Mafia and the representation of Italians

Giulio Pitroso


This study analyses the representation of Italians and the Mafia in video games. It analyses games of different genres with Italian organized crime as the main theme: they differ in terms of gameplay and narrative, though they all have important features in common. The study compares movies about organized crime and video games, in order to understand the relation between themes and genres in these two media. Furthermore, the paper examines both narrative aspects and game design, and is intended to raise questions concerning the genre of Mafia games. It also analyzes the role of Italian ethnic background, as well as the role played by gender and sexual orientation, and relates those elements to the values commonly associated with the Italian Mafia. Finally, the study highlights how games represent more general stereotypes that are associated with Italian culture, such as the consumption habits of food and music. The methods of this research are based on semiotic analysis, sociolinguistics and Cultural Studies.


Mafia; Italy; Italian-Americans; Sicilian language; management games; action games; casual games

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Published by the Digital Games Research Association.