Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (1.97 MB)

Introducing "bleed": a theoretical framework for video game analysis

Download (1.97 MB)
posted on 2022-10-26, 04:43 authored by Rachel Sims

This thesis establishes the theory of ‘bleed’ as an alternative means of conceptualising the relationship between video game player and game-world. At present, bleed is currently a theoretically underdeveloped concept, with existing scholarship identifying two key features: the first, that bleed is a design principle, and the second, that bleed is an emotional investment between player and character. As a result, I argue that bleed is instrumental to understanding the way players form their beliefs and values, and how this in turn informs their behaviour in a game-internal and game-external context. To do this, existing theories of ideology, ethics, and performativity are used, demonstrating bleed’s value in the way it allows for a multipronged analysis of the process players undergo in the formation of their beliefs and values. This is combined with the textual analysis of CD Project Red’s The Witcher franchise to explore bleed as a functional theoretical framework through a concrete example, drawing on a single quest or paratext from each of the three games that comprise the franchise. This research establishes bleed as a unique theoretical framework to be adopted by video game studies, offering a viable alternative to existing media studies approaches to video game analysis. 


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter one - “Evil is evil, Stregobor. Lesser, greater, middling, it’s all the same,”: the politics of bleed -- Chapter two - “A great danger lies in wait. If you wish, I can tell you how you might evade it, unless you’d prefer to ask something else?”: bleed and the question of player ethics -- Chapter three - “A Witcher carries two swords. Both are for monsters,”: bleed, performativity, and power -- Conclusion -- References

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Department of Media, Communications, Creative Arts, Language and Literature, 2021

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Communications, Creative Arts, Language and Literature

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Rowan Tulloch


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




78 pages

Usage metrics

    Macquarie University Theses


    Ref. manager