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Theses and Dissertations

Narrativized Video Games: Playing Cultural Influences and Intentionalities Open Access


Other title
Symbolic Representation
Mass Effect trilogy
Game Narrative
Cultural Studies
Video Game as cultural product
Persuasive games
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Pedraça, Sâmia A
Supervisor and department
Engel, Maureen (English/Humanities Computing)
Examining committee member and department
Gouglas, Sean (History/Humanities Computing)
Rockwell, Geoffrey (Philosophy/Humanities Computing)
Humanities Computing

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
This thesis focuses on story-based games that address in-game complex social issues in order to map their narrative affordances and decode their intentionality. That is, my main goal is to identify the affordances and resources that construct and structure a game narrative, as well as to analyze the capability of games to present symbolic representations. Video games are demonstrating great potential for the dissemination of ideas, a potential that is as powerful as any other cultural product. Sophisticated game narratives provide highly interactive environments that make a difference in players’ experiences, since players must act within the fictional world. Through immersion and agency, players make their in-game choices; they act in favour of a side, an interest, a cause, or an ideology. Unlike other media that require only the viewers’ passive attention, a digital game is an interactive medium that demands a player’s constant awareness and input. Consequently, the impact of the game’s arguments on its audience can be enormous, perhaps even as powerful as the effect of the industry of cinema or television on society, both of which are considered by media theorists as playing a highly influential role in the process of shaping social behaviours and spreading western culture to the rest of the world. In this research, I will be examining a group of games that are known as the Mass Effect trilogy (BioWare, 2012). These games are acknowledged by critics and players for their capacity to offer a rich and intricate game narrative, full of complex cultural and social issues as well as symbolic representations and persuasive discourse.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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