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This study attempts to develop a new perspective on the genre of high fantasy, while at the same time exploring the extent to which there might be a specific affinity between high fantasy and the medium of the video game. By confronting common attributions made to the genre – such as the claim that it is politically reactionary and aesthetically dull – it develops a transmedial poetics of high fantasy that simultaneously allows for a political reassessment of the genre. High fantasy, Illger argues, aims to shape the feeling of a "longing for the very other," which always already encompasses a challenge to the historicity of a given community. The medium of the video game, in turn, makes it possible to experience this aesthetic feeling in a unique way, since it literally puts the unfolding of its fantastical worlds into the hands of the players. This is made tangible in poetological analyses of artistically outstanding games such as Dark Souls, Skyrim, or Hellblade. In this way, the study opens up new possibilities for the academic examination of video games, proposing a genuinely aesthetic way of thinking with the audiovisual images of individual games that has, until now, been lacking in game studies.
Daniel Illger, Freie Universtität Berlin.
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