• New Sincerity, the Weird, and the post-ironic turn in contemporary indie video games

    Simon Bowie (see profile)
    Culture--Study and teaching, Video games
    Item Type:
    Birkbeck, University of London
    David Lynch, indie games, irony, Mark Fisher, New Sincerity, Cultural studies, Film studies
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    This dissertation examines how contemporary indie video games use elements of the Weird as part of a post-ironic, New Sincerity aesthetic. By comparing three contemporary indie games against earlier cinema and television texts, I argue that over the past decade of the 2010s indie games boom video games emerged as an important medium in the post-ironic turn associated with New Sincerity. In the first chapter, I compare Braid (2008) with the original two seasons of Twin Peaks (1990–1991) to examine how both texts use ironic parody to draw the player / viewer in and then use the Weird to distort their parody and invert their ironic affect to produce sincerity-in-irony. In the second chapter, I compare The Beginner’s Guide (2015) and My Winnipeg (2007) to look at how the ironic distancing of metafiction and the complicating of authorship via narration combine to reveal sincerity amidst the irony of textual hyperreflexivity and to position sincerity as an escape from the metaphorical prison of cultural irony. Finally, in the third chapter, I compare Kentucky Route Zero (2013–2020) and Lost Highway (1997) to put the alienation of cultural irony into the context of late capitalism and to show that both texts use weird transformation of characters as a way to transform their ironic affect into sincerity. Through these readings, I show how the Weird’s breaking down of boundaries and crossing of thresholds enables New Sincerity’s breaking down of the boundaries between irony and sincerity and briefly look at the influence of these three games on subsequent indie video games developed over the past decade.
    Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the MA in Cultural and Critical Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London, September 2020.
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    3 years ago
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