Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs


Brynn S. Shaw

Publication Date



This thesis presents a textual analysis of three zombie-themed video games: Left4Dead, Call of Duty: Zombies, and Killing Floor. The relationship between violence and economics presented in the in-game actions is analyzed to demonstrate that when capitalism is seen as ideological in nature, the zombie-themed games observed can be seen as evidence of the reiteration of that ideology. A gradation of economic systems becomes apparent through a comparison of these video games to the zombie myth presented in film, using a combination of the methods of narrative examination and ludology. The games which imitate the capitalistic market do so by utilizing the money-for-bodies ludic system, where players earn points of money for killing. Money-for-bodies raises questions about the subjectivities that arisein first-person shooter games—as the embedded capitalistic actions within video games which focus on killing leads to a combination of the two subjectivities connected to Empire, the worker-consumer and the citizen-soldier. Violence and economics are also connected through multiplayer interactions where players enact counterplay by committing avatar suicide to financially assist teammates, making life a resource and enacting a type of capitalism with moral haziness.


Zombies, Video games, Capitalism

Document Type




Degree Name

Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Carr, John

Second Committee Member

Umurhan, Osman