Playing Attention: The Hermeneutic Problems of Reading Ico Closely


  • Peter Douglas McDonald Simon Fraser University


This article argues that paying attention to the specifics of a videogame involves a difficult problem of interpreting the meaning of repeated acts. A hermeneutic framework is developed by examining the PlayStation 2 game Ico through Melanie Klein’s object-relations psychoanalysis. The author argues that the controller functions as a semi-autonomous unconscious space that mediates unconscious phantasy and emotions, and therefore represents a privileged space for analysis. The article demonstrates the difference between a traditional close reading and a ludic close-reading by applying the tools to Ico in order to show how the game develops from a paranoid to a depressive style of play.

Author Biography

Peter Douglas McDonald, Simon Fraser University

Peter McDonald is a Masters candidate in the department of English Literature at Simon Fraser University.






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