Procedural monsters: rhetoric, commonplace and ‘heroic madness’ in video games

Grimwood, Tom ORCID logo ORCID: (2018) Procedural monsters: rhetoric, commonplace and ‘heroic madness’ in video games. Journal for Cultural Research, 22 (3). pp. 310-324.

[thumbnail of Grimwood_ProceduralMonsters.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License CC BY-NC

Download (244kB) | Preview
Official URL:


This paper draws on Ian Bogost’s argument that video games constitute a form of ‘procedural rhetoric’, in order to re-examine the representation of heroic madness First-Person-Shooter games. Rejecting the idea that games attempt to recreate the experience of madness to the player through linear representation, the paper instead identifies two persistent commonplace figures which appear within the genre: the monstrous double, and the reaching tentacle. While Bogost’s notion of procedural rhetoric allows analysis to move away from the more facile interpretations of gameplay, the paper argues that these figures also demand an account of the commonplace itself – the rhetorical ‘topic’ – which links the technical structure of gaming procedures with the tropes and figures that enable them to make sense within their wider cultural context and tradition. While the figures of the double and the tentacle purposefully draw on existing tropes and processes associated with the cultural meanings of mental health, a rhetorical analysis of their use of commonplaces suggests that they are not simply recycling older clichés, but constitute a creative ‘reobjectification’ of madness.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Journal for Cultural Research
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN: 1740-1666
Departments: Health and Society Knowledge Exchange (HASKE)
Depositing User: Tom Grimwood
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2018 13:40
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 08:01


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

Edit Item