Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

Nordicom Review – All in a Day’s Work: Working-Class Heroes as Videogame Protagonists

A journal article that I co-wrote with Courtney Blamey, Lyne Dwyer, and Mia Consalvo was recently published in the Nordicom Review! It is titled All in a Day’s Work: Working-Class Heroes as Videogame Protagonists, and analyses depictions of various working-class occupations in videogames (full abstract below).

“Class depictions in videogames are prevalent, yet understudied. In this article, we analyse how the working class – particularly working-class men – have been depicted in videogames over the past 30 years. In doing so, we bring together a class- and gender-based analysis to study how narratives, representations, gameplay, and game systems construct the “working-class hero” as a central protagonist. This is done by examining eight paired examples of videogames that feature working-class characters in central roles, including janitor, fire-fighter, taxi driver, and bartender. Our analysis finds that some roles are glorified (such as firefighters), positioning their protagonists in direct conflict with white-collar settings and antagonists. However, many other roles task players with “doing their job” in the face of repetitive (and sometimes outlandish) working conditions. Through these examples, we document the portrayal of working-class videogame heroes, noting how videogames can both reinforce and subvert common media tropes.”

This was a fun article to write, as each us tackled a pair of videogames for analysis. Most of my writing is focused around the cultural imaginaries of firefighters as blue-collar heroes (through analysis of The Firefighters and Real Heroes: Firefighter), although I also contributed to the introduction and conclusion sections of the article. As an added bonus, the entire special issue of the Nordicom Review, Class in/and the Media, is open access and online!

a screenshot from the SNES game The Firefighters, in which the protagonist berates someone over the radio: "Just where did you study architecture?"

Citation: Iantorno, Michael, et al. “All in a Day’s Work: Working-Class Heroes as Videogame Protagonists.” Class in/and the Media, special issue of Nordicom Review 42(S3), 2021, pp. 88-110. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/nor-2021-0028

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By Michael
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer