Digital Media: Life-Changing Online

‘The game becomes the mediator of all your relationships’: Life Narrative and Networked Intimacy in Nina Freeman’s Cibele

  • Rob Gallagher King's College London
Keywords: videogames; postfeminism; intimacy; online culture; gender autobiography

Abstract

Nina Freeman’s 2015 videogame Cibele recounts its creator’s experience of falling in love with a fellow player of an online game. An interactive autobiography about a young woman sharing her life online, Cibele explores the terms on which new media enable users to narrate their experiences, represent themselves and forge identities. This article locates the game in relation to recent developments in life writing and independent game design, asking what digital technologies offer autobiographers as medium and as subject matter. It also frames Cibele as an attempt to challenge two dominant discourses about online culture: offering a counterpoint to narratives stressing the dangers facing young women who seek intimacy on the internet, Cibele also questions framings of networked intimacy as a necessarily deficient substitute for “the real thing.” Its oblique approach, however, in tandem with its commitment to witnessing the ambivalences and incoherencies of digital culture, have, I argue, led to these points being missed or misinterpreted by players, reflecting a longstanding tendency to dismiss and devalue women’s life writing.

Author Biography

Rob Gallagher, King's College London

Rob Gallagher is a postdoctoral researcher with King’s College London’s EgoMedia project, which considers the role of digital technologies in fostering new forms of life narrative, modes of self-presentation and conceptions of identity. His research has appeared in journals such as Film Theory, Game Studies, Convergence and Games and Culture. He is the author of Videogames, Identity and Digital Subjectivity (Routledge, 2017). Email: robert.gallagher@kcl.ac.uk.

Published
2019-05-18
Section
Digital Media: Life-Changing Online