Rhetorical Analysis of a Game: Assumptions and Biases

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Pick a game—you should check with Dr. Phill to make sure it will work, but it can be almost any game that has any sort of narrative or complex character work – and take it through this five-step process:

Step 1: Determine on the most base level what the game shows us of gender, race, class, religion, nationality. This isn’t a trick question; just look at what is there and describe/analyze it.

Step 2: Explore what other messages are there, just below the surface (for example are their trolls—actual fantasy trolls—in the game that speak like Jamaicans?). Trace to the biases that might exist at the core of the game’s design/development. In this case remember you are tracing biases, but you are doing theoretical work. You don’t need to prove the bias at this point.

Step 3: Determine what the game’s presumed audience is, what its actual audience is, and what impact it has on its audience based on any differences in those two groups.

Step 4: Think about the game from the perspective a group that is not part of the game’s narrative (a race, a gender, a social group). How does it look from the outside?

Step 5: Determine whether or not the differences explored in the first four steps lead to a toxic community or whether the game has a “healthy” community. Give examples.

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