Dom Ford

Dom Ford is a PhD fellow at the IT University of Copenhagen. His PhD project is on using myth as a framework for understanding how meaning is made in digital games and how that meaning interacts with and is situated in broader culture. As part of this project, he works on various topics in games including monsters, heroes, the construction of space and the presentation of history and the past. He also holds an MSc in Games from the IT University of Copenhagen and an MA in English Literary Studies from the University of Exeter.

Contact information:

The Haunting of Ancient Societies in the Mass Effect Trilogy and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

by Dom Ford


I examine the prevalent construction of the long-lost yet technologically more highly-advanced society in the Mass Effect trilogy and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. First, I situate this construction within its long history, which finds a common touchstone in the myth of Atlantis. Through the lens of Jacques Derrida's hauntology, I consider how this construction is used in these two popular and prevalent yet different examples to evoke nostalgia for their own fictional pasts. I analyse the ways in which the ghosts of these gameworlds haunt the player in the present, through modalities of threat, nostalgia, lost futures and destiny. These manifest on various levels of the game: the gameworlds' fictional pasts (often overlapping with what would popularly be called a game's "lore"); digital materiality; and the games' spatial environments and the traversal of them. The examples differ in how and why the player interfaces with the gameworlds' ghosts on each layer, opening up some of the potential strategies for this game-internal nostalgia and haunting, while not being exhaustive.

Keywords: Nostalgia; absence; presence; lost futures; hauntology; history; space; digital materiality; The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild; Mass Effect



At the beginning of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW) (Nintendo EPD, 2017), the ghost of King Rhoam, the last king of Hyrule, regales a prophecy to Link, the player-character, who has recently awoken from a 100-year cryogenic slumber: "The signs of a resurrection of Calamity Ganon are clear. And the power to oppose it lies dormant beneath the ground" (2017). This encounter frames the central actors and stakes of the game, establishing the context of the player-character's arrival into the gameworld, the incoming threat and the potential solution. It is a frame defined by spectres: Link, a quasi-ghost from a century ago, meets a ghost from a century ago, who tells him that another ghost will re-emerge soon and that that ghost can only be defeated with a dormant power. This is a gameworld foundationally concerned with its ghosts. Hyrule in ruins, Link is reawakened to finish a 100-year-old battle. And, the player discovers later, that battle was itself conducted using 10,000-year-old Sheikah technology, the dormant power to which King Rhoam's ghost referred. In previous games of the Legend of Zelda series, the Sheikah were a shadowy, enigmatic tribe, confined largely to a few mentions and some related items. But in BotW, they are brought to the fore.

The Mass Effect (ME) trilogy (BioWare, 2007, 2010, 2012a) is also deeply concerned with the ghosts of its fictional world. In the first game's introductory cinematic, it is explained that "in the year 2148, explorers on Mars discovered the remains of an ancient spacefaring civilization. In the decades that followed, these mysterious artifacts revealed startling new technologies, enabling travel to the furthest stars" (2007). The player, controlling Commander Shepard, is sent at the beginning of ME1 on an ostensibly mundane mission, led by Captain Anderson. The team is joined by Nihlus, a Spectre. The aptly-named Spectres are the galaxy's most elite taskforce, so the presence of such an operative is suspicious. Shortly into the prologue, Shepard is let in on the true mission:

Anderson: A research team on Eden Prime unearthed some kind of beacon during an excavation. It was Prothean.

Shepard: I thought the Protheans vanished 50,000 years ago.

Nihlus: Their legacy still remains. The mass relays, the Citadel, our ship drives -- it's all based on Prothean technology.

Anderson: This is big, Shepard. The last time humanity made a discovery like this, it jumped our technology forward two hundred years. (2007)

In the ME trilogy, humans are newcomers to the galactic community. The discovery Anderson mentions is a mass relay, a (supposedly) Prothean technology that allows for extremely fast travel to other mass relays; journeys that would otherwise take centuries even with faster-than-light engines. The Citadel, an enormous deep-space station which acts as the political centre of the galaxy, is also thought to be Prothean-built. No one knows how these were built, or what became of the Protheans. Galactic society is founded upon ancient technology built by a people whose disappearance is a total mystery.

This construction of the long-lost yet more highly-advanced civilisation goes back far. While Atlantis is now one of the most recognisable and ancient manifestations, it was intended by Plato to be more a fictional rival to an ancient Athens. Nonetheless, Plato's myth is of a long-lost, utopian civilisation. As Omid Tofighian puts it: "Inhabitants of Athens and Atlantis were originally akin to the gods and both civilizations enjoyed a utopian culture. The people of Atlantis degenerate because of their greater and more rapid degree of mixture with 'people of the soil' " (2016, p. 197). As such, the myth glorifies the advancement of the long-lost people of the past, but holds also a threatening, cautionary element: they are now gone. The mixing between peoples as Atlantis' "fatal flaw" also belies an essentialism tied to lineage, that to return to an Atlantean ideal requires a narrow and exclusionary definition of one's society. Atlantis has since influenced countless works of utopianism, futurism and speculative fiction, from Francis Bacon's New Atlantis (1626/2000) to the Isu capital in Assassin's Creed Odyssey's expansion (Ubisoft Québec, 2019).

I explore how these confrontations with the ghosts of the gameworlds in the ME trilogy and BotW shape the player's experience of those gameworlds. What role does spectrality play in these worlds? How is nostalgia evoked for a gameworld's own fictional past?

This Atlantean construction in games was not pioneered by BotW or ME. We can, for example, assume that ME1 being released in 2007 was influenced at least by the Halo series, which introduces the Forerunners in Combat Evolved (Bungie, 2001), and the Metroid series, which features the ancient Chozo particularly in Metroid Prime (Retro Studios & Nintendo, 2002). I chose ME and BotW not as progenitors or as exhaustive, but rather as rich examples through which some of the key points and interesting nuances of this construction can be discussed.

These two series are popular and well-known, while also representing some key differences. For example, the ME series is science fiction, while BotW is high fantasy. The plot of ME continues directly across all three games, while Legend of Zelda games, although sharing a fictional universe, tend to be self-contained, with games representing wholly different settings, time periods and characters (though many reoccur). BioWare is a Canadian developer, while Nintendo EPD is Japanese. These differences allow for the concepts to be explored in varying contexts, albeit not being comprehensive or representative of a larger sample. Because of the narrative differences mentioned, I treat the ME trilogy more as one coherent entity and exclude Andromeda (BioWare, 2017), while for The Legend of Zelda I focus primarily on BotW but bring in other titles in the series.


