Secrets, Stealth, and Survival : The Silent Child in the Video Games Little Nightmares and INSIDE

Barnboken

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Field Value
 
Title Secrets, Stealth, and Survival : The Silent Child in the Video Games Little Nightmares and INSIDE
 
Creator Reay, Emma
 
Subject video games
digital texts
representation
new media
childhood studies
 
Description This article combines critical theory from children’s literature studies with research methods from games studies to explore the connection between silence and childhood in two digital texts. Little Nightmares (2017) and INSIDE (2016) are wordless video games that feature nameless, faceless children as their avatars. Weak and weaponless, the children must avoid detection and stay silent if they are to survive. By slinking and skulking, crouching and cowering, the children navigate their way through vast, brutal adult environments in order to reach safety – or so the player thinks. Both games, in fact, end in shocking, unexpected ways, prompting the disturbing realisation that silent children have secrets of their own. The games use scale, perspective, and sound to encourage close identification between the player and avatar, and position the silent, blank-faced child as a cipher onto which the player can project their own feelings of fear, dread, and vulnerability. The child-character’s quiet compliance with the player’s commands also situates the player as an anxious parent, orbiting, assisting, and protecting a dependent child as it moves through a dangerous world. For both subject positions, the child-character’s silence closes the distance between the player and avatar. However, when it is revealed that the child-characters have hidden, unknowable, and potentially sinister motivations, the meaning of their silence is wholly transformed. Using aetonormative theory (Nikolajeva; Beauvais; Gubar) in conjunction with studies of ideologies surrounding childhood (Jenks; Kincaid; Meyer; Balanzategui; Stockton; Lury), this article examines the extent to which these digital texts affirm or subvert cultural constructions of “the Child.” It employs a close reading approach proposed by games scholar Diane Carr to argue that the player-avatar relationships in these games shed new light on some of the fundamental contradictions that characterise adult normativity and child alterity, and concludes by suggesting some ways in which video games might productively expand and disrupt conceptions of aetonormative power relations.
 
Publisher Svenska Barnboksinstitutet
 
Date 2020-06-12
 
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article
info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion
 
Format application/pdf
application/epub+zip
text/xml
text/html
 
Identifier http://barnboken.net/index.php/clr/article/view/475
10.14811/clr.v43i0.475
 
Source Barnboken; Volume 43 (2020)
0347-772X
 
Language eng
 
Relation http://barnboken.net/index.php/clr/article/view/475/1557
http://barnboken.net/index.php/clr/article/view/475/1639
http://barnboken.net/index.php/clr/article/view/475/1641
http://barnboken.net/index.php/clr/article/view/475/1643
 
Rights Copyright (c) 2020 Barnboken – Journal of Children's Literature Research
 

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