Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Amy Rust, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Scott Ferguson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Todd Jurgess, Ph.D.


environment, media ecology, object, open world, RPG, video game, avatar


This project investigates the popular open-world fantasy RPG, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (CD Projekt RED 2015) and the ways in which the Witcher 3 brings questions of care and dependence to a digital medium so often thought of in terms of violence and/or mastery. Much of the previous discourse on video games, particularly role-playing games, has tended to center on violence and what this might mean for players behavior or the potential real world effects of this violence. Departing from a focus on violence I argue that the Witcher 3, reveals the potentials of open-world RPG video games to show how environments, subjects, and objects are all connected and interdependent. In revealing this interdependence, The Witcher 3 brings questions of care to the forefront of narrative, gameplay, and player decision making.

Leaning on theories of care and new materialism I investigate three aspects the Witcher 3: the game world itself that depicts environments as dynamic spaces, the player’s narrative role as supporting character rather than “chosen one”, and the game’s attention to objects both in maintaining inventory and their role in quests. Each of these aspects of the Witcher 3 highlights the ways in which they are all dependent upon each other while displacing the player from the center and encouraging interpersonal interactions as a means of societal impact rather than the player’s direct control of the world’s fate. In fostering a relationship between the player and the game world based in care rather than violence, The Witcher 3 opens up new ways of relating to environments and creates the possibility of cultivating this relationship outside the game perhaps inspiring care for environment, subjects and objects in our own world.