Publication Date

5-2011

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Jane Fife (Director), Dr. Elizabeth Weixel, Dr. Wes Berry

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Abstract

The growing popularity of game addiction discourse has necessitated study of how video game critics rhetorically construct addiction. In the following thesis, I analyze contemporary examples of texts that link game addiction to drug abuse. I use Robert Cover’s analysis of how game addiction stereotypes form in conjunction with Aristotle’s rhetorical principles to isolate the persuasive appeals used by authors to rhetorically construct game play as addictive. These addiction arguments, however, are rooted in a larger historical context, and I present examples of game guidebooks and comic books published in the late 1970s and early 1980s to illustrate their rhetorical responses to game addiction rhetoric. I found addiction arguments utilize fear appeals combined with ethos, pathos, and logos to persuade audiences to reject games as potentially dangerous and worthless virtual pursuits. The authors of early game texts use ethos, pathos, and logos to dismantle fear appeals and present video games as a new genre that can be mastered through skill and practice rather than a meaningless virtual experience. This research provides ground for further explorations of game addiction rhetoric, and implications for the continued study of video games.

Disciplines

Communication Technology and New Media | Other Film and Media Studies