History & Theory

Gamic Orientalism

History & Theory
26 Feb, 2015

Gamic Orientalism


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Original Post

Said's Orientalism has been (and remains) one of the most influential and controversial critiques of Europe's engagement with Asia. It has provided powerful perspectives in literature, art, and cultural studies. In this lecture, Goto-Jones asks what happens to Orientalism when it is deployed as a means to interrogate interactive, digital media such as video games. Rather than functioning as a representational critique, Goto-Jones argues that "Gamic Orientalism" participates in a new form of the 'fantasy of becoming.' Using the cases of Bushido and the martial arts as analogies, Goto-Jones explores the fantasy of enlightenment through the medium of video games, leading to the development of "virtual ninja theory" as a new media manifesto.

Chris Goto-Jones is the inaugural chair professor of Comparative Philosophy & Political Thought at Leiden University, Professorial Research Associate of the University of London, and Senior Research Fellow in Politics at Oxford University. He was previously Professor of Modern Japan Studies and director of the Modern East Asia Research Centre, Leiden. Goto-Jones is co-founder of the Political and Philosophical Arts initiative ( and a ‘VICI’ laureate of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). He is principal researcher of a 5-year (1.5 million euro) project to analyze the contributions of visual, interactive, and performance culture to political philosophy in Japan and East Asia ( He has published widely in the fields of political thought and comparative philosophy; in terms of popularizing publications, he is author of ‘A Very Short Introduction to Modern Japan’ (Oxford University Press, 2009), which has been translated into many languages worldwide.

The History and Theory of New Media Lecture Series brings to campus leading humanities scholars working on issues of media transition and technological emergence. The series promotes new, interdisciplinary approaches to questions about the uses, meanings, causes, and effects of rapid or dramatic shifts in techno-infrastructure, information management, and forms of mediated expression. Presented by the Berkeley Center for New Media, this event is free and open to the public.

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