Entfremdete Pixelhelden: Brechung von Immersion und Identifikation im Computerspiel

Translated title of the contribution: Alienated Pixel-Heroes: Rupture of Immersion and Identification in Computer Games

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Computer games have been a stronghold of affirmative portrayals of heroism for a long time. Especially the conventions of action games imply a larger-than-life, superhero-type of avatar. In recent years, however, even in AAA games a critical stance toward the concept of heroism and a humanizing view on avatars has emerged in examples such as No More Heroes (Grasshopper Manufacture, 2007) or the Tomb Raider-reboot (Crystal Dynamics, 2013). This paper analyzes a special case of this recent trend: action games which remain fully functional and entertaining on the level of game mechanics, yet use their presentation and narrative to alienate the player from her avatar. These games do not simply adapt post-heroic narratives from other media, but render post-heroic discourses experiential. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (IO Interactive, 2010), Max Payne 3 (Rockstar, 2012) and Spec Ops: The Line (Yager, 2012) are three AAA titles from recent years which use characters, audio-visual aesthetics and game design in order to counteract identification with the avatar. Especially in encounters with the Other, the player is forced into a reflection of her avatar, his ambivalent heroism and her own role as an accomplice to ethically ambiguous actions. As a result, these games appropriate the Brechtian Alienation Effect in a highly medium-specific manner, thus laying bare the action-genre’s traditionally insensitive and careless handling of heroism and Othering.
Translated title of the contributionAlienated Pixel-Heroes: Rupture of Immersion and Identification in Computer Games
Original languageGerman
Journalhelden. heroes. héros. E-Journal zu Kulturen des Heroischen
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)41-55
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2014


  • Alienation
  • Ethics
  • AAA
  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • Kane & Lynch
  • Max Payne 3
  • Avatar
  • Other


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