Play As Subversion: Videogames in the Age of Transhumanism

Shalini Harilal

Publication: Volume 3 Issue 2

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This paper discusses the contemporary relevance of video games within the larger context of an increasingly technology-oriented societies. The argument proposed is that an optimistic view of the future as imagined by transhumanism could lead to an anticipation of radical goals like prolonged lifespan and immortality which, at present, remain unattainable, thereby creating a disconnect between expectations and outcomes. This paper argues that video games act as platforms for subconscious attempts at subverting this disconnect by providing players with the opportunity to create and/or inhabit game avatars. The existence of players within virtual game worlds as avatars is compared to the act of creating horcruxes in the fictional world of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series where horcrux is a contraption that helps overcome death. By comparing the notion of horcrux to the habitation of game avatars, this paper argues that a video game is a potential site for the manifestation of figurative precautionary measures against death. These measures are posited as subversive mechanisms because the rhetoric of technological advancement disregards the intensely personal nature of dying. The paper argues that figurative video game horcruxing is a subjective coping mechanism which is in a way subversive to the official transhuman narrative.

Keywords: Death, Horcrux, Philosophy, Posthuman, Transhumanism, Video games

Shalini Harilal ( is a doctoral candidate at the Department of English Literature, English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad, India. She has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Her academic interests include the fields of narratology, religion, ritual, video games narratives, and transhumanism.