Posthumanism in play: Entangled subjects, agentic cutscenes, vibrant matter, and species hybridity

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    This chapter analyses the 2003 Ubisoft videogame Beyond Good and Evil (BGE) through posthuman autoethnography, acknowledging the complex factors at play in the experience of gameplay (Wilde 2020). In my previous work I have argued that the avatar-gamer in videogames demonstrates an embodiment of posthuman subjectivity (Wilde 2018; Wilde and Evans 2019). Rejecting anthropocentric, hierarchical views that would suggest the gamer is in control of the avatar, I instead maintain the avatar ‘controls’ the gamer just as much,1 therefore suggesting a more rhizomatic (i.e. non-hierarchical) understanding of this relationship. By using the avatar-gamer as an example of posthuman subjectivity it is possible to see how these entities intra-act (see Barad 2007) and agency emerges from their entanglement to make a series of actions and affects possible. This is similar to the ‘idea of subjectivity as an assemblage that includes non-human agents’ (Braidotti 2013: 82). I argue that posthuman subjectivity is a condition of emergence, through intra-action with other entities. In many ways, this means that posthuman subjectivity is the embodiment of the philosophical theory of posthumanism – posthuman subjectivity is ‘posthumanism in practice’ in embodied, networked, materialist, vitalist, and, crucially, multiple ways. This could also be considered as posthuman(ist) becoming. It is important to note that this ‘practice’ is occurring even in unacknowledged ways – we are posthuman subjects even if we do not account for or ‘believe’ in it. To suggest otherwise would be to reinforce humanist ideals of self-control, self-knowledge, and self-actualization. However, there are specific aspects of our embodied posthumanism that allow further critical insights into how posthumanism can be applied to other practices. Exploring the avatar-gamer emergence allows us to interrogate certain practices that might have previously been considered humanistic (through supposed focus on self, autonomy, individuality, anthropocentrism, etc.) and to ‘posthumanize’ them by breaking down their individualistic principles and reconceiving them in post-anthropocentric ways. For example, in this chapter notions of ‘control’ are swiftly dismantled and reconceived through gaming, as are issues around interaction vs. intra-action, and player ‘agency’. Furthermore, BGE is ripe for exploring posthuman themes as, throughout the game, the protagonist’s ‘individuality’ is disrupted through her reliance on ‘others’, be they
    human or non-human.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPosthumanism in Practice
    EditorsChristine Daigle, Matt Hayler
    PublisherBloomsbury Academic
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Electronic)9781350293816
    ISBN (Print)9781350293809
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - Jan 2023


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