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Playing in the darkness: video games and the dystopian imagination

Events • History • Talk and activity

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This event is part of the British Academy's season on Utopia or Dystopia - Imagining Futures

Over the past half century, computer and video games have taken us to all manner of imaginary realms. Alongside the colourful kingdoms of Mario and Pokemon, games have frequently explored dark and dystopian places. From alien attacks in Space Invaders (1978) and Berzerk (1980) through to the collapse of civilisation in modern Far Cry, Fallout and Fortnite franchises, video games have depicted a wide range of nightmarish futures. This talk reflects on what exactly these games are saying about our collective future, as well as pondering the appeal of 'playing' through our own digital dystopias.

This talk takes place at the Four Quarters bar, where visitors can enjoy playing a combination of classic arcade and console games.

Speaker: Dr John Wills, Reader in American History and Culture, University of Kent

Part of the Being Human Festival, 14-23 November.

Free, booking required 

As our public events are free, not everyone who registers for tickets attends. To make sure we have a full house we allocate more tickets than there are seats. We do our best to get the numbers right, but unfortunately we occasionally have to disappoint people. Admission is on a first come, first served basis, so please arrive in good time for the start of the event.

If you have any questions about this event, please refer to our Public Events FAQ. If your question is not answered, please email events@thebritishacademy.ac.uk.