawn from sociopolitical events of the 18th century and beyond, rather than the complex history of those peoples. In fact, the reality of the Balkans and how those peoples conceived of themselves is diametrically opposed to the body of work produced by Western scholars and artists. That Western body of work is referred to as Balkanism, a term coined by Maria Todorova in Imagining the Balkans (1997). This concept is a local application and modulation of Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978). In this, the Western games industry has conformed to accepted standards of discussing the Balkans explained in Balkanism. What I argue is that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and its spin-off card game, Gwent, reimagine a Europe beyond Balkanism, which subverts, and critiques stereotypes attached to Balkan countries. I discuss the theoretical body of work focused on cultural theory and game studies to explore the intersection between these two fields. This theory is then applied to analyze Gwent as an introduction to the more complex world of the Witcher 3, and how both games read together posit a different conception of the Balkans.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Zanescu, Andrei
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Media Studies
Date:April 2018
Thesis Supervisor(s):Consalvo, Mia
Keywords:Game Studies, Global Flows, Balkanism, Orientalism, Witcher, Gwent, Procedural Rhetoric, Media Archaelogy
ID Code:983618
Deposited On:11 Jun 2018 01:39
Last Modified:11 Jun 2018 01:39


Videogames & Media Works
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, CD Projekt Red (2017; Warsaw: CD Projekt Red). Videogame.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CD Projekt Red (2015; Warsaw: CD Projekt Red). Videogame.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Killing Monsters Cinematic Trailer, CD Projekt Red (2013; Warsaw: CD Projekt Red). Short Video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0i88t0Kacs.

Theoretical & Literary Works
Adam Chapman, “Interacting with Digital Games as History,” in Digital Games as History: How Videogames Represent the Past and Offer Access to Historical Practice (New York: Routledge, 2016).
Arjun Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy,” Theory Culture & Society 7 (1990).
Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979).
Greg Buzwell, “Dracula: vampires, perversity and Victorian anxieties,” British Library, May 15, 2014, https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/dracula
Henry George Liddell & John Urry, A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 1940. Accessed at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2319347&redirect=true.
Henry Jenkins, “Narrative Spaces,” in Space Time Play (Boston: Birkhauser, 2007).
Ian Bogost, Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010).
Jussi Parikka, What is Media Archaeology (Cambridge: Policy Press, 2012).
Linda Nochlin, The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society (New York: Harper & Row, 1989).
Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
Mia Consalvo & Nathan Dutton, “Game analysis: Developing a methodological toolkit for the qualitative study of games,” Game Studies 6, issue 1 (2006), accessed July 5, 2017.
Nick Dyer-Witherford & Greig De Peuter, Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009).
Philip Schaff, Ante-Nicene Fathers: The apostolic fathers, Justin Martyr, Ireneaus, (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 1886).
Raymond Van Dam, Remembering Constantine at the Milvian Bridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 30.
Stefan Gunzel, “Eastern Europe, 2008: Maps and Geopolitics in Video Games,” in Space Time Play (Boston: Birkhauser, 2007).
Zoltán Hajdu, “Hungarian researches on the Southeastern-European space (the Balkans): continuity, interruption or permanent re-start,” in Southeast-Europe: State Borders, Cross-Border Relations, Spatial Structures, (Pécs: Centre for Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 2007.
Zoltán Hajdu, Iván Illés and Zoltán Raffay, “Introduction,” in Southeast-Europe: State Borders, Cross-Border Relations, Spatial Structures, (Pécs: Centre for Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 2007).
Andrzej Sapkowski, Time of Contempt (Warsaw: superNOWA, 1995).

Journalistic Works
Andy Chalk, “The Witcher series has now sold more than 25 million copies,” PC Gamer, March 30, 2017, https://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-series-has-now-sold-more-than-25-million-copies/.
Debbie Timmins, “The Witcher 3 Preview and Interview,” The Average Gamer, June 28, 2013, http://www.theaveragegamer.com/2013/06/28/the-witcher-3-preview-and-interview/.
Domagoj Valjak, “All copies of the classic ‘Nosferatu’ were ordered to be destroyed after Bram Stoker’s widow had sued the makers of the film for copyright infringement,” The Vintage News, April 5, 2017, https://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/04/05/all-copies-of-the-cult-classic-nosferatu-were-ordered-to-be-destroyed-after-bram-stokers-widow-had-sued-the-makers-of-the-film-for-copyright-infringement/
Owen Good, “Poland Gives President Obama The Witcher 2’s Collector’s Edition,” Kotaku, May 28, 2011, https://kotaku.com/5806531/poland-gives-president-obama-the-witcher-2s-collectors-edition.
Philip Bump, “All 274 gifts given to Barack Obama between 2009 and 2012, ranked,” The Washington Post, August 4, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/08/04/every-gift-given-to-barack-obama-between-2009-and-2012-ranked/?utm_term=.2dd88f2db8cc.
Rachel Weber, “Remember When Obama Said He Was Bad at ‘The Witcher’?,” Rolling Stone, January 20, 2017, https://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/news/remember-when-obama-said-he-was-bad-at-the-witcher-w462185.

Rafal Jaki & Damien Monnier, “Gwent-ception: Does a game within a game, make a better game?” (presentation, Pax East 2016, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston, MA, April 22-24, 2016). https://www.twitch.tv/videos/62397383.

Unauthored & Corporate Databases
“Ignotus Awards 2003,” Science Fiction Awards Database, accessed January 5, 2018. http://www.sfadb.com/Ignotus_Awards_2003.
“Historia Nagrody Fandomu Polskiego im. Janusza A. Zajdla,” JA Zajdel, accessed November 11, 2017. http://zajdel.fandom.art.pl/aktualnosci.html.
“The Witcher 2 received 50 awards,” CD Projekt Red, January 5, 2012, http://en.cdprojektred.com/news/the-witcher-2-received-50-awards/.
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