What follows is an essay about Knight Solaire, a character from Dark Souls 1. The essay discusses his metatextual influence, his symbolic import, and a few theories about his supposed fate in Dark Souls 3. It was originally published Jan 31, 2019.

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On the Nature of Headcanon Canon as a concept adopts different rules when it comes to videogames. More concretely than in other artforms, the content of the game changes according to its witness. You can’t account for another person’s playthrough, so you are obligated to trust their story — within reason. A player can tell you that they…


Essay on fringe gamer fanart, originally published Oct 2018

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Talking about a development in the Mario universe is really a fool’s errand. Mario is a brand that is pure surface, pure fun; everything in its design and presentation is meant to serve the user experience. It is not written the way a novel or a movie is; nor are the characters expected to reflect the psychological depth of characters in those idioms. The world of Mario is constructed to invite people in as easily as possible, to present a safe, simple canvas for the player’s identification. Mario does not have…


This essay presents a model for use in interpreting the world of Dark Souls 3. It is a hidden structure that is apparently relatively unknown even among lorekeepers, but is very useful in making sense of the surreal environments of this game and its mythologies. The purpose here is to present the model on its own terms, and hopefully it is of use to whoever is interested in deepening their understanding of Souls lore and symbolism. Originally published June 2019.

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There are three forks in Dark Souls 3: three major crossroads where the player has the option to go higher…


The Undead Settlement is the only area in Dark Souls 3 that is a literal, physical location. All else is imaginary.

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Quick Argument for Dark Souls as a Psychic Space It is quite easy to look at the map of Dark Souls as psychic terrain. Its deeply archetypal levels evoke the landscapes of the mind: you will find entire environments devoted to single themes, abrupt blockages between related places, and unexplained portals to incongruous territory. Enemies, characters and treasure always seem to reflect the motif of their area, as if they grew out of the ground there. Unlike most other…


How are games impressed on the player?

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Last year while working in a kitchen I noticed that certain actions that I performed regularly had become hotkeyed in my mind. This should come as no surprise! Our lives are filled with rote actions performed automatically. But I also noticed that in my thoughts, the term “hotkey” was tightly affixed to this phenomenon. Somehow a strong parallel had been drawn unconsciously between the use of hotkeys in applications, and the repeated gestures of the job. …


What follows is a short essay on the Drake Sword, a weapon from Dark Souls 1. This essay attempts to understand the symbolism of this weapon: where it comes from and why it works the way it does. It was originally published in Oct 2017.

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The Drake Sword is an OP weapon found early and easily in the game. It is obtained by cutting off the tail of the Hellkite Drake who guards the bridge in the Undead Burg near the beginning of the game. The Hellkite Drake is an overpowering beast who is nigh-unconquerable for most new players; when…


(Originally published Sept 2017)

Game-entrainment is psychosimulation therapy. It describes any act of participation in a game whose effects extend into the unconscious mind of the player. To an extent, all gaming is entrainment. Whether the player is dropping blocks, zapping aliens, or kicking balls, they are, in different measure, inhabiting these games. When the player partitions part of their mind into the game world, and actions are performed upon that projected part, those actions affect the whole of the psyche. This is the basic premise of alchemy, and much has been written about the participation mystique in theater, dance…

M Stenbæk

myth | psychology | astrology | Dark Souls

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