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Friday, June 9 • 10:20am - 10:30am
Situated Narratives: Using Visual Novel Games to resist hegemony

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How can visual novel games be used as a tool for intersectional storytelling that spotlight ways of negotiating and resisting oppressive systems? This project seeks to address that question by utilizing scholarship from critical game studies, queer studies, and critical race studies to inform the making of independently created visual novel games. Visual novel games, such as Dream Daddy (2017), passively talk about intersectional issues relating to Queerness, Race, and Gender but due to the game’s design and narrative standpoint falls into universalism which in turns produces harmful narratives. Validate (2022), another recent novel game, remedies many gaps found in Dream Daddy by explicitly having a point of view with its characters that is not afraid of being nuanced and situated in a particular context. Both games speak to what Miguel Sicart says about play in his book Play Matters where “...play is not just the ludic, harmless, encapsulated, and positive activity that philosophers have described. Like any other form of being, play can be dangerous; it can be hurting, damaging, antisocial, corrupting. Play is a manifestation of humanity, used for expressing and being in the world.” (Sicart 2). Dream Daddy (2017) sets a problematic precedent in representational storytelling by unsituating the social identities of its characters. We can compare this to Validate where its narrative names and contends with overlapping oppressive systems such as capitalism, racism, and homophobia within its play. Scholars and creative practitioners alike can turn towards visual novel games as sites of engaging with representation and resistance by sharing partial stories. With the example set by Validate, I seek to prototype and make a visual novel game of my own that engages with critical theory and praxis of daring to represent vulnerable and partial narratives that contribute to an intersectional archive of BIPOC lived experiences in media. This project aims to bring discussion towards the problems with universalism in storytelling and in game design that fails to represent Black and Brown stories. Instead, the project invites the sharing of critical narratives in the genre of visual novel games that re-center people through an accessible medium of play.


Luke Hernandez

Graduate Student, The University of Texas at Dallas

Friday June 9, 2023 10:20am - 10:30am EDT
PS 308 (Design Center)