I consider the use of long-lost civilisations in these games through the lens of Jacques Derrida's concept of hauntology (1993/2006). Haunting represents an anachronism, something out of its time and place. "Repetition and first time: this is perhaps the question of the event as question of the ghost" (Derrida, 1993/2006, p. 10). The ghost is both present and absent. While clearly in some way here, the ghost is simultaneously of an earlier time: the irretrievable past acting on the present. Absence and presence are always linked, defined in relation to one another.

For Derrida, both the present and presence are constituted by the absent and absence. Drawing on Heidegger, Derrida argues that "[p]resence (Answesen) is enjoined (verfugt), ordered, distributed in the two directions of absence, at the articulation of what is no longer and what is not yet" (1993/2006, pp. 29-30). In Derrida's deconstruction, this can be seen clearly in the concept of the trace, the "play" of "presence-absence" (Derrida, 1967/1998, p. 71) that denies the separation of past, present and future within the sign of semiotics. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak stresses the importance of the trace in Derrida's work, summarising that the "structure of the sign is determined by the trace or track of that other which is forever absent" (1967/1998, p. xvii). In this way an absence can have a presence too. Rebecca Schneider notes that death, for example, "appears to result in the paradoxical production of both disappearance and remains" (2012, p. 72). When we encounter remains, or ruins, say, we experience as a form of presence the absence of the subject who must once have been there. It is on this notion of presence that I focus on in this paper. Most prominent work in game studies on presence considers it alongside the concept of "immersion" (Calleja, 2011; King & Krzywinska, 2006; Murray, 1997; Vella, 2015), focusing on the player-avatar relationship, and stems instead from Marvin Minsky's more spatial, distance-oriented telepresence (1980). These are useful perspectives, but take the term in a slightly different direction to how I treat it here.

Haunting is not limited to objects which we might expect to have some sort of ghostly effect -- such as remains and ruins -- rather, everything haunts. In the original French, hantologie (hauntology) and ontologie (ontology) are near-homophones, reflecting this fundamental haunting. Every sign contains within it traces of the absent other and so those signs "haunt" the present signs. Viewing the material world through this lens necessarily changes how we then perceive history and the past. As Peter Buse and Andrew Scott remark:

Ghosts are a problem for historicism precisely because they disrupt our sense of a linear teleology in which the consecutive movement of history passes untroubled through the generations […] ghosts do not just represent reminders of the past -- in their fictional representation they very often demand something of the future. (1999, p. 14)

The appearance of the ghost in hauntological thinking mean that past, present and future cannot be neatly compartmentalised. Each act on each other constantly, they are "always-already-there" (Derrida, 1967/1998, p. 66).

Lost Futures and Nostalgia

More recently, hauntological thinking has been used to analyse the popularity of "retro" trends in culture and pop culture (Fisher, 2014; Reynolds, 2011). Fisher draws on Derrida to talk about the time we have lived through since the 1970s as a period of "not giving up the ghost" (2014, p. 22). This type of haunting "can be construed as a failed mourning" (2014, p. 22), he claims. Although she does not herself explicitly link it with hauntology, this "failed mourning" is reminiscent of Svetlana Boym's description of "[m]odern nostalgia" as "a mourning for the impossibility of mythical return" (2001, p. 8). For Boym, this is "dependent on the modern conception of unrepeatable and irreversible time" (2001, p. 13). Our modern sense of nostalgia represents a casualty of the linearisation and quantification of time, which makes it more firmly irreversible and irrevocable in our conception, and therefore tragic. Nostalgia mourns the loss of this past, while hauntology remarks upon the loss and absence of the past simultaneously with its presence in the present.

Boym identifies two nostalgic tendencies, ways in which we make sense of our longing: restorative and reflective (2001, p. 41). She explains:

Restorative nostalgia puts emphasis on nostos and proposes to rebuild the lost home and patch up the memory gaps. Reflective nostalgia dwells in algia, in longing and loss, the imperfect process of remembrance. […] Restorative nostalgia manifests itself in total reconstructions of monuments of the past, while reflective nostalgia lingers on ruins, the patina of time and history, in the dreams of another place and another time. (2001, p. 41)

This distinction has been usefully applied to games. Maria B. Garda (2013) examines retrogaming, contrasting the restorative practices of, for example, emulation, preservation and porting (2013, p. 3), with more reflective practices of designing for "1980's-ness" (2013, p. 4) or "8-bitness" (2013, p. 6). Boym stresses that restorative and reflective nostalgia "are not absolute types, but rather tendencies" (2001, p. 41), and so follow Garda's categorisations of retrogaming, whose "nostalgia continuum" places "retro" in the space in between restorative and reflective nostalgia (2013, p. 11). Retro is rooted firmly in the past, but is "by definition modern - it requires a temporal distance from the past" (Garda, 2013, p. 10).

For Fisher, the nostalgic quality to haunting -- "not giving up the ghost" (2014, p. 22) -- leads to lost futures: looking to the past for a possible future, but a future than can no longer exist. "What has vanished is a tendency", says Fisher, "a virtual trajectory" (2014, p. 22). He draws on Fredric Jameson's nostalgia mode. On Jameson's example of Star Wars, Fisher writes:

There is no nostalgia for a historical period here […] the longing of which Jameson writes is a yearning for a form. Star Wars is a particularly resonant example of postmodern anachronism, because of the way it used technology to obfuscate its archaic form […] the nostalgia mode subordinated technology to the task of refurbishing the old. The effect was to describe the disappearance of the future as its opposite. (2014, p. 13)

In this vein, and also using Jean Baudrillard's work on simulacra, Kathleen McClancy examines the retrofutures of the Fallout series. She observes that the games "present a totalizing projection of the future as imagined by the past" (2018), offering a way to access the lost future of the Cold War. However, through the games' gameworlds, rules and narratives, she says, the Fallout series explores the post-9/11 Cold War nostalgia in real-world (particularly US) society and simultaneously "challenges those simulacra, undermining not only the nostalgia they support but the faith in technology they assume" (2018). Through the lens of nostalgia and lost futures, we can see here how games play with and potentially subvert real-world socio-cultural phenomena. Analysing the same series, Joseph A. November also explores the future-that-could-have-been to highlight "the still very real tension between American liberal, democratic ideals and Americans' aspirations to develop the technologies of their dreams" (2013, p. 309).

