Morality in Let’s Play narrations: Moral evaluations of Gothic monsters in gameplay videos of Fallout 3

Performative Let’s Play gaming videos are a part of contemporary Internet culture through which morality becomes shared. Many digital games draw on Gothic traditions to feature human-like monsters who demand morally complex interpretations from players. This study examines what kinds of moral evaluations players form of ambiguous Gothic monsters in Let’s Play videos of the action role-playing game Fallout 3. With a discourse analysis of transcribed speech obtained from 20 Let’s Play series on YouTube, it argues that the moral evaluations that players actively produce impact significantly on the play experience, that players take diverse moral stances whose (in)determinacy varies based on what players assume of their audience, and that players are morally autonomous by not hesitating to disagree with the game designers’ moral ruling. Complex Gothic monsters function effectively as catalysts for the moral evaluations that can involve expressions of suspicion, sympathy for the underdog, begrudging acceptance, and betrayal. © The Author(s) 2018.

Performative Let’s Play gaming videos are a part of contemporary Internet culture through which morality becomes shared. Many digital games draw on Gothic traditions to feature human-like monsters who demand morally complex interpretations from players. This study examines what kinds of moral evaluations players form of ambiguous Gothic monsters in Let’s Play videos of the action role-playing game Fallout 3. With a discourse analysis of transcribed speech obtained from 20 Let’s Play series on YouTube, it argues that the moral evaluations that players actively produce impact significantly on the play experience, that players take diverse moral stances whose (in)determinacy varies based on what players assume of their audience, and that players are morally autonomous by not hesitating to disagree with the game designers’ moral ruling. Complex Gothic monsters function effectively as catalysts for the moral evaluations that can involve expressions of suspicion, sympathy for the underdog, begrudging acceptance, and betrayal. © The Author(s) 2018.

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