Beyond Evil and Good in Online Gaming. An Analysis of Violence in ‘Overwatch’ Between Demonization and Proactive Values

Enrico Gandolfi, Francesca Antonacci


Many studies have addressed and explored the effects of video games with an emphasis on violence and aggressive behaviors. This article’s aim is to go beyond the simplistic difference between negative outcomes and their absence by suggesting the concept of “meaningful violence.” For exploring possible instances of such a phenomenon, a content analysis (Gee, 2012) of online materials (online comments, user-generated content) from leading gaming media environments (Reddit, YouTube) was directed targeting the popular video game Overwatch. The theoretical framework adopted drawn its cornerstones from Educational Sciences, Philosophy, and Media Studies, spanning key concepts such as “symbolic imaginary” (Durand, 1999, Wunenburger, 1995) and phenomenological-hermeneutic analysis (Gadamer, 2004). Results point to an alternative overview of gaming violence, which puts in-game aggressiveness and sacrifice in a new light beyond counter-posed viewpoints. Implications are noteworthy for both researchers and practitioners, who can harness positive and proactive processes behind apparently negative attitudes and superficial measurements of explicit content and disruptive actions.


game violence; media platforms; Overwatch; symbolic imaginary

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