Cute, interesting, zany ghosts

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemerapeer-review


This presentation considers three different aesthetic categories of ghosts in video games: cute ghosts, zany ghosts, and interesting ghosts, drawing from Sianne Ngai’s work Our Aesthetic Categories. While Ngai’s work does not speak to video games directly, it does explore categories of aesthetic experience about production, circulation, and consumption. Ngai argues, for all their marginality to aesthetic theory, these categories examine some of the most important social dynamics underlying life in late capitalist society; that the cute, zany and interesting express conflicting feelings that connect to the ways postmodern subjects work, exchange, and consume.

I examine the appearance of ghosts in three games. The cute Wisp in Animal Crossing: New Horizons and its relation to acquiring rare and unusual items; the interesting puzzle givers of Little Nine and Dusky Ming of Genshin Impact; and the hardworking zany shades of Hades who, reflecting the game’s thematic interest in continued effort, exist as eternal water-cooler gossips and workers in the Administrative Chamber in the House of Hades. In doing so I present a deeper examination of the affective quality ghosts have in video games, and how their form and function as occult beings have evolved in the context of late capitalist society.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022
EventCultural Studies Association of Australasia Annual Conference 2022: CSAA 30th Anniversary Conference - RMIT, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 1 Dec 20223 Dec 2022


ConferenceCultural Studies Association of Australasia Annual Conference 2022


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