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Devil May Cry and Society of the Spectacle


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Devil May Cry is a game created by Ninja Theory, a game developer based in England. Their latest game, shortened as DmC, is about a young boy who uprises against what Louis Althusser calls ‘ideological apparatuses of the state’. Metaphorically all the CEOs, bank managers, media presenters and politicians are depicted as a demon. In the plot of the game, they’re all the enemies that we need to fight against.

The name of main character is Dante, a signifier to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, and he is alienated from the society and he is shown as a threat to city’s security. That’s why the system he lives in treats him as a criminal even though he doesn’t commit any crime.

The game always refers to marxist terminology without revealing it directly. It emphasizes the commodity fetishism and culture of consumerism. Furthermore, we have to mention Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle book here, as the game constantly reminds the player a systematic conflation of capitalism and mass media, and government’s policies to exploit them. In fact, the ‘spectacle’ transforms organic human relations into objectified relations among images (and vice versa) and the hero of game wants to reveal this truth, inform people about what is hidden in their unconsciousness.

I also would like to share a marketing strategy of Ninja Theory, developed for the promotion of DmC. Below, you’ll see an augmented reality application where some specific signs and visuals of the city transforms into different images via smartphones of users.

Digital games are the instruments of cultural production and in this case, DmC have been commodified as a commercial activity that transforms its artistic expression into a commercial value. Although it criticizes socio-economic capitalist structure, it serves as a spectacle to society. Hence, as Guy Debord says ‘In the Society of the Spectacle, all the promises of liberation becomes a part of the spectacle.’

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