Hauntology has also been often employed in game studies to look at games as a medium. Christian McCrea writes how games have been "looking for ways to make sense of themselves through known media forms" (2009, p. 220) and how, particularly in horror games, the "formal structures of games are laid all the more bare when film, video, and other media come in to interrupt" (2009, p. 221). The use of photography, videotapes, databases, etc. in horror games is a haunting of the medium of games as a whole.

I am particularly interested in how nostalgia is used and evoked within a gameworld for its own diegetic history, rather than for our "real-world" history (such as Fallout's 1950s-ness). This is partially the subject of Justyna Janik's paper "Ghosts of the Present Past" (2019), which explores spectrality in both the "fictional world" of the game and "the [digital] materiality of the game object" (2019, p. 2). The two overlap considerably. Janik uses the ME series as an example, which allows players to carry over their save from the previous game. Decisions made in previous games haunt the current game on both the level of fiction and digital materiality (Janik, 2019, p. 10). When a player does not import a prior save, they are given a default Shepard and a default set of choices already-made: "these old stories and premade choices haunt her future in the game, as well as the future of the game object itself" (Janik, 2019, p. 10). Like Janik, my focus is on haunting of and within the game object. However, my investigation here focuses more specifically on the haunting of what we could call "Atlantean" societies, lost civilisations from a distant past, but whose technology greatly exceeds that of the present-day societies.

This paper often examines more literal spectres than the typical ghosts of hauntology. Hauntology is not primarily about actual apparitions: Derrida is keen to note that "[t]he spirit, the specter are not the same thing […] There is something disappeared, departed in the apparition itself as reapparition of the departed" (1993/2006, p. 5). What the spirit and the specter have in common is "this non-present present, this being-there of an absent or departed one" (1993/2006, p. 5). The literal ghost is the attempt to crystallise, perhaps stabilise or even finalise, the much more ethereal and shifting concept of the haunting spirit. In BotW and ME, the ancient technologies and civilisations, the (re)appearance of ghosts, extinct peoples and long-dormant entities are contextual clues of a hauntological mode of thinking that pervades the construction of these gameworlds. For both, the present is suffused with the presence of absence, the haunting of the past that is sometimes literal and crystallised, pointing to a broader spectrality.

In the following, I broadly follow Janik's layers, with one section focusing on the gameworlds' fictional pasts, and one focusing on their digital materialities -- interfaces, gameplay mechanics, systems and so on. Janik, drawing on Kristine Jørgensen (2013), also caveats that the two overlap significantly, particularly when we look at a game's spatial environment, which "is a space full of props that, in the process of play and interpretation, can become a fiction in the player's mind" (Janik, 2019, p. 9). Accordingly, I include a third section that explores how these hauntings affect the traversal and experience of game space. As such, my analysis covers what the player does, how the player is led to think about the fictional world and how the player traverses the gameworld.

The Fictional Past: Destiny and Cycles

The ME trilogy revolves around cycles. Late in the first game, the player discovers that the advanced technology including the Citadel and the mass relays were not of Prothean creation. A "synthetic" race called the Reapers created the mass relays and the Citadel as a way of ensuring that primitive lifeforms would eventually advance to a galaxy-faring level. But, believing that if left too long those lifeforms would create ever more devastating synthetic weaponry, the Reapers' solution is to "harvest" them, regularly resetting civilisation every 50,000 years. In the ME3 expansion Leviathan (BioWare, 2012c), it is revealed that the Reapers were the creation of an "organic" race called the Leviathans, who tell the player that they created an AI and tasked it with coming up with a solution to the aforementioned problem. The AI's solution was the Reapers and their harvest cycle.

The cycle in the ME trilogy and the gradual discovery of new facets and layers of it throughout the games situates the player in structures of threat and the weight of destiny. A synthetic-organic dichotomy underscores the series, from the Reapers versus the species of the galaxy to the geth, created by the quarians to serve them, but whose artificial intelligence led them to turn on their masters. As such, in ME, the cycle is imposed by the synthetic Reapers. Brian Massumi discusses how the future affects the present, observing that "the future of threat is forever" (2010, p. 53). Threat is "of" the future and yet impacts upon the present. For me, this reflects Derrida's observation that Hamlet begins with "anticipation" of the apparition, rather than its actual appearance (1993/2006, p. 2). This is how the cycle in ME works in the gameworld: for much of the series, the real panic is the threat, the anticipation of the Reapers' return.

Likewise, The Legend of Zelda series is defined by cycles and a notion of destiny, springing from the Triforce at the core of the series, a divine artefact made up of three pieces representing power, wisdom and courage. The wielder must have all three in balance, else the Triforce splits. Typically, each game's antagonist represents power, who fails to balance all three traits and splits the Triforce, remaining in possession only of the piece of power. It is up to the courageous hero (usually Link) to join with the holder of the piece of wisdom (usually Zelda) and defeat the holder of the piece of power (usually Ganon), restoring balance to the Triforce and keeping it out of evil hands. Sometimes this tripartite structure plays out literally, as in Ocarina of Time (Nintendo EAD, 1997), sometimes more metaphorically, as in BotW in which it is never directly mentioned.

It is important here to separate Link as the player-character from the human player. The various Links of the series encounter these cycles varyingly through the cyclical nature of the Triforce myth and the legends and prophecies. For the real player, there is the additional layer of their cycles of consumption: previous Zelda titles provide a framework for how players expect the story to progress, the roles to be played, and parameters for gameplay, which may also manifest nostalgically, though this is not my focus.

After speaking to the ghost of King Rhoam near the beginning of BotW, Link sets out to meet Impa, an old woman who heads Kakariko Village and is one of the last remaining Sheikah. The Sheikah were a highly-advanced, ancient tribe that is now almost extinct. The exceptions are the elders Impa and her sister Purah, Impa's granddaughter Paya and the mysterious, immobile ancient monks who inhabit the Sheikah Shrines. (The antagonistic Yiga Clan were also once Sheikah until they joined Calamity Ganon and formed a new tribe.) Impa sends the player on a quest to recover his memories and tells him of an ancient legend through a cutscene with an ancient parchment aesthetic. She begins by saying:

The history of the royal family of Hyrule is also the history of Calamity Ganon, a primal evil that has endured over the ages. This evil has been turned back time and time again by a warrior wielding the soul of a hero, and a princess who carries the blood of the Goddess.

