Embodying Environmental Relationship: A Comparative Ecocritical Analysis of 'Journey' and 'Unravel'


  • Lykke Guanio-Uluru Western Norway University of Applied Sciences




ecocritical game analysis, game design, semiotic register, player-to-landscape relationship, embodiment


Departing from Jane Suzanne Carroll’s contention that “Landscapes are at once geographical and historical, natural and cultural, experienced and represented, and present a spatial interface between human culture and physical terrain” (2), this article draws on game studies (Aarseth; Sicart; Yee; Isbister) and on discussions of game design (Schell; Chen; Sahlin) to analyse the landscape and avatar design of Journey and Unravel. Developing the term semiotic register as an analytical lens, the article seeks to pin-point the means by which the two games move the player to adopt distinctly different attitudes and relationships to the games’ natural scenes. The article starts by positioning the study in relation to previous ecocritical analyses of games (Backe; Bianchi; Bohunicky; Chang; Lehner; Parham) and by discussing some aspects of indirect player management before analysing and comparing the two games in more detail.


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Author Biography

Lykke Guanio-Uluru, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Lykke Guanio-Uluru (hagl@hvl.no) is Professor of Literature at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Her research focus is on ecocriticism, plant studies and game studies. She has authored multiple research articles and the monography Ethics and Form in Fantasy Literature: Tolkien, Rowling and Meyer (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), and co-edited Ecocritical Perspectives on Children’s Texts and Cultures: Nordic Dialogues (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018),  and Plants in Children’s and YA Literature (Routledge, 2021).