First Advisor

Jon Holt

Date of Publication

Fall 12-28-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in World Languages and Literatures


World Languages and Literatures




Video games -- Social aspects, Japan -- Social conditions



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 146 pages)


This paper is about locating the meaning of a series of games known as the Dark Souls series in relation to contemporary social conditions in Japan. I argue that the game should be thought of as an emblem of the current cultural zeitgeist, in a similar way one might identify something like Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums as an emblem of the counter cultural 60s. I argue that the Dark Souls series expresses in allegorical form an anxiety about living in a time where the meaning of our everyday actions and even society itself has become significantly destabilized. It does this through a fractured approach to story-telling, that is interspersed with Buddhist metaphysics and wrapped up in macabre, gothic aesthetic depicting the last gasping breath of a once great kingdom. This expression of contemporary social anxiety is connected to the discourse of postmodernity in Japan. Through looking at these games as a feedback loop between text, environment and ludic system, I connect the main conceptual motifs that structure the games as a whole with Osawa Masachi's concept of the post-fictional era and Hiroki Azuma's definition of the otaku.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier