The Broodmother as Monstrous-Feminine

Abject Maternity in Video Games


  • Sarah Stang York University



video games, monstrous-feminine, maternal, abject, motherhood, Dragon Age: Origins (2009), Dragon Age: Origins—Awakening (2010), StarCraft series (1998–2017)


This article examines examples of the monstrous-feminine in the form of abject maternal monsters in a selection of commercially successful and critically acclaimed mainstream video games using conceptual frameworks and textual analysis methods established in the work of Julia Kristeva and Barbara Creed. The Broodmother from Dragon Age: Origins (2009) and the Mother from Dragon Age: Origins—Awakening (2010) are considered as problematic examples of the abject monstrous-feminine which fall into a long tradition in horror media of framing the female body and the birthing process as something horrific and repulsive. Kerrigan from the StarCraft series (1998–2017) is examined as a possible counter-example, demonstrating that the monstrous-feminine can exist in a playable and potentially empowered form, though she is problematically empowered within a violent, militant framework. Overall, this article critically analyses the ways in which video games remediate tropes of gendered monstrosity and reinforce the misogynist norms and values of hegemonic heteropatriarchal ideology by forcing players to enact symbolic violence against transgressive female bodies.

Author Biography

Sarah Stang, York University

is a PhD candidate in the Communication & Culture program at York University in Toronto, Canada. She is also the editor-in-chief of Press Start and the essays editor for First Person Scholar. She approaches the study of digital games and other media from an interdisciplinary, intersectional feminist perspective. Her current research explores the representation of non-normative and marginalized bodies in both digital and analog games.


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How to Cite

Stang, Sarah. 2019. “The Broodmother As Monstrous-Feminine: Abject Maternity in Video Games”. Nordlit, no. 42 (November):233–256.