Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Downward Spiral: Postmodern Consciousness as Buddhist Metaphysics in the Dark Souls Video Game Series
by Menuez, Paolo Xavier Machado, M.A., Portland State University, 2017, 153; 10637267
Abstract (Summary)

This paper is about locating the meaning of a series of games known as the Dark Souls series in relation to contemporary social conditions in Japan. I argue that the game should be thought of as an emblem of the current cultural zeitgeist, in a similar way one might identify something like Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums as an emblem of the counter cultural 60s. I argue that the Dark Souls series expresses in allegorical form an anxiety about living in a time where the meaning of our everyday actions and even society itself has become significantly destabilized. It does this through a fractured approach to story-telling, that is interspersed with Buddhist metaphysics and wrapped up in macabre, gothic aesthetic depicting the last gasping breath of a once great kingdom. This expression of contemporary social anxiety is connected to the discourse of postmodernity in Japan. Through looking at these games as a feedback loop between text, environment and ludic system, I connect the main conceptual motifs that structure the games as a whole with Osawa Masachi’s concept of the post-fictional era and Hiroki Azuma’s definition of the otaku.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Holt, Jon, Kominz, Laurence
Commitee: Watanabe, Suwako
School: Portland State University
Department: World Languages and Literatures
School Location: United States -- Oregon
Source: MAI 57/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Asian Studies, Literature
Keywords: Buddhism, Dark souls, Japan, Postmodernism, RPG, Video games
Publication Number: 10637267
ISBN: 978-0-355-76934-0
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