Games and Self-Imagining, a Comparative Media Perspective

Jan Van Looy


This article compares the self-positioning mechanisms used by the computer game American McGee’s Alice to those of its paper and film predecessors. After dismissing the claim that the virtual is ontologically different and therefore incomparable to the fictional, Kendall Walton’s theory of representation as make-believe is laid out. This theory is then used to describe the various techniques for entertaining laid out by the three works and relate them to their relative medium-specific qualities. Next, Walton’s concepts of subjective and objective imagining are presented to describe the positions of the imagined self vis-à-vis the represented events. When applied to the material at hand, it becomes clear that while Walton’s theory does not allow for simple categorisation and that all three media lay out complex strategies combining subjective and objective techniques, overall the game can be seen as evoking a primarily subjective experience with an objective counterweight whilst the book and the film should be seen as primarily objective with subjectifying elements.


computer games, self-imagining, Alice in Wonderland, representation as make-believe, adaptation, comparative media

Full Text: