Video games permeate our everyday existence. They immerse players in fascinating gameworlds and exciting experiences, often inviting them in various ways to reflect on the enacted events.

In “Playing Dystopia” I explore the genre of the video game dystopia and the player’s aesthetic response to its nightmarish gameworlds. Players, thus goes my argument, will gradually come to see similarities between the dystopian gameworld and their own contemporary surroundings. They thus not only learn to stay wary of social and political developments but are also encouraged to actively engage in cultural change and transformation.

In my analysis I draw from a variety of research fields–such as theories of fiction, reader-response, utopian/dystopian/science fiction studies, game studies, and dream theory–combining them into a coherent theory of aesthetic response to dystopian games in particular and video game narratives in general.

Essays / Papers / Conference Proceedings:

  • “Regenerative Play and the Experience of the Sublime in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” Philosophy of Computer Games Conference, 2018 (Part of the Game Studies Triple Conference), Copenhagen.
    Link: Game Studies Triple Conference
    PDF-File: 06 – farca et al – regenerative play
  • “The Journey to Nature: The Last of Us as Critical Dystopia”. Proceedings of DiGRA and FDG First Joint International Conference (together with Charlotte Ladevèze), 08/2016.
    LinkDiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

    Abstract: As an instance of the critical dystopia, The Last of Us lets the player enact a post-apocalyptic story in which human society has been severely decimated by the Cordyceps infection and where nature has made an astonishing return. This paper examines the ecological rhetoric of The Last of Us by laying emphasis on the empirical player’s emancipated involvement in the gameworld (virtualized storyworld) and how s/he engages in a creative dialectic with the implied player. In suggesting the utopian enclave of a life in balance with nature, The Last of Us scrutinises the ills of our empirical present and lays a negative image on the latter. As such, The Last of Us is a magnificent example of the video game dystopia and succeeds in triggering a powerful aesthetic response in the empirical player, which might result in a call to action in the real world.


  • “The Emancipated Player”. Proceedings of DiGRA and FDG First Joint International Conference, 08/2016.
    LinkDiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

    Abstract: Elevating video games to the same aesthetic level as other forms of representational art, this paper explores humankind’s inherent drive towards aesthetic beauty and the creation of meaning. To analyse this specific type of player, slumbering in all of us, I propose the emancipated player. The emancipated player represents an open-minded and critical player type who willingly engages in the act of play and who primarily wants to experience play’s aesthetic effect. As a refinement of player involvement in video games, the emancipated player’s experience in the gameworld can be regarded as a specific phenomenology of play and becomes particularly fruitful for the analysis of virtualized storyworlds or video game narratives.
    The Emancipated Player
  • “Agency and Personal Responsibility in The Walking Dead“. Making Games (01/2014). IDG Entertainment Media GmbH, 2014. (62 – 67)
    Link: Making Games
    PDF-Download: Agency and Personal Responsibility in The Walking Dead

Game Translations:

  • German Translation (with Ralph Knörzer) of “A Story About My Uncle”. Gone North Games. Coffee Stain Studios, 2014. Link: Gone North Games



  • Interviewed by Sebastian Richly: Super Mario: Deshalb ist der hüpfende Videospiel-Klempner so beliebt. Augsburger Allgemeine, 2016. Link: Augsburger Allgemeine