“War never changes.” Gender Roles and the Transformative Potential for Role Reversal in Roleplay Games with Post-Apocalyptic Settings


  • Marie-Luise Meier




Role reversal, gender roles, post-apocalyptic, apocalypse, Fallout 4, Horizon: Zero Dawn, game studies, gamevironments


This article tackles the question in which ways the apocalypse has a transformative potential for rethinking gender roles and breaking up with stereotypes in post-apocalyptic Open World Roleplay Games (RPGs). It inquires if and in what way a change in hegemonic structures can be observed on the levels of society, characters, and also in terms of the ludic possibilities provided within the game-worlds. In order to do so, two contemporary post-apocalyptic Open World RPGs are analyzed, namely Fallout 4 (2015) and Horizon Zero Dawn (2017). It is evident that Fallout 4 continues a male-connotated line of motives, transpired by past media. Horizon Zero Dawn uses the potential of the apocalypse, the promised restart, to instead generate a new society. This society has not yet achieved a state of equality but has already reached a new baseline of strong characters of different genders without racial disparity, that is further fostered by the protagonist’s journey. Hurtful gender tropes are thereby overcome, and stereotypes are being subverted.






Peer-reviewed Articles