Player Identity and Avatars in Meta-narrative Video Games: A Reading of Hotline Miami

  • Luca PapaleEmail author
  • Lorenzo Fazio
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11318)


Video games are a suitable territory to experiment and play with identity, thanks to the use of avatars, which let players put themselves in someone else’s shoes, project values on blank slates or bond with virtual characters upon which they have a partial agency. Through the case study of Hotline Miami, this paper aims to examine how games can push players to actively question their identity, agency and role in the game’s systems and narrative. The end point of the paper is defining a new category of avatar, the meta-avatar, which elicits a sense of identity instability in the players, leading them to have a more conscious approach to the gameplay experience.


Video games Avatar Identity Identification Hotline Miami 


  1. 1.
    Papale, L., Fazio, L.: Teatro e videogiochi: Dall’avatāra agli avatar. Edizioni Paguro, Mercato San Severino (2018)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Knight, D.B.: Identity and territory: Geographical perspectives on nationalism and regionalism. Ann. Assoc. Am. Geogr. 72(4), 514–531 (1982). Scholar
  3. 3.
    Tutton, R.: “They want to know where they came from”: Population genetics, identity, and family genealogy. New Genet. Soc. 23(1), 105–120 (2004). Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gibson, P.: Identity and career (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Swinburne Research Bank (2001).
  5. 5.
    Nash, C., Jarrahi, M.H., Sutherland, W., Phillips, G.: Digital nomads beyond the buzzword: Defining digital nomadic work and use of digital technologies. In: Chowdhury, G., McLeod, J., Gillet, V., Willett, P. (eds.) iConference 2018. LNCS, vol. 10766, pp. 207–217. Springer, Cham (2018). Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ervin, S.: Language and TAT content in bilinguals. J. Abnorm. Soc. Psychol. 68(5), 500–507 (1964). Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ervin-Tripp, S.: An analysis of the interaction of language, topic, and listener. Am. Anthropol. 66(6), 86–102 (1964). Scholar
  8. 8.
    Koven, M.E.J.: Two languages in the self/the self in two languages: French-Portuguese bilinguals’ verbal enactments and experiences of self in narrative discourse. Ethos 26(4), 410–455 (1998). Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bauman, Z.: Liquid Modernity. Polity Press, Cambridge (2000)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Turkle, S.: Growing up in the culture of simulation. In: Denning, P.J., Metcalfe, R.M. (eds.) Beyond Calculation: The Next Fifty Years of Computing, pp. 93–104. Springer, New York (1997). Scholar
  11. 11.
    Miller, C.R.: Writing in a culture of simulation: Ethos online. In: Coppock, P. (ed.) The Semiotics of Writing: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on the Technology of Writing, pp. 253–279. Brepols, Turnhout (2001)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Pecchinenda, G.: Videogiochi e cultura della simulazione: La nascita dell’‘homo game’, 3rd edn. Editori Laterza, Milano/Bari (2010)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Essig, T.: Psychoanalysis lost – and found – in our culture of simulation and enhancement. Psychoanal. Inq. 32(5), 438–453 (2012). Scholar
  14. 14.
    Merriam-Webster Online. Accessed 24 Jul 2018
  15. 15.
    Fraschini, B.: Videogiochi & new media. In: Bittanti, M. (ed.) Per una cultura dei videogames: Teoria e prassi del videogiocare, 2nd edn, pp. 99–135. Edizioni Unicopli, Milano (2004)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    PopCap Games: Bejeweled. PopCap Games (2001)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Polyphony Digital: Gran Turismo. Sony Computer Entertainment (1998)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    id Software: DOOM. GT Interactive (1993)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Core Design: Tomb Raider. Eidos Interactive (1996)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Papale, L.: Beyond identification. Defining the relationships between player and avatar. J. Games Crit. 1(2), 1–12 (2014)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Papale, L.: Per una tassonomia delle relazioni corporee e mentali tra giocatori e personaggi dei videogiochi. Imago 12, 221–230 (2016)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Dennaton Games: Hotline Miami. Devolver Digital (2012)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Caracciolo, M.: Unknowable protagonists and narrative delirium in American Psycho and Hotline Miami: A case study in character engagement across the media. Acta Univ. Sapientiae Film and Media Stud. 9, 189–207 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IUDAV–VHEISolofraItaly
  2. 2.Badgames.itMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations