My Analytical Framework | Nostalgia in DS Games

Previously, in my pitch video for my digital artefact, I briefly mentioned the analytical framework of which I would be applying to my analysis on nostalgic DS games. Now that I have had the time to further develop my digital artefact, let’s take a closer look at these three concepts.

Nostalgia

As quoted in the work of Wildschut et al, nostalgia is defined as “a sentimental longing for the past” (New Oxford Dictionary of English, 1998). Gaming technology is consistently improving, so what makes the games and consoles from our past so enjoyable despite their outdatedness?

The games from our childhood trigger nostalgia because we invest more emotions in playing them—heightened feelings of competitiveness, frustration, joy, and pride (Knoor, A. 2019). What makes video games a powerful tool of nostalgia compared to other elements of our past, is that we have the ability to revisit these games. My childhood experiences are preserved in the data of my DS cartridges, providing an express pass back to some of my favourite childhood memories as though no time has passed. My digital artefact will explore how my previous experiences of these games can alter the experience later on.

Content

“Video games provide an innovation that no previous story medium has ever provided: participation and control. These new factors provide a set narrative to its audience, but also allow a degree of interactivity and freedom within the narrative that previous storytelling media have not allowed.”

[Friedberg, J. 2015]

Being games that appealed to me as a child, I want to analyse the types of content that caught my attention, and determine whether there are any overarching themes across the board. What type of gameplay was I drawn to? What were the tasks and quests? And how do these types of content relate to my feelings of nostalgia. This content analysis will also tie in with my third concept: audience, as I will examine how different types of content are targeted at different audiences and how this affects ones upbringing and thus nostalgic memories.

Jared Friedberg performed a content analysis of gender within video games where he discussed the underrepresentation and sexualisation of women in video games. His studies may be relevant to my analysis as I grew up playing games targeted at females.

Audience

Analysing the role of the target audience in the appeal of my favourite DS games will assist in grasping the connections between the content of the games with the intended player characteristics. I will observe game age ratings, content warnings and demographic stereotypes and their roles in the emotions felt by the player.

I will also explore how older audiences are targeted by remakes of their childhood games – better known as ‘retro games’. Video Games as Time Machines: Video Game Nostalgia and the Success of Retro Gaming [Wulf, T. et al] explores this further, stating “gamers are starting to return to their initial and past experiences with games.” This can be applied to my digital artefact through the analysis of my old DS games including Animal Crossing and Nintendogs, which are not necessarily retro games, but have been remade for the latest Nintendo console, the Nintendo Switch.

References

Friedberg, J., 2015. Gender games: A content analysis of gender portrayals in modern, narrative video games. [Accessed 20 September, 2021].

Knorr, A,. 2019 Why Nostalgia For Video Games Is Uniquely Powerful Kotaku webblog post from 2 July. [Accessed 20 September, 2021].

Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Arndt, J. and Routledge, C., 2006. Nostalgia: content, triggers, functions. Journal of personality and social psychology91(5), p.975. [Accessed 21 September, 2021].

Wulf, T., Bowman, N.D., Rieger, D., Velez, J.A. and Breuer, J., 2018. Video games as time machines: Video game nostalgia and the success of retro gaming. Media and Communication, (2), pp.60-68. [Accessed 22 September, 2021].

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