“I Am Shocked, Shocked!” Explorations of Taboos in Digital Gameplay


  • Elena Bertozzi University of Wisconsin, Whitewater


This paper examines some examples of what the media have described as outrageous, dangerous or otherwise troubling content in videogames. The author suggests that allowing players to engage in taboo behavior within games such as Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, and Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball actually reinforces pro-social cultural norms. All cultures establish norms and also provide occasional opportunities for transgression of these norms. The author argues that breaking the rules, and understanding that rules are being broken, is necessary to test and reinforce the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Games provide players with arenas within which such transgressions can take place safely. Current videogames, however, provide these transgressive opportunities primarily for white males.

Author Biography

Elena Bertozzi, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

Elena Bertozzi, Assistant Professor Multimedia Digital Arts & Communication






Reflection and Review