Hackers and Cyborgs: Binary Domain and Two Formative Videogame Technicities

Brendan Keogh

Abstract


Through the course of Binary Domain’s action-packed narrative, it becomes increasingly unclear who is human, who is machine, and who is somewhere in between. Ultimately, such a distinction is futile when our everyday experiences are so ubiquitously augmented by technologies—even the act of playing Binary Domain by coupling with a virtual character through a videogame controller challenges any clear distinction between human and machine. While such themes are not new to science fiction, the anxieties expressed by Binary Domain’s characters are relevant to what have emerged over the past twenty- five years as two formative modes of identifying with videogames: the dominant hacker and the integrated cyborg. The hacker, an identity that the dominant and hegemonic ‘gamer’ consumer identity can trace a clear lineage from, comes to represent the masculinist, mastery-focused identity that most blockbuster games celebrate. The cyborg emerges in resistance to the hacker, pointing to a diversity of forms and identities that are focused less on mastering the machine than participating with it. This paper uses Binary Domain’s complex anxieties towards technology as a lens through which to trace the histories of these constitutive modes of identifying with videogames, and to demonstrate the influence they have on videogame forms and audiences.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.26503/todigra.v2i3.58

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Published by the Digital Games Research Association.