With the passage of time, each conflict with Ganon faded into legend. So listen closely as I tell you of this 'legend' that occurred 10,000 years ago. (Nintendo EPD, 2017)

Through this legend and its framing, BotW becomes a gameworld beset with cycles, linking to the recurring myth of the Triforce throughout the series. Because of this, before the game has even begun the player who is aware of the eponymous legend knows already what they must -- will -- do.

Through its cyclical legend and through characters like Impa, BotW injects a strong sense of what Dean Lockwood and Tony Richards call a "future-already-scheduled," as contrasted with "a future un-certain" (2008, p. 184). This is a summary of a distinction Derrida makes between "a future that is predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable" and "a future, l'avenir (to come), […] whose arrival is totally unexpected" (Derrida in Kofman, 2005, p. 53). When we play a Legend of Zelda game, the central kernels are typically: Ganon returns, threatens Zelda, Link must defeat him. It is this notion of the cyclical legend, of what must be done that is evoked through this looking back to the past. The sense of what Link has to do to restore Hyrule is not a solution devised strategically in the present but is found in the guidance of ghosts.

In the standard ending for BotW, Zelda asks Link, "[d]o you really remember me?" (2017). However, the ending is extended if the player recovers all 18 memories: over a wide vista of a now corruption-free Hyrule, Zelda instead tells Link, "I believe in my heart, that if all of us work together… we can restore Hyrule to its former glory. Perhaps… even beyond" (2017). Both endings epitomise the game's nostalgic impetus. The former is bittersweet: the evil is defeated, but Link's memory has not (fully) recovered, leaving Zelda alone in her nostalgic mourning. The latter focuses on reclaiming a lost future: the ultimate victory is to begin to reclaim the future that was lost a century ago. Link's presence within the gameworld is therefore defined by this relationship to memory, nostalgia and Hyrule's lost future.

In the ME trilogy it is also through memory and the past that the solution is found. A crucial discovery in the first game is the Cipher, which works as the collective memories of the Protheans and is used to decode messages transferred directly to the mind of the individual at the Prothean beacons. The decoded message is a warning of the Reapers. Based on the research that sprung from that revelation, in the third game the Prothean plans for a superweapon called the Crucible are discovered. What we see in ME is that the way out of the fatal cycle is through collaboration with the past. The cycle is broken by those in one cycle communicating with those of a previous cycle to reclaim their stolen future. Samuel Zakowski describes this goal to escape the Reapers' cycle as a desire to "return to a linear temporality" (2014, p. 76), less haunted by cycles.

The history of these gameworlds then weigh heavily. First is the relentless cycle, the timespans of which far exceed Shepard's and Link's lifespan. Everything feels small in comparison, and so the scale of the task ahead is put into this unfathomable context. In contrast to BotW, in which the cycle always includes the eventual triumph over the great evil, the cycle in ME makes the threat feel inevitable -- no one has yet succeeded in breaking the cycle. As Jameson remarks, "the reconstructed history of the extinction poses the question -- 'is the same likely to happen to us?'" (2007, p. 102). Though in this case it is more certain than that: in reconstructing the history of the extinction (of the Protheans) we learn that it is already in motion and intended also for us.

This impulse contextualises the ME trilogy's focus on research on the Protheans -- particularly in the first game. Early on, the player encounters an asari researcher, Liara T'Soni, who has spent the past 50 years specialising in the Prothean extinction. The early mission to rescue T'Soni and add her to the player's crew denotes part of the game's nostalgic impulse. In the first game in particular, T'Soni is the lens through which the player sees the Protheans as a highly revered, enigmatic race: conquerors of the galaxy, masters of science. And, later in the trilogy, the Protheans are discovered to have nurtured primitive forms of humans and asari. This nostalgic reverence can particularly be seen in some of T'Soni's dialogue. She tells the player, excitedly, "[y]ou were marked by the beacon on Eden Prime; you were touched by working Prothean technology!" (BioWare, 2007). T'Soni is quick to delve into long diatribes on Prothean technology, symbolism and culture while the player simply wanders around, fulfilling the player's nostalgic desire to learn more about this long-lost, mysterious civilisation. In doing so, the player's interests become embedded in the gameworld's history, not only the present world. Zakowski describes this as a "'temporal thickness' -- the temporal extension of the world and the characters beyond the main story and into both the past and the present" (2014, p. 76). It ensures that the player too feels the haunting of the fictional world as a whole, not only confined to the immediate plot.

It is important to note here also that in both, the gameworlds' ghosts return in more corporeal ways, turning their haunting into something more pressing. In ME, the absence of the Protheans is filled, horrifyingly, by the re-emergence of the ancient Reapers primarily; though with the ME3 DLC From Ashes (BioWare, 2012b), the last remaining Prothean, Javik, joins the player's squad. As the last Prothean, he still signals the end of their civilisation, and his purpose is primarily revenge for his people's stolen future. In BotW, these ghosts return but either in ghostly forms or as the last, elderly Sheikah; a present reminder of a future absence. With them watching, Link attempts to reclaim their lost future on their behalf.

Digital Materiality: Power and Agency in the Gameworld

In BotW, much of the player-character's interaction with the gameworld relies on the Sheikah Slate (fig. 1), obtained near the beginning of the game. The Slate's visual likeness to both the Nintendo Switch and WiiU (the game's platforms) brings to the fore McCrea's analysis of games' remediation of their own technological history. McCrea highlights the hauntological assertation that it is rule rather than exception that "forms and beings are 'out of joint' with their time and place" (Derrida in McCrea, 2009, p. 223), and that haunting offers a way of understanding "the ability for figures to permeate across fictive boundaries" (McCrea, 2009, p. 223). The developers know this; when the Slate is acquired at the beginning of the game, its description ends: "You’ve never seen this device before, and yet…there’s something familiar about it" (2017). Then, in the almost recursive image of sitting with a Switch in one's hands, the first time the player, as Link, pulls out the Slate, there is an unusual switch to the first-person view as Link picks up his own Switch-like device (fig. 1). The Slate is made to feel particularly out of joint, conjuring the haunting of the Sheikah through the permeation of the out-of-game world.

Using the Slate, Link may enter Sheikah Shrines, unlock teleportation spots, maintain a digital map, manage his inventory and equipment, fill out a compendium and use Runes. Runes drastically expand the player-character's abilities and have a significant impact on how the game is played and the gameworld explored. Much of the game requires the use of particular Runes in order to progress a quest or access an area. Progression through the game's quests and the power of the player-character is therefore diegetically tied to the Sheikah. The ruined Hyrule looks to ancient technologies to purge Calamity Ganon. This is also significant because of what that ludic power entails in its approach to the gameworld.

