Playing as The Monster: Towards a Typology of Monstrous Player-Characters in Computer Games

Nina Patricia Houe

Research output: Contribution to conference - NOT published in proceeding or journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


While it may be agreed per culturally agreed definitions that the game Rampage (1986) is about monsters, the case of agents torturing terrorists to get intelligence, protagonists murdering prostitutes to restore health, and hero assassins disposing of evil tyrants for the greater good may be less clear. For instance, what does playing a zombie in Left 4 Dead (2008) and playing murderer in Super Columbine Massacre RPG! (2005) have in common, and what separates them typologically? The objective of this paper is to explore the relationship between player characters and monstrous others from the perspectives of identity formation, othering and the transgressive nature of the player-character relationship. To this end, it presents a rough typology of monstrous player-characters using Sicart’s work on ethical gameplay (2009), the psychological origins of the generic hero-ogre narrative (Jobling 2001, Asma 2009), and theory on player-characters (Newman 2002, Smith 2007, Lankoski 2011, Henricks 2014). The paper argues that that a monstrous player-character can derive its monstrous traits not only from its own design and context, but also from the context, meaning traits and style, of the historical player, if his or her player style are monstrous according to the definitions of such.
Original languageEnglish
Publication dateApr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
EventGames Against Players - European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 14 Apr 201915 Apr 2019


ConferenceGames Against Players
LocationEuropean Humanities University
Internet address


  • Monstrous Player-Characters
  • Identity Formation
  • Othering
  • Ethical Gameplay
  • Transgressive Narratives


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