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Title: The suspension of disbelief in videogames
Authors: Brown, Douglas
Advisors: Krzywinska, T
Keywords: Videogames;Narrative;Suspension of disbelief;Fourth wall;Gameplay
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Brunel University School of Arts PhD Theses
Abstract: This thesis explores the ways in which suspension of disbelief works in digital games. Primarily concerned with how players relate imaginatively to the often major dissonance between gameplay and narrative in digital games, this thesis questions how the literate players of games reconcile these complex texts imaginatively. Proposing that Samuel Taylor Coleridge's concept of suspension of disbelief is a complicated process often cited rhetorically rather than given its theoretical due, this thesis aims to rehabilitate the term and turn it into a useful, sharpened tool for games studies. Digital games themselves are also seen to be an intense new realm of possibilities for the suspension of disbelief, and textual analysis of games which approach the fourth wall or the suspension of disbelief on their own terms helps to make this clear. Beginning by defining the differences of games compared to other media, the thesis goes on to define suspension of disbelief in both its historical and modern contexts and see how it fits with games, isolating three key problems with uniting the concept with the medium. The three chapters which follow looked in more depth at the problems of the skilled reader, fundamental activity and dissonance through investigations into games’ textual construction, the mindsets they engender in players and their reformulation of the fourth wall. The final section looks at the conclusions working together to achieve the dual aims of proposing a new model for game reading which centres around a willed disavowal of presence on the part of the gamer combined with the gamer's taking up of a role offered by the game-text, and rehabilitating both the term and the concept of suspension of disbelief.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University
Appears in Collections:Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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