Figure 1. Link in BotW pulling out the Sheikah Slate in a first-person view. Click image to enlarge.


Jaroslav Švelch has written on the methods by which monsters in games are "contained," and how monstrosity is treated by games more generally. In BotW, I argue that this containment is framed hauntologically. Švelch takes his conception of the monster in part from the influential work of Noël Carroll, for whom monsters "breach the norms of ontological propriety presumed by the positive human characters in the story" (1990, p. 16). The werewolf is an example, as it "embodies a categorical contradiction between man and animal" (Carroll, 1990, p. 46). Švelch contrasts the approach of scholars like Carroll, for which he borrows Stephen Asma's term "the sublime thesis," with "encyclopedic containment," concluding that "computer role-playing games tend to present monsters that conform to the latter" (2018, p. 10). Summarising these terms, Švelch explains that "while the 'sublime thesis' emphasizes the impossibility of the monster to become an object, 'encyclopedic containment' decidedly objectifies them, eliminating their unknown and sublime features" (2018, p. 4).

Encyclopedic containment works through the computational nature of game monsters. To exist in gamespace, monsters must have set dimensions, abilities, behaviours and so on, all of which can be known objectively. They exist to be learned and overcome. Švelch has elsewhere drawn on Alexander Galloway to describe this as the desire to bring the world under "informatic control" (Galloway in Švelch, 2013, p. 194). This encyclopedic containment is reflected in the bestiaries and compendiums that are commonplace in roleplaying and open-world games. In BotW, the Sheikah Slate can be used to take photographs of monsters, plants, people, objects and weapons, which are then added to the Slate's Hyrule Compendium (e.g., fig. 2). This is broader than a bestiary, as it includes more than only monsters and enemies of the player. But it still represents a form of containment of and power over the gameworld: it categorises the world and sorts it into what is useful for and dangerous to the player, what to take advantage of and what to watch out for.

Figure 2. Entry for a Lynel in the Hyrule Compendium in BotW. Click image to enlarge.


The compendium not only tells us what we do know and have collected, but also what we do not know. Blank spaces signify "undiscovered" entries (fig. 3) and, by the sorting of the compendium, one can usually guess what goes in that gap. In a row of Bokoblin entries, if one in the middle is blank, it is most likely another kind of Bokoblin. This creates a world in which everything can be and already has been catalogued. But it has only been catalogued by the Sheikah. This compendium is part of the Sheikah Slate, and many of the game's side quests are requests from people asking you to take a photograph of a particular monster, some of which are said not to exist in conventional wisdom. This positions the ancient Sheikah as the main force of containment of and control over the gameworld and its inhabitants. More than just providing a diegetic reason for the structures of containment that the game would have had regardless, the player must, in order to contain the world, learn more about and engage with the long-lost Sheikah. Link's knowledge of and abilities to contain Ganon's corruption and minions increases is tied to the history of Hyrule. Particularly so in the case of photography, which is out of joint both with the medium, linking with McCrea's analysis of "the specters of media" in games (2009, p. 223), and with the present-day gameworld, in which photography is a lost Sheikah technology. Purging the world of corruption is almost a direct result of Link engaging nostalgically with the past. Gaining power and agency within this world is a restorative, nostalgic process of understanding, cataloguing, photographing the past.

Figure 3. The Hyrule Compendium in BotW showing some filled and unfilled entries. Click image to enlarge.


In this respect, the ME trilogy is different. While many of the methods by which the Reapers are ultimately defeated in the story are based on a communication with the past and with the ghosts of the gameworld, what the player can actually do with the player-character, Shepard, is not presented through ancient technology in the same way as in BotW. The diegetic explanation for this is that the cycle of Reaper harvests leaves very little ancient technology behind aside from the mass relays. But it also feeds into the game's human exceptionalism (e.g., fig. 4). In the face of primordial threats and overwhelming technology, Shepard uses good old-fashioned human grit and ingenuity to muscle through. It is not coincidental that Shepard is a human, the least advanced of all the galactic races. This sense of human exceptionalism is underlined by the presence of more-advanced technology in the present, and of super-advanced technology from the ancient past.

Figure 4. Shepard displaying human exceptionalism when confronted by a hologram of the Reaper Harbinger at the end of Mass Effect 2: Arrival (BioWare, 2011). Click image to enlarge.


ME also features a compendium called the Codex that is filled out automatically as the player completes certain tasks. It is written from the perspective of the contemporary species of the galaxy, reflecting the current state of knowledge. For instance, the Codex entry on the Reapers reads:

A myth common to several cultures in the galaxy, Reapers were once imagined as space monsters that consumed entire stars. Archeologists who searched for the sources of such myths found little besides the themes of all-consuming devils that are common to primitive cultures.

Although accurate information about the Reapers remains scarce, the galaxy now knows that the Reapers are not a myth -- they are a real and devastating threat. (BioWare, 2007)

The Codex in ME is therefore more a quasi-paratextual lore book -- extra intrigue for the interested player -- than a tool for encyclopedic containment. What the Codex instead does is reinforce humanity's position as the "underdogs" of the galaxy. Shepard's appointment as the first human Spectre is highly controversial in the gameworld, with many still regarding humankind as undeserving of an equal position in Citadel Council political structures. Though the player does learn more about the Reapers, the geth and their other foes in the galaxy, the diminished means for encyclopedic containment and the lack of access to the powerful ancient technologies. While humanity must ultimately look to past cycles and Prothean spectres to progress, the power to act comes primarily from within as they prove themselves a worthy or even superlative force in the galaxy.

Traversal of Game Space

The exploration and travel networks in the ME trilogy and in BotW are both rooted in nostalgia and the past. For Giannachi, the relationship between presence and the environment is fundamental. "Presence," she notes, "is the medium through which the subject engages with an environment" (2012, p. 52):

[W]hile presence is about the continuous unfolding of the subject into what is other to it, environment defines the surroundings, that is, what remains other to it, that is however necessary for presence to occur. The environment, in this sense, hosts the archaeological traces left by the remains of what was excluded in the construction of presence. (2012, p. 52)

Presence and the environment are inextricably linked -- they create one another. This is apparent particularly in the fast-travel systems in these games, which I will come to, though in BotW the placeness of the "memory" events also merits attention.

