Final Frontiers: Masculinity in the Video Games of Obsidian Entertainment

Author: Robby Mangum
Major: Creative Writing
Approved: Spring 2020
Status: Completed

My distinction project aims to analyze the intersectionality of masculinity, violence, and player choice in three role playing games developed by Obsidian Entertainment: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Fallout: New Vegas, and The Outer Worlds.

Cultivation theory states that people are bombarded with so many media messages that they don’t even know they’re being bombarded with messages. One such message is the image of the strong, violent, and manly man, found in both action films and video games. By means of these media, boys learn that violence is often the best and only solution.

I want to explore how these messages are portrayed in these three video games from Obsidian Entertainment, a studio known for developing critically and commercially successful role-playing games, where the player is given the opportunity to choose their path through the story and their approaches to dilemmas.

My ultimate goal is to discuss how these video games portray the Theory of
Regenerative Violence, which links both violent masculinity and the imperialization of the American Wild West, and the Myth of Redemptive Violence, which postulates an archetypical narrative that informs the audience of their identity being built upon total violence enacted on ‘bad guys.’ I want to see how, through interactivity and especially narrative choice, the selected games embody or deconstruct these concepts.

Mangum Distinction Project Final