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