Memories in BotW are unlocked through the Sheikah Slate (fig. 5). Early in the game, Impa advises the player to visit her sister, Purah, who restores some of the Sheikah Slate's functions including its camera, which already contains 12 photographs of various places in Hyrule. Purah remarks that Zelda used the camera frequently a hundred years ago. Impa suggests, "it could be that if you visit the locations within those pictures, you will be able to restore some of your lost memories" (2017). When the player locates a spot, marked by a light emanating from the ground, Link remembers, via cutscene, a scene from a hundred years ago at that location.

Figure 5. The "Memories" tab on the Adventure Log in BotW displaying recovered and unrecovered memories. Click image to enlarge.


After the first memory has been recovered, Impa rewards the player with the Champion's Tunic, but there are no rewards for subsequent memories. Instead, seeking out the sites of these memories becomes a purely nostalgic traversal of space. The memories charge the gameworld with a sense of spatial nostalgia -- Link has memories everywhere. And engaging in this nostalgic pilgrimage imbues the land with the haunting presence-absence of the past. This is where Link was named Zelda's champion. This is where Link watched Zelda argue with her father. This is where Zelda failed to channel the power of the goddess. And crucially, these memories are unlocked via photography, allowing the player to see via "[g]aming's hauntology […] what remains to be seen" (McCrea, 2009, p. 224) in the otherwise uninhabited space, while simultaneously being doubly of the past within the gameworld: first as a repository for century-old memories, second as an ancient Sheikah technology. When the player is then wrenched from these memories when the cutscene ends, they are reminded of those absences. There is no one there but Link. Hyrule presently is a rather desolate place, filled mostly with ruins; the absence of the former Hyrule has a powerful presence.

As discussed, these memories determine which of two endings the player is shown. The ending shown with fewer than 18 memories focuses on the nostalgic mourning of Link's lost memory and Zelda's fate to suffer alone. The ending shown if all memories have been recovered, however, focuses on Hyrule the land. The final shot is not of Link or Zelda, but of a verdant Hyrule, blossoming and cleaned of Ganon's corruption. It is a space cleansed of evil, but still one that is empty. The absence of Hyrule still resonates, its ruins still dot the landscape. The hopeful note is one of reclaiming the land for Hyrule's lost future.

BotW brings Giannachi's sense of environmental presence to the fore in its memory scenes. The player, through Link, not only acts in the world, but in are a part of the fabric of the world and its history. This is why Derrida's pun on "hauntology" and "ontology" is so pertinent, because to be is to be haunted. This co-creation of environment and subject is a cycle of the past folding in on the present. The past folding in on the present is also seen in BotW's fast-travel system. Sheikah Towers and Shrines are dotted throughout the map: once scaled, the towers unlock the local area of the map and are added as nodes in a fast-travel network; shrines are also added to this network once reached, and also host small dungeons with monsters, short puzzles, treasure and immobile Sheikah Monks, who reward Link with a Spirit Orb that can be offered to a statue of the goddess Hylia for increased health or stamina.

In ME, the fast-travel system works via the mass relays. The player can approach a hologram of the galaxy on the bridge of their ship and open a map, which can be zoomed in or out to show a planetary, star system and galaxy level. At the planetary level, the player selects whether to scan the planet or land on it. At the star system level, the player selects which planet to travel to, and at the galaxy level the player selects the star system to travel to (fig. 6). In ME2, this is largely the same, but the player must also manage resources such as fuel to move around star systems and probes to search for planets in them. In ME3 Reapers control some star systems and must be avoided while flying around at the star system level. These mass relays are initially thought to be creations of the Protheans. It is not known how they work, yet galactic civilisation is built around them nonetheless. At the end of the first game, however, it is discovered that the mass relays and the Citadel itself are a trap. The ancient Reapers, in creating a fast-travel system that experientially controls how apex species will interact with their space, can reliably predict how each society will look and act, making a plan to consume them much easier.

Figure 6. The galaxy-level map in ME showing destinations the player can fast-travel to and the route they take. Click image to enlarge.


The fast-travel systems of both the ME series and BotW are framed by interfacing with the long-lost, ancient civilisations of their respective gameworlds. Both work through nostalgia and familiarity, but to different effects.

Daniel Vella introduces Edward S. Casey's distinction between hestial and hermetic dwelling to digital games: "Hestial dwelling refers to the centered, inward-gathering dwelling of the domestic sphere, focused upon the image of the home […] while hermetic dwelling accounts for the outward-looking, decentered mode of spatial being defined by movement and wandering" (2019, p. 142). These are not fundamentally opposed, he clarifies, as "the hardships of the wilderness are sharpened by the memory of the home that has been left behind, and mitigated by the hope of either returning or of settling down in a new home at the journey's end" (2019, p. 144). Vella invokes examples such as the Normandy in ME1, which functions as a central quest hub. Drawing on A. C. Spearing's observation of Arthurian romance narratives that "only through transgression, only in encountering the wilderness, can civilized values be defined and their limits understood" (1994, p. 139), I have argued previously that fast-travel systems work to expand the frontier boundary of the gameworld through this rhythm of leaving the hub, venturing into the wilderness, and returning with greater power and knowledge (Ford, 2019, p. 10).

The fast-travel systems in ME and BotW push back the wilderness. In doing so, they increase the player's power over it; Rainforest Scully-Blaker has applied Paul Virilio's notions of speed, violence and power (Virilio, 1977/2006) to the practice of speedrunning games, arguing that to become a more "efficient navigator" of digital space is to increase one's power over it (2014). But fast-travel systems also alter the player's experiential relationship to the wilderness and gamespace. William H. Huber makes the observation of the level design of Final Fantasy X (Square Product Development Division 1, 2001) that its "spatial representations are on a local, urban scale […] there are interconnected zones of passage, resembling the Situationist topographies of Paris as a system of nodes" (2017, p. 379). I would argue that something similar happens experientially with fast-travel systems. Even though the gameworld of BotW is continuous and fully open, the prevalence of fast-travel nodes (154 in total) mean that after not too long, it is not traversed continuously but rather as interconnected zones. I teleport here and travel to a new shrine to complete its challenges, then teleport to another zone for my next goal. And with each subsequent goal, unlocking new fast-travel nodes means that traversal of the gameworld becomes more and more fragmented. This makes for a gameworld that feels increasingly less like a vast wilderness, and more like somewhere familiar. Following Vella, the player heightens over time a sense of hermetic dwelling.

