Navigating the Hollywood Monsters of the ‘Resident Evil’ Videogame Franchise

Navigating the Hollywood Monsters of the Resident Evil Videogame Franchise
Full Essay Available for Free at: Popmatters.com

Following an arc from the haunted house terror of the original release in 1996 through to an explosive apex of Hollywood violence and back towards more formally restricted experiments, the Resident Evil videogame franchise has always negotiated its own position within the survival horror genre it’s credited with helping to create.

Through capitalising on evolving hardware capabilities, novel video game mechanics, and with a persistent interest in scientifically created B.O.W.s (Bio Organic Weapons), Resident Evil has always put its creepy monsters at the forefront of its horror mechanisms, “survival” or otherwise. These creatures have been birthed and engineered in line with shifting cultural expectations spanning over 20 years, potentially showing us not only how they reflect upon the industrial and technological conditions of their creation, but also how they are positioned within wider generic boundaries and concerns.

As fantastically convoluted an experience as it is, while the thread of the Resident Evilplot line, can be just about understood from playing through the games, giving a gossamer-thin justification as to why unholy creatures enjoy holidaying in Racoon City or the sunnier climes of more exotic locations, an accompanying “tasty” itch in need of scratching lies deeper still: how do these monster interactions work under the surface?

Using Resident Evil in his study, ‘Survival Horror, Metaculture and the Fluidity of Video Game Genres’, Broc Holmquest calls attention to the lack of analysis surrounding videogame interaction, stating that “the answer to how players are interacting with and in virtual spaces is just as important as why they are doing it from a narrative standpoint” (Unraveling ‘Resident Evil’, Farghaly, 2014: 63). In another useful study on Resident Evil, ‘Opening Doors: Art-Horror and Agency’, Stephen Cadwell also considers the intertwined relationship between the “‘narrative’ elements, i.e., the cut-scenes, load screens, in-game maps, in-game texts, etc.”, and the “ergodic”, which in in this context means “non-trivial effort, i.e., pressing buttons, manoeuvring an avatar around a virtual space, and solving problems” (Unraveling ‘Resident Evil’, Farghaly, 2014: 54)…

The full 7,000 word version of this essay is published at Popmatters.com, where you can read the rest of the article for free.

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