Animal Mayhem Games and Nonhuman-Oriented Thinking

Caracciolo, Marco. “Animal Mayhem Games and Nonhuman-Oriented Thinking.” Game Studies 21, no. 1 (2021). http://gamestudies.org/2101/articles/caracciolo

A host of recent videogames revolve around animals that wreak havoc on human communities and the urban spaces they live in. After introducing this strand of “animal mayhem games,” my paper links it to recent arguments on human-nonhuman entanglement in times of ecological crisis. Games like Goat Simulator, Deeeer Simulator and Tokyo Jungle ask players to engage with an animal avatar while simultaneously unsettling dichotomies between human societies and nonhuman phenomena. The destabilization of anthropocentric assumptions, I argue, is the deeper significance of animal mayhem. The subversive fun generated by these games speaks to core ideas of nonhuman-oriented thinking, particularly Timothy Morton’s concept of “strange stranger.” My close readings of Goat Simulator and Untitled Goose Game focus on the intersection of nonhuman agency and generic templates drawn from open world and puzzle games, respectively.

Caracciolo. 2021. Animal Mayhem Games and Nonhuman-Oriented Thinking