Video Games and Slavery

Souvik Mukherjee


What are the implications of freedom and agency when a player exercises agency to prevent another player or a non-player character fromacting freely? Such a scenario, taken to an extreme, would be that of slavery and in turn, would raise questions about the nature of freedom itself. Video games have recently begun to address questions of slavery in earnest although academic discussions on games have not yet caught up: the presence of slavers in Fallout 3, the portrayal of racism in Bioshock Infinite (Irrational Games 2014) and the direct depiction of the Caribbean slave trade in Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry (Ubisoft 2013) are extremely appropriate cases in point. This article compares the representation of slavery in video games to that of slave narratives in earlier media in order to examine how effectively digital games are able to convey the horrors of slavery as a human condition and what they can teach about the notion of human freedom and agency per se.

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Published by the Digital Games Research Association.