Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts





First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Lesley Larkin


Choice-based video games have often been called “interactive movies” for their unique position as a genre that lets players craft a unique story by making decisions that alter the game’s narrative. Two well-known examples in this genre, Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human, offer a variety of possible story lines and outcomes for players to experience. However, because these two narratives are steeped in themes of police brutality, systemic racism, and protest, the way a player shapes a story does not exist in a relatively “moral-free” vacuum. Rather, the legal and social precedents that are often used to absolve police misconduct of blame by indicating an absence of choice are accentuated in these two video games. Through the lens of ludonarratology, which emphasizes both the played experience and the narrative of a video game, I will explain how both Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human demonstrate both the presence of personal choice and the institutional frameworks which inhibit agency in order to maintain power. In addition, the racial tones of Detroit: Become Human offer at times subversive readings of police brutality while maintaining dominant narratives of protest that protect white comfort.

Access Type

Open Access