Where some JRPGs represent philosophical views, Final Fantasy IX tricks its player into actually doing philosophy without even realizing it.
Aaron Suduiko is the Founder and Chief Video Game Analyst of With a Terrible Fate. He specializes in the relationship between player and avatar, and the myriad ways in which that relationship centrally influences the stories of video games.
The heart of Suduiko's philosophy of video-game fiction is his theory of "the fictional player": according to this view, the player's role in a video game is not that of identification with the game's avatar; instead, the player plays a separate, more metaphysically foundational fictional role that makes possible events within a video game's story actual, similar to Leibniz's conception of god. Suduiko's application of this view in his analyses on With a Terrible Fate have led to novel interpretations of games such as Bloodborne, Dark Souls, Dishonored, NieR, Returnal, Xenoblade Chronicles, BioShock Infinite, Code Vein, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Ni No Kuni, and Silent Hill. The foundations of the fictional player theory may be found in the Journal of the Philosophy of Games: https://journals.uio.no/JPG/article/view/4799/5504
Suduiko graduated Harvard College in 2017 with high honors in his major, philosophy. Part of his degree included three independent studies on the storytelling of video games, advised by philosophy professors. In his senior year, he wrote an honors thesis on the ontology of video games as a storytelling object, earning high honors for the written work and highest honors for his oral defense of it.
Suduiko has shared his work on the philosophy of video-game storytelling at a variety of venues, including: Harvard’s philosophy department; PAX West, PAX East, PAX South, and PAX Aus; Harvard’s annual ARTS FIRST festival; the British Society of Aesthetics’ postgraduate conference; and SUNY Oneonta’s undergraduate philosophy conference. An article adapted from a chapter of his thesis on the ontology of video-game storytelling was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the Philosophy of Games. His work on the aesthetics of quantum mechanics in BioShock Infinite was published in Cornell’s undergraduate philosophy journal, Logos. He’s advised Harvard librarians about the literary value of video games and the need to make them available as library resources.
Suduiko started analyzing video games in his senior year of high school, when he compared and contrasted the role-playing dynamics of video games and stage plays. After he started his degree in philosophy in 2014 and heard about the 3D remake of Majora’s Mask, he created With a Terrible Fate as a personal blog analyzing the philosophical and artistic value of Majora’s Mask. Since then, he’s grown With a Terrible Fate into a publication of video game analysts striving to understand the stories of video games in new, rigorous, illuminating ways.
This week on the podcast: analysis and discussion of Bandai Namco's "brain punk" JRPG, Scarlet Nexus.
This week on With a Terrible Fate's podcast: a deep dive into the many ways in which video-game music can tell a story.
Join With a Terrible Fate for panels on horror storytelling and video game canons at PAX West 2021, September 3rd-5th.
Listen in on a discussion of how maps can interfere with—or improve—the storytelling of your favorite video games.
This week's podcast focuses on mindscapes in video-game fictions, follow-up on the psychoanalytic interpretation of Returnal, and romance in Final Fantasy X.
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This week on the podcast: what the Steam Deck could do for interactive storytelling; Netflix gaming rumors; Super Mario 64 at auction.
Enjoy a conversation with Max Gorynski about the latest in his Comprehensive Theory of EarthBound, plus meditations on Nintendo hardware, collectibles, and narrative metagames.