A belated but very heartfelt thanks to my colleagues in the U.K., especially Dr. Irene Fubara-Manuel, for the kind invitation to speak as part of the research seminars series at the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex. Given the topic, it was definitely intense sharing this particular research one day after the U.S. election…
America is Dead. Long Live America!: Political Affect in Days Gone
In this presentation, Murray considers political affect in the open world action-adventure survival horror game Days Gone (SIE Bend Studios, 2019). Through its rendering of the Pacific Northwest landscape as ideology, much is revealed about a deeply troubled and oppositional worldview. While her research addresses matters of representation—particularly notions of fraught masculinity and a struggle for recognition—Murray’s focus is on how the game functions as a window onto a fantasy of American self-reliance and populism that strongly resonates with a Trump-era nationalist turn in the U.S. The work also gestures toward a methodology of experiential close-reading, one focused on working-through and sitting with a difficult aesthetic object that may at first seem entirely generic. In this essay, Murray reaches through the offending, formulaic image to grasp the political affect that emanates from a sustained aesthetic experience of playing Days Gone.