Fawcett, Christina and Steven Kohm. "Carceral violence at the intersection of madness and crime in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City." Crime, Media, Culture 16.(2020): 265–85.
Added by: joachim (2/8/24, 5:31 PM)
|Resource type: Journal Article
Language: en: English
BibTeX citation key: Fawcett2020
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Keywords: "Batman", Adaptation, Crime comics, Game, Justice, Superhero, USA, Violence
Creators: Fawcett, Kohm
Collection: Crime, Media, Culture
The action-adventure video games Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) and Batman: Arkham City (2011) draw on familiar comic book narratives, themes and characters to situate players in a world of participatory violence, crime and madness. In the first game, the player-as-Batman is situated in Arkham Asylum, a high-security facility for the criminally insane and supervillains that also temporarily houses a general population of prisoners from Blackgate Penitentiary. The elision of criminality and mental illness becomes amplified in the second game with the establishment of Arkham City, a combined facility that conflates asylum and prison, completely dissolving any distinction between crime and madness. We draw on Rafter’s conceptual framework of popular criminology to seriously interrogate the representation of violence, crime and madness in these games. More than simply texts offering popular explanations for crime, the games directly implicate the player in violence enacted upon the bodies of criminals and patients alike. Violence is necessary to move the action of the game forward and evokes a range of emotional responses from players who draw from personal experience and other cultural and media representations as they navigate the game. We argue that while the game celebrates violence and the brutal conditions of incarceration, it also offers possibilities for subversive and critical readings. While working to affirm assumptions about crime and mental illness, the game also provides a visceral and visual critique of excessive punishment by the state as a source of injustice for those deemed mad or bad.