Song of a Broken World: A Study on NieR: Automata's Presentation of Argument




Tan, Xinlyu

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This thesis examines NieR: Automata, a video game published in 2017 on PlayStation 4 from a narratological perspective to see how it composes its narrative elements to make an excellent argument about existence. The director Yōkō Tarō argues that, we could and should exert our agency to make the choice in our life, thus this is how we grant our life meaning. This thesis aims at providing a relatively comprehensive analysis on Automata’s profound understanding and presentation of Sartre's existentialism, its ingenious narrative construction, and the close association between them, through a contextualization on Sartre's existentialism, and a game components analysis. Yōkō takes his works as exploration on the usual themes and elements in the video games like violence and life, and Automata becomes his answer to one's life. From a comprehensive demonstration involving Automata’s game and narrative structure, we could clearly see that these two aspects are built so closely – all the game components are all associated with its central argument about existence and agency, and affirming or enhancing it from different perspectives, including its game systems, playthrough process, maps and stages, et cetera. Automata's argument shows a reflection on Japanese's collective recognition of self, which evidently received much influence from Sartre's Existentialism, a western philosophy view, suggesting a globalizing trend in the Japanese cultural context. Automata also gives a fine example for narrative game and illustrates that video game could be a persuasive lesson of argument in reality as well. By applying this literary study on Automata, this thesis also aims to provide an example for similar narrative studies on video games in the future.



Narrative game, Agency, Literary study, Existentialism, Video game