That it is Sheikah towers and shrines that serve as the fast-travel nodes that facilitate this hermetic dwelling in BotW is no coincidence. To dwell in the world and become familiar with it, as well as to increase one's power over it entails an ever-deeper engagement with the gameworld's ancient past. In ME, this same paradigm -- increased familiarity within the gameworld and expanding one's frontier boundaries -- becomes tinged with dread as the ghosts of the gameworld's past haunt the present more literally, using the mass relays as a trap for an ongoing plan. Indeed, in ME3 the galaxy-level map features a level of "Reaper alertness," whereby more activity in a sector runs the risk of attracting Reapers who at a certain alertness begin chasing the player's ship on the map. These systems underscore both the dangers of an over-familiarity -- perhaps complacency -- with the world, but also the dangers of not being aware of the past. If the galactic community only knew the past better, they would have seen that the ghosts were not consigned to the past.


Both BotW and the ME trilogy are gameworlds defined by the haunting of their pasts. Progress through the games relies on an engagement with apparitions, remnants of extinct peoples and ancient technology. These are the literal manifestations that crystallise a more general hauntological mood in these games, whereby the games' presents are largely defined by what is absent, and such absence has a presence. The presence of these ghosts is felt on all levels of the games: their narratives and the fictional worlds and lore beyond the events of the games; their digital materiality, in terms of how the player interfaces with the gameworld and how they develop, expand and enact their power over it; and spatially, in how the gamespaces are constructed and how they are traversed.

There is a cyclical destiny in both. In ME, the Reaper's cycle; in BotW, the recurring trio of the hero, the princess and the great evil. In both cases, it is clear from the beginning that the solution is to be found in the past, in the highly-advanced, long-lost civilisations of the Sheikah and the Protheans. But the power of the technology is haunted by the absence of its creators. The player is continually reminded that, despite all this technology, these ancient people lost their battle or went extinct.

In BotW, the Sheikah provide the main sources of the player increasing their power and the number of different ways they can interact with and contain the gameworld. In ME, the lack of the hyper-advanced technologies of the past foregrounds the overwhelming nature of their primordial threat as well as a sense of human exceptionalism.

Space and how it is traversed in a gameworld is central to the player's experience of it. In both BotW and ME, their fast-travel systems which contain, condense and mediate the player's experience of space are framed through their ancient civilisations, underscoring the player's reliance on them.

One key difference between them is in the relationship between the games' ghosts and the lost futures the characters hope to reclaim. In ME, ghosts are primarily a threatening, suffocating presence. It is through uncovering their galaxy's history that they discover the fatal loop, locked to 50,000 years of possible future by the Leviathans. In ME, the player seeks to be rid of the galaxy's ghosts in order to escape the cycle and pursue the potential futures stolen from them. BotW is more nostalgic about its ghosts. Calamity Ganon is of the past, and we as players know from the rest of the series that Ganon is an ancient threat who always remerges. But BotW asks the player to engage with its gameworld's ghosts for much more than just information, as is more the case in ME which instead exhorts a human exceptionalism. Many of the player's most crucial ways of interfacing with the world are Sheikah: the Slate, towers, shrines, the Divine Beasts themselves. And through the Memories, the landscape becomes nostalgically charged with the absence of the Hyrule that used to stand; unveiled via the haunting medium of photography, out of joint with both the medium of games and with the gameworld-present. In BotW, the quest is to reclaim Hyrule's lost future. The Hyrule that Link and Zelda want to build is not a new Hyrule, but an old one. It is the advanced, peaceful, noble Hyrule spoken of in the legend told by Impa. It is the desire for the future of a past that now only exists in legend.

In her paper, Janik concludes:

The past of the fictional game world and the game object are intertwined and influence each other. […] [N]either can fiction appear outside the materiality of the game, nor can the materiality of the game escape from the fiction that emerges from it. (2019, p. 20)

This is borne out in my analysis too, as we see that the ghosts of long-lost civilisations in these games command a presence in the games' presents, deeply impacting the narrative and the events of the game, but also framing and impacting upon the ways the player interacts with the gameworld and how they traverse its space. In combination, these show that these games are defined by a fundamental haunting and a pervasive nostalgia. Unlike Fallout's 1950s-ness though, for example, these hauntings and nostalgias are to an extent gameworld-internal. The past evoked is the gameworld's own, not ours as human players. This internality is not closed, of course. The example of the Sheikah camera, for example, demonstrates a haunting from other media, and the structure of long-lost, highly-advanced ancient civilisations in itself owes much to real-world myths of Atlantis. The interweaving of the ghost as a factor in the games' fictions and as core to space and digital materiality makes absence permeate the game object. There is something missing from the world, which must either be reclaimed, as with Hyrule, or filled with a new paradigm, as with the ending of ME3.



I would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their detailed and insightful comments. Working with their suggestions has improved and clarified the piece enormously. This piece has been in the works for a number of years now in different forms, so I would also like to thank the many people who have talked through the ideas with me at various stages, including Espen Aarseth, Hans-Joachim Backe, and the organisers, reviewers and participants of DiGRA Nordic 2018 in Bergen, where I gave a very early version of this as a presentation.



Bacon, F. (2000). The new Atlantis. Project Gutenberg. (Original work published 1626)

BioWare. (2007). Mass effect [Xbox 360]. Digital game directed by Casey Hudson, published by Microsoft Game Studios.

BioWare. (2010). Mass effect 2 [Microsoft Windows]. Digital game directed by Casey Hudson, published by Electronic Arts.

BioWare. (2011). Mass effect 2: Arrival [Microsoft Windows]. Digital game add-on directed by Casey Hudson, published by Electronic Arts.

BioWare. (2012a). Mass effect 3 [Microsoft Windows]. Digital game directed by Casey Hudson, published by Electronic Arts.

BioWare. (2012b). Mass effect 3: From ashes [Microsoft Windows]. Digital game add-on directed by Casey Hudson, published by Electronic Arts.

BioWare. (2012c). Mass effect 3: Leviathan [Microsoft Windows]. Digital game add-on directed by Casey Hudson, published by Electronic Arts.

BioWare. (2017). Mass effect: Andromeda [Microsoft Windows]. Digital game directed by Mac Walters, published by Electronic Arts.

Boym, S. (2001). The future of nostalgia. Basic Books.

