Game Cultures: Love and Cosiness

Date & Time:

7th June, 16:00


Online event; the link will be made available to those who register.


This seminar explores the themes of love and cosiness in games, with Agata Waszkiewicz and Renata Ntelia.

Agata Waszkiewicz – The Aesthetic of Cozy Games

As defined by Daniel Cook in 2018 cozy games can be defined by three main qualities: 1) a sense of security, provided by low-level of gameplay difficulty, lack of opponents, threats, and the inability to lose the character and/or progress; 2) abundance of resources (such as food and building resources), and 3) softness, referring primarily to the audiovisual style of the game, which is often characterized by subdued, bright colors and calm music. In this talk, Agata Waszkiewicz will examine the aesthetic of cuteness in cozy games, considering their role in player-game relationship, and pointing out their political and activist potential.

Renata Ntelia (University of Lincoln) Can We Love Artificial Humans? Love in Games as Experience and Representation

In this presentation, I tackle the question of whether human players can love computer-generated characters in the context of single player avatarial games. Games can offer strong and intense emotional experiences. Love, however, seems to challenge the affordances of the medium. Digital games are preoccupied with codification due to their algorithmic nature. This suggests that love in games, if it is to feature, has to become quantifiable and preconfigured. Can love ever be so rigid? Using phenomenology and embodied perception, I discern two types of love in games: the experience of love as intentional embodiment and the experience of love as representation, which I call romance. I argue that even though we may have emotional reactions and feel attachment and care towards digital characters, as long as they cannot choose us and choose to love us in the same manner that we can, then this experience is not love. Love, unlike or more so than other emotions, demands reciprocity. For this reason, I argue that games cannot afford intentional love, at least not before they can include agents of intentional embodiment. At the same time, I show that even though games cannot afford love as intentional, they can and do afford love as representation; an experience of love as fantasy, that is, that enables genuine feelings, distinct to love, due to its codified nature.

About the speakers:

Agata Waszkiewicz, Ph.D. (they/them) is a game scholar whose interests include metafictional and experimental video games, the representation of non-normative identities in digital games, and the intersections between food and game studies. Their book Delicious Pixels: Food in Video Games was published in 2022 as part of Video Games and the Humanities series by De Gruyter. They currently hold the position of a Secretary of DiGRA Central Eastern Europe chapter.

Renata Ntelia is a lecturer of games with the School of Computer Science, University of Lincoln. She holds a PhD from the Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta. Her research interests include love phenomenology, death and the macabre, and experimental game design. She also works as game writer and localisation expert.