Illusions of space and time: An ethical approach to temporality in games1 | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 10, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1757-191X
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1928



Time is a much-explored topic in game studies, as are questions of historical accuracy and ethics. However, an ethics of time in games remains relatively unexplored. This article takes an ethical approach to theorizing game time, drawing on French philosopher Michel Serres’s distinction between linear and topological time. Serres argues that conceiving of time linearly commits us to the belief that progress itself is a deterministic and oftentimes violent series of upheavals. Contemporary video games that play with time seem to exemplify this. Games like , and have players manipulate time for the explicit purpose of reproducing a singular narrative, compelling players to synchronize their decisions with a violent, linear series of events. In this article such games are contrasted with more temporally topological titles such as , and , which deconstruct linearity and demonstrate the ethical affordances of non-linear game temporalities.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): ethics; history; media theory; Michel Serres; time; violence
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