Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Albert Borgmann

Commitee Members

Christopher Preston, Elizabeth Hubble


Environmental philosophy, video games, phenomenology, media influence


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Continental Philosophy


In this paper I examine how representations of human-sparse natural environments, e.g. wilderness, influence what expectations we have when we actually engage with comparable physical places. I use Don Ihde's phenomenology of technology to describe my own experiences playing three games that take place among large photorealistic human-sparse natural environments: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Horizon Zero Dawn, and theHunter: Call of the Wild. I also conduct a brief literature review on the effects of video games as interactive media on players. I argue that players are capable of applying their expectations of what constitutes realism from digital to physical environments, and that some of these translocations (transferring the perceptual framework from one space to another) limit our ability to meaningfully engage with the world. Although some video games may condition players to hyperreal expectations that leave them disappointed with physical spaces, some games might also produce increased interest and care for human-sparse spaces. The causal relationship between playing video games, changing expectations, and offline behavior therefore merits further study. I conclude with the claim that our experiences with unmediated physical nature should ground our perceptual baselines, rather than evaluating the physical by the standards of the digital.



© Copyright 2018 Toryn W P Rogers