Title of Abstract

Life is Strange 2: Dignity vs. Safety in Trump's America

Submitting Student(s)

Elijah Lyons

Session Title

Additional Projects

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Michael Lipscomb, Ph.D.; Adolphus Belk, Ph.D.; & Jo Koster, Ph.D.; Devon Ralston, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Political Science

Abstract

This paper examines how video games are unique in their ability to educate the player. By placing players in a familiar social context but in an identity they would not normally associate with, video games can present players with ethical and moral conundrums, induce critical thinking, and allow them to strategize and make choices in order to reach goals in political and moral contexts. Video games are one of the most immersive forms of media, placing the player as the principal actor and decision-maker, and can therefore draw out emotional and physical reactions that have the potential to influence and alter their ways of thinking. To demonstrate this potential, this paper critically examines the video game Life is Strange 2, which follows two first-generation Mexican-American brothers as they travel through the U.S. and attempt to cross the border into Mexico after their father is killed in a police shooting. On their journey, the brothers are subject to racism and violence at the hands of white America but also manage to discover humanity in the social outcasts and allies they encounter. I argue that the story functions as a sociopolitical criticism of the Trump era, without mentioning our former president’s name, that explores the dynamics of marginalized racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual identities in a society built upon power structures that perpetuate violence against them. Additionally, I explore the juxtaposition the game illustrates between preserving one's dignity and maintaining one’s safety and security, a theme that is familiar to oppressed groups living in American society. Finally, I examine the critical reception, and backlash, to Life is Strange 2 in a gaming industry that remains dominated by white cishet men who serve as both the content creators and consumers.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

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Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

Life is Strange 2: Dignity vs. Safety in Trump's America

This paper examines how video games are unique in their ability to educate the player. By placing players in a familiar social context but in an identity they would not normally associate with, video games can present players with ethical and moral conundrums, induce critical thinking, and allow them to strategize and make choices in order to reach goals in political and moral contexts. Video games are one of the most immersive forms of media, placing the player as the principal actor and decision-maker, and can therefore draw out emotional and physical reactions that have the potential to influence and alter their ways of thinking. To demonstrate this potential, this paper critically examines the video game Life is Strange 2, which follows two first-generation Mexican-American brothers as they travel through the U.S. and attempt to cross the border into Mexico after their father is killed in a police shooting. On their journey, the brothers are subject to racism and violence at the hands of white America but also manage to discover humanity in the social outcasts and allies they encounter. I argue that the story functions as a sociopolitical criticism of the Trump era, without mentioning our former president’s name, that explores the dynamics of marginalized racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual identities in a society built upon power structures that perpetuate violence against them. Additionally, I explore the juxtaposition the game illustrates between preserving one's dignity and maintaining one’s safety and security, a theme that is familiar to oppressed groups living in American society. Finally, I examine the critical reception, and backlash, to Life is Strange 2 in a gaming industry that remains dominated by white cishet men who serve as both the content creators and consumers.