Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Anne T. Demo


Form, Rhetoric, Video Games, Witnessing


Ian Bogost's 2011 book How to Do Things with Video Games seeks to "reveal a small portion of the many uses of video games and how together they make the medium broader, richer, and more relevant (p. 7). I aspire to join Bogost's conversation by offering another use for video games--the video game as a site of immersive witnessing. To showcase how witnessing can be meaningfully utilized in video games, I present case studies of two vastly disparate games: commercial entertainment game Telltale's The Walking Dead and not-for-profit game Half the Sky Movement: The Game. My method of analysis traces rhetorical and design forms (including narrative, duration, immersion, choice, and reflection) that contribute to my conception of an immersive witnessing experience. Achieved through games' immersive and agentic properties, witnessing through games involves different emotional and thought processes than other media. This model not only potentially appeals to new audiences but also engages those audiences in a distinctly different way from media of the past.


Open Access