Bungie. (2001). Halo: Combat evolved [Xbox]. Digital game directed by Jason Jones, published by Microsoft Game Studios.

Buse, P., & Scott, A. (1999). Introduction: A future for haunting. In Ghosts: Deconstruction, psychoanalysis, history (pp. 1-20). Palgrave Macmillan.

Calleja, G. (2011). In-game: From immersion to incorporation. The MIT Press.

Carroll, N. (1990). The philosophy of horror, or, paradoxes of the heart. Routledge.

Derrida, J. (1998). Of grammatology (G. C. Spivak, Trans.). Johns Hopkins University Press. (Original work published 1967)

Derrida, J. (2006). Specters of Marx: The state of the debt, the work of mourning and the New International (P. Kamuf, Trans.). Routledge. (Original work published 1993)

Fisher, M. (2014). Ghosts of my life: Writings on depression, hauntology and lost futures. Zero books.

Ford, D. (2019). Beyond the wall: The boundaries of the neomedieval town in singleplayer roleplaying games. Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix. 2019 DiGRA International Conference, Kyoto, Japan.

Garda, M. B. (2013). Nostalgia in retro game design. Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies. 2013 DiGRA International Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Giannachi, G. (2012). Environmental presence. In G. Giannachi, N. Kaye, & M. Shanks (Eds.), Archaeologies of presence: Art, performance and the persistence of being (pp. 50-63). Routledge.

Huber, W. H. (2017). Epic spatialities: The production of space in Final Fantasy games. In P. Harrigan & N. Wardrip-Fruin (Eds.), Third person: Authoring and exploring vast narratives (pp. 373-384). MIT Press.

Jameson, F. (2007). Archaeologies of the future: The desire called utopia and other science fictions. Verso.

Janik, J. (2019). Ghosts of the present past: Spectrality in the video game object. Journal of the Philosophy of Games, 2(1).

Jørgensen, K. (2013). Gameworld interfaces. MIT Press.

King, G., & Krzywinska, T. (2006). Tomb raiders and space invaders: Videogame forms and contexts. I. B. Tauris.

Kofman, G. (2005). DERRIDA - Screenplay. In K. Dick & A. Ziering Kofman (Eds.), Derrida: Screenplay and essays on the film (pp. 51-109). Routledge.

Lockwood, D., & Richards, T. (2008). Presence-play: The hauntology of the computer game. In A. Jahn-Sudmann & R. Stockmann (Eds.), Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon (pp. 175-185). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Massumi, B. (2010). The future birth of the affective fact. In M. Gregg & G. J. Seigworth (Eds.), The affect theory reader (pp. 52-70). Duke University Press.

McClancy, K. (2018). The wasteland of the real: Nostalgia and simulacra in Fallout. Game Studies, 18(2).

McCrea, C. (2009). Gaming’s hauntology: Dead media in Dead Rising, Siren and Michigan: Report from Hell. In B. Perron (Ed.), Horror video games: Essays on the fusion of fear and play (pp. 220-237). McFarland & Co.

Minsky, M. (1980). Telepresence. Omni Magazine.

Murray, J. (1997). Hamlet on the Holodeck: The future of narrative in cyberspace. The Free Press.

Nintendo EAD. (1997). The legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time [Nintendo 64]. Digital game directed by Toru Osawa, Yoichi Yamada, Eiji Aonuma, Yoshiaki Koizumi, and Yoshio Iwawaki, published by Nintendo.

Nintendo EPD. (2017). The legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild [Nintendo Switch]. Digital game directed by Hidemaro Fujibayashi, published by Nintendo.

November, J. A. (2013). Fallout and yesterday's impossible tomorrow. In M. W. Kapell & A. B. R. Elliott (Eds.), Playing with the past: Digital games and the simulation of history (pp. 297-312). Bloomsbury Academic.

Retro Studios & Nintendo. (2002). Metroid Prime [GameCube]. Digital game directed by Mark Pacini, published by Nintendo.

Reynolds, S. (2011). Retromania: Pop culture's addiction to its own past. Faber & Faber.

Schneider, R. (2012). Performance remains again. In G. Giannachi, N. Kaye, & M. Shanks (Eds.), Archaeologies of presence: Art, performance and the persistence of being (pp. 64-81). Routledge.

Scully-Blaker, R. (2014). A practiced practice: Speedrunning through space with de Certeau and Virilio. Game Studies, 14(1).

Spearing, A. C. (1994). Public and private spaces in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Arthuriana, 4(2), 138-145.

Spivak, G. C. (1998). Translator’s preface. In J. Derrida, Of grammatology (pp. ix-lxxxvii). Johns Hopkins University Press. (Original work published 1967)

Square Product Development Division 1. (2001). Final fantasy X [PlayStation 2]. Digital game directed by Yoshinori Kitase, published by Sony Computer Entertainment.

Švelch, J. (2013). Monsters by the numbers: Controlling monstrosity in video games. In M. Levina & D.-M. T. Bui (Eds.), Monster culture in the 21st century: A reader (pp. 193-208). Bloomsbury Academic.

Švelch, J. (2018, August 13). Encoding monsters: 'Ontology of the enemy' and containment of the unknown in role-playing games. Philosophy of Computer Games Conference 2018. 12th International Conference on the Philosophy of Computer Games, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Tofighian, O. (2016). Myth and philosophy in Platonic dialogues. Palgrave Macmillan.

Ubisoft Québec. (2019). Assassin's creed odyssey: The fate of Atlantis [Microsoft Windows]. Digital game add-on directed by Jonathan Dumont and Scott Phillips, published by Ubisoft.

Vella, D. (2015). The ludic subject and the ludic self: Analyzing the ‘I-in-the-gameworld’ [Doctoral dissertation, IT University of Copenhagen].

Vella, D. (2019). There's no place like home: Dwelling and being at home in digital games. In E. Aarseth & S. Günzel (Eds.), Ludotopia: Spaces, places and territories in computer games (pp. 141-165). transcript Verlag.

Virilio, P. (2006). Speed and politics: An essay on dromology (M. Polizzotti, Trans.). Semiotext(e). (Original work published 1977)

Zakowski, S. (2014). Time and temporality in the Mass Effect series: A narratological approach. Games and Culture, 9(1), 58-79.

©2001 - 2021 Game Studies Copyright for articles published in this journal is retained by the journal, except for the right to republish in printed paper publications, which belongs to the authors, but with first publication rights granted to the journal. By virtue of their appearance in this open access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings.