The Walking Simulator’s Generic Experiences

  • Hugo Montembeault Université de Montréal
  • Maxime Deslongchamps-Gagnon Université de Montréal


This article examines walking simulators through the lens of video game genre study. Following Arsenault’s (2011) thesis which theorized genre as the “temporary crystallization of a common cultural consensus” (pp. 333–334), it maps the shared horizon of expectations of the walking simulator. The first section presents an overview of genre theory in the field of game studies. The second part assembles a corpus of five iconic walking simulators based on a discourse analysis conducted in four gaming communities: scholars, journalists, designers, and Steam users. The third portion builds on this discourse analysis to conceptualize five clusters of “generic resources” (Gregersen, 2014) that synthesize the collective understanding of the walking simulator’s generic experiences, which are then analyzed in the final segment with reference to one exemplar game of the corpus. Each analysis introduces a specific “generic effect” (Arsenault, 2011)—peacefulness, secretiveness, fatalism, everydayness, and self-reflexive distanciation—that contributes to ongoing efforts to outline the experiences of this genre. The conclusion ends witha brief discussion about the importance of transgeneric studies.

August 26, 2019