Narrative video game aesthetics and egocentric ethics

A Deweyan perspective

  • Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen Department of English, Aarhus University
Keywords: video games, ethics, morality, simulation, John Dewey


This article argues that video gaming allows for player-focused (egocentric) moral experience that can be distinguished from the other-focused (allocentric) moral experience that characterizes literature and film. Specifically, a Deweyan perspective reveals that video games aff ord fi rst-personal rehearsals of moral scenarios that parallel how, in real life, individuals mentally rehearse the diff erent courses of moral action available to them. This functional equivalence is made possible because the aesthetics of video games bear unique affinities to the human moral imagination. However, whereas the moral imagination may be limited in terms of the complexity and vividness of its analog imaginings, the ethically notable video game may draw on the medium’s digital capacities in order to stage elaborate and emotionally compelling ethical rehearsals. The article concludes by applying this perspective to the ethically notable video game Undertale.


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How to Cite
Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, J. (2020). Narrative video game aesthetics and egocentric ethics. MedieKultur: Journal of Media and Communication Research, 36(68), 088-106.
Articles: Open section