Can We Programme Utopia? The Influence of the Digital Neoliberal Discourse on Utopian Videogames

  • Luis Navarrete-Cardero University of Seville
  • Juan J. Vargas-Iglesias University of Seville
Keywords: capitalism, utopia, videogame, walking simulator, procedural rhetoric


This article has a dual purpose. The first is to establish the relationship between videogames and utopia in the neoliberal era and clarify the origins of this compromise in the theoretical dimension of game studies. The second is to examine the ways in which there has been an application of the utopian genre throughout videogame history (the style of procedural rhetoric and the subgenre of walking simulator) and the way in which the material dimension of the medium ideologically updates the classical forms of that genre, be it through activation or deactivation. The article concludes with an evaluation of the degree in which the neoliberal discourse interferes with the understanding of utopia on behalf of the medium and with its imaginary capabilities to allow for an effective change in social reality.

Author Biographies

Luis Navarrete-Cardero, University of Seville

Luis Navarrete-Cardero (PhD, University of Seville, Spain). Coordinator of the Master in Videogames of the University of Seville and director of the collection on videogames of the publishing company Síntesis. He is also the author of numerous articles and books related to Game Studies. His latest publication is the book titled Spain Ludica. La imagen romántica de España en el videojuego (UOC, 2017). He is currently professor and coordinator of the subjects Hybrid Narrative Formats in the Digital Age, New Technologies of the Audiovisual Media and Videogame Script, belonging to the Department of Audiovisual Communication of the Faculty of Communication of the University of Seville.

Juan J. Vargas-Iglesias, University of Seville

Juan J. Vargas-Iglesias (PhD, University of Seville, Spain) is a professor in the Audiovisual Communication and Advertising Department of the University of Seville, where he teaches subjects about postmodern fiction, digital culture and media criticism. He is the author and editor of some books related to media studies and his work has been presented at national and international conferences. His current research focuses on the semiotics of genre in videogames.