University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

“Video Games and the Pornography of Death" with Amanda Phillips, Georgetown University

November 16, 2023

Event Registration:

Amanda Phillips (they/he/she) is Associate Professor of EnglishFilm and Media StudiesWomen’s and Gender Studies, and American Studies at Georgetown University. They are the author of Gamer Trouble: Feminist Confrontations in Digital Culture, as well as co-editor of the Queer/Trans/Digital book series with NYU Press. Amanda writes about sex, death, identity, and politics in video games, with a particular emphasis on centering the insights of queer women of color feminism in the study of technology. His interests more broadly are in issues of racial and gender justice in and around technoculture, popular media, and the digital humanities.

This talk explores the so-called "pornography of death" in video games. Once infamously called "murder simulators" by anti-obscenity activist Jack Thompson, the simulation and animation technologies of video games are indeed often used to depict elaborate, explicit, and exploitative fantasies about dying and killing. From exploding heads and blood fountains to flailing bodies and x-ray vision, the mechanics of death in video games are polymorphously perverse, and understanding the ways that digital technologies stimulate our curiosity of how bodies respond to violence or how individuals behave under threat is crucial in this moment of increased gun violence, racial injustice, and trans- and queerphobia.

Wilson 142
4:00-6:00 (EST). Reception to follow