Machphrasis: towards a poetics of video games in contemporary literary culture

Abstract

This article develops Kawika Guillermo's ‘machphrasis’ (2016) as a theoretical contribution to discourse considering the deployment of video games in contemporary literary culture. After presenting machphrasis’ academic stakes, I propose that machphrasis can give explanations for some techniques and images endemic to late 20th/21st century writing with regards to video games represented in prose. By appending Guillermo's conceptual work with three additions, I work towards a reproducible poetics of the video game in prose writing. I will show that machphrasis may be used to understand video games in literature as proxies for anticipated technologies, as discursive tools for reckoning with new subjectivities indebted to play, and as the means for generating new ideological positions for those who play games but are excluded from the normative ‘gamer’ group. This contribution prepares current academic discourse for a future literary landscape increasingly beholden to machphrastic themes, ambitions, and language

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