“He died a lot”: The Gothic Gameplay of 'What Remains of Edith Finch'

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter

Abstract

This chapter is an exploration of Giant Sparrow’s acclaimed ‘walking simulator’ What Remains of Edith Finch, drawing on a combination of videogame scholarship and Gothic studies. In an appropriate play on the game’s title, Shane Snyder considers Edit Finch, alongside Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, a videogame unfolding within an abandoned space entailing ‘an exploration of what has been left behind’ (Snyder 2018, 9-10). The game tells of a young woman’s return to her abandoned family home following the death of her mother. Narrated by the eponymous protagonist, it is structured as a journal, a testimony, a last will and testament left by its central character to her unborn child, detailing the family curse which has claimed the lives of every Finch before her. Every sealed room contains a shrine-like space displaying a painting of a family member, objects reflecting their lives, and a document of some form. Interacting with this manuscript produces a brief interactive sequence, teleological structured to end in the demise of its respective family member. Play involves investigating the dynastic mansion, learning how generations of Finches were variously poisoned, crushed, drowned or decapitated. This chapter will follow Edith’s path through the mansion and the twisted chronology she encounters, illustrating how this game reproduces themes of Gothic fiction, while translating narrative tropes and traditions according to the conventions and affordances of the videogame medium.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeath, Culture & Leisure
Subtitle of host publicationPlaying Dead
EditorsMatt Coward-Gibbs
PublisherEmerald
Chapter7
ISBN (Print)9781839090387
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2020

Publication series

NameEmerald Studies in Death and Culture
PublisherEmerald

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 by Ewan Kirkland
Published under exclusive licence

Keywords

  • death
  • videogames
  • walking simulator
  • horror
  • Gothic

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  • Cite this

    Kirkland, E. (2020). “He died a lot”: The Gothic Gameplay of 'What Remains of Edith Finch'. In M. Coward-Gibbs (Ed.), Death, Culture & Leisure: Playing Dead (Emerald Studies in Death and Culture). Emerald. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-83909-037-020201014