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.

Persistent Identifier