Survival Themed Video Games and Cultural Constructs of Power


  • Samantha Reid
  • Steven Downing University of Ontario Institute of Technology


Studies of the relationship between games and culture have often considered the empowering effect of games on the player. Studies have related this empowerment to individual character growth as well as broader geopolitical action (e.g., the conquering of nations). Few studies, however, have considered the emergent and increasingly popular survival genre of video games. In the current inquiry, through an analysis of past and current examples of games in this genre, we explore how survival games disempower players and discuss the potential implications for this shift in terms of cultural attitudes toward the current state of the world, individual prospects, and optimism/pessimism about the future. The goal of this piece is to explore and converse with the existing state of the literature and exemplars from the survival genre, creating a typological framework for future empirical and theoretical development in the area of games, culture, and (dis)empowerment dynamics.