The Semiotic Construction of Evaluative Meaning in Videogames: Explicating the Portrayal of Values

PhD Thesis


Lowien, Nathan. 2022. The Semiotic Construction of Evaluative Meaning in Videogames: Explicating the Portrayal of Values. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/x4242
Title

The Semiotic Construction of Evaluative Meaning in Videogames: Explicating the Portrayal of Values

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorsLowien, Nathan
Supervisor
1. FirstProf Patrick Danaher
2. SecondDr Elizabeth Curtis
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages355
Year2022
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/x4242
Abstract

Videogames have evolved into a ubiquitous form of entertainment that requires player engagement. Popular press and research literature are scattered with concerns over the values represented in videogames that have traditionally been designed for male audiences such as action-adventure videogames like Batman Arkham Asylum (Rocksteady, 2016) and Watch Dogs (Ubisoft, 2014). Given the increasing importance of the study of multimodal texts in school education, as evidenced in the Australian Curriculum: English and both the Australian Curriculum the Arts: Media Arts and the Australian Curriculum Technology: Digital Technology, the concerns over the values represented in videogames and their use for learning in schools are potentially problematic for educators. Therefore, a multimodal critical discourse analysis approach to understanding how values are conveyed in videogames could offer educators insights into addressing the pedagogical use of action-adventure videogames. The thesis investigated how action-adventure videogames convey values by communicating evaluative meanings about game characters. The thesis drew on Systemic Functional Semiotic (SFS) theory and the conceptual semiotic tools of attitude, focalisation and ludic gameplay operations. A critical multimodal discourse analysis methodology was utilised to analyse the represented evaluative meanings and inferred values conveyed by the characters’ dialogue and accompanying images in the games. Findings revealed that the two selected videogames convey values of morality such as collaboration and friendship and social and political values such as justice, accountability and a commitment to the rule of law. The findings of the thesis offer theoretical, conceptual and methodological knowledge contributions resulting from SFS accounts of attitudinal meaning conveyed by language and image as action-adventure videogames. Empirical implications resulting from the study suggest the establishment of a critical interpretive play pedagogy, which could be used by teachers to develop a critical interpretive appreciation of how action-adventure videogames convey values to their students. The implementation of such a pedagogical approach would require further research.

Keywordsappraisal; values; linguistics; social semiotics; videogames
Contains Sensitive ContentDoes not contain sensitive content
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390104. English and literacy curriculum and pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL)
390307. Teacher education and professional development of educators
470401. Applied linguistics and educational linguistics
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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