Hiding (in) the Tall Grass: Rethinking Background Assets in Videogame Plantscapes

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper explores the significance of ‘grass’ assets, bringing Critical Plant Studies (Hall 2011; Marder, 2013; Pollan, 2001) and the Anglo-American lawn’s cultural historiography (Marusek, 2012: Robbins 2007; Steinberg, 2006) to textual analysis of ludic backdrops. While Alenda Chang critiques the “functionally inert” plants of “predominantly visual” videogame environments (2019, 23), this risks reinforcing the treatment of plants in purely instrumental ‘functional’ terms and repeating what Michael Marder (2013) identifies as Western marginalisation of flora’s rooted, acephalic alterity, and reifying narrow anthropocentric values of agency and centrality. Indeed, passivity is key to videogames (Fizek, 2018; Keogh, 2019), and Game Studies regrettably marginalises visuality (Keogh 2018). I propose that questionably ‘visual’ and ‘inert’ background assets (exemplified by grass) offer rich and under-examined terrain for analysis wherein the ‘plantscapes’ dwarfing humanity (Hall, 2011, 3) might challenge disciplinary understanding of agency/interactivity and foreground/background.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventEcogames - University of Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
Duration: 12 Oct 202113 Oct 2021




  • critical plant studies
  • grass
  • game assets
  • game visuality
  • game aesthetics
  • green game studies


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