Immunitary Gaming: Mapping the First-Person Shooter

Cenci, Robert Andrew. 2017. Immunitary Gaming: Mapping the First-Person Shooter. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Videogames have been theorised as an action-based medium. The original contribution to
knowledge this thesis makes is to reconfigure this claim by considering popular multiplayer FPS
games as reaction-based – particularly, immune reactions. I take up Roberto Esposito’s claim
that the individual in contemporary biopolitics is defined negatively against the other, controlled
and ultimately negated via their reactions to power’s capacity to incessantly generate threats.
By inciting insecurity and self-protective gestures, FPS games like Activision’s Call of Duty
franchise and EA’s Battlefield series vividly dramatise Esposito’s thought, producing an
immunitary gaming.

Immunitary Gaming locates the FPS within key moments of change as well as evolution in
Western image systems including the emergence of linear perspective, cartography and the
early years of the cinema. The FPS appropriates these image systems, but also alters their
politics. Giorgio Agamben has argued that the apparatuses of late modernity no longer
subjectify like their forebears, but desubjectify the individual, producing an impotent neoliberal
body politic. I trace a similar development here.

My work also seeks to capture the player’s movements via autoethnographic writing that
communicates the viscerally and intensity of the experience. The FPS is framed as capable of
giving insight into both the present and the future of our technological and political milieu and
‘sensorium,’ in Walter Benjamin’s terms. In its valorisation of the individual and production of
insecurity to incite action, this project argues that the FPS is a symbolic form of immunitary
neoliberal governmentality.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

This is an edited version of the thesis, with third-party copyright material removed.


Video game, immunity, first-person shooter, biopolitics, neoliberal

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


31 July 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

14 Sep 2017 10:25

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 14:08


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