Theory in a Digital Age: A Project of English 483 Students, Coastal Carolina University

The Kevin Spacey Effect: Video Games as an Art Form, the Virtual Uncanny, and the Simulacrum

The graphic presentation of video games is advancing at a rapid rate, in which it is becoming difficult to distinguish real world cinematic techniques versus digital manufacturing and coding. Film, as a medium, has molded itself into blockbuster video games, creating interactive stories that transcend the Hollywood standard. The annual Call of Duty franchise has released every year since 2005 and continues to push the boundaries of graphic fidelity. Known for including top-name Hollywood actors among the likes of Ron Perlman, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jeff Goldblum, to name a few, they only represented the voice behind the character. That is, until 2014’s entry, Advanced Warfare, where Kevin Spacey appeared as a literal, digital version of himself; the first of the series to include a convincing replica. Despite the millions of players that purchase the product every year, the game does have its fair share of criticism for its derivative gameplay, but there’s no denying the fact that gamers and non-gamers alike were astonished to see a video game character resemble a popular actor when the reveal trailer dropped on social media outlets and television. Judging from archived Twitter posts upon the release of the trailer, reactions were positive. (Co.Create) With the help of successful marketing and theories of the uncanny, the simulacrum, and the cartoon, from Sigmund Freud, Jean Baudrillard, and Scott McCloud, it becomes apparent as to how the reveal was so successful and puts into question where our video games will ascend to eventually blur the lines between the physical and virtual world.

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