“Understanding” Narrative; Applying Poetics to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While allusions to Aristotle’s Poetics have been contentious in videogame discourse this paper seeks to show that there is immense value in using the conceptual terms and mechanisms that Aristotle introduced in his Poetics. They can be used to highlight the unique ways that games can create meaning both in their narrative structure and generated by gameplay. Moreover, using detailed definitions of key terms such as mimesis, catharsis and hamartia offer a useful lens for understanding narrative arcs in a medium that inherently confounds the structure of other narrative forms. This structure conforms to an arc of knowledge acquisition for both the player and player character. This process is illustrated using contemporary videogame discourse as well as Ninja Theory’s award-winning title Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017).
Original languageEnglish
JournalGame Studies
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished online - 21 Jul 2021


  • video games
  • aristotle
  • Narrative
  • narrative design
  • digital poetics
  • catharsis
  • mimesis
  • poetics
  • aporia
  • epiphany


Dive into the research topics of '“Understanding” Narrative; Applying Poetics to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this