Players of an open-world video game are more than merely audience members watching a narrative play out--they actively participate and perform in the world. Drawing from scholars like Edmund Husserl, Konstantin Stanislavski, Ossy Wulansari, and PJ Manney, this paper explores principles of performance, phenomenology, and empathy to examine how open-world role-playing games, specifically Red Dead Redemption II, help players experience empathy. Constructing this experience through character attachment, length of play, and identification in a safe experimental space, these games become a bridge leading to greater empathy for people who are different from the player. The immersive nature of these games provides a suitable area for studying the effects of this media on a player's development of empathy for the character they play, others in the game world, and beyond. This paper focuses on this phenomenon through the player's performance of the main character, Arthur Morgan, and attempts to connect how this experience applies to the real-world building of player empathy.
College and Department
Fine Arts and Communications; Theatre and Media Arts
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Moser, Heather Rose, ""A Crash of Worlds": How Red Dead Redemption II Creates a World Where Players Experience Empathy Through Character Performance" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9444.
video games, Red Dead Redemption II, empathy, performance, phenomenology, ludology, experience, acting, morality