ABSTRACT

This chapter examines how the concept of love has been explored, constructed, and challenged by the 2005 Japanese computer game, Shadow of the Colossus. The chapter focuses on how affection and emotional attention are modulated by the game’s design and the medium’s capacities. It, therefore, addresses two main questions: how is love represented through the medium of computer games, and what does Shadow of the Colossus add to the wider polyphonic conversation on love, affect, and attachment in contemporary Japan. To do so the chapter first situates the game within a wider conversation on love and affect in Japan, and its relations to the theme of life and death boundary transgressions, a narrative structure that tells stories of characters journeying to the afterlife to resurrect a loved one. The chapter then applies a methodology based on design theory and retentional economy to focus on the mechanics of the game, and the story and ethical challenges subtracted from playing it. Then, by applying this methodology it argues that Shadow of the Colossus challenges romantic love, and its toxic origins and outcomes. Love, as any other ideal, is represented as a force capable of destruction and danger when motivated by individualistic and selfish obsessions.