Paweenwat Thongprasop (LL.B. from Thammasat University) is an independent queer legal scholar and literary critic. His research focuses on Thai legal studies, law and humanities, comparative literature, constitutionalism, international economic law, and environmental law, often through posthuman and postcolonial lenses. In 2021, he received the M. L. Boonlua Thepyasuwan Award for Literary Criticism. Currently, he is affiliated with the BioThai Foundation and advocates for community rights, biodiversity, and food sovereignty as a researcher. E-mail: paweenwat.th@gmail.com


The Hero’s Journey in Green Pixels: Folk Ecologies, Topophilia, and the Environmental Legal Culture in the RPG Game SanThai: New Legend

Abstract: This paper explores the 2D side-scrolling RPG video game SanThai: New Legend through the lenses of game studies, affective ecocriticism, and critical legal studies, within the context of posthumanism in Southeast Asia. Using elements of Thai folklore, SanThai: New Legend incorporates unique mechanics and a narrative structure that immerses players in a world designed to cultivate a posthuman environmental consciousness. By engaging players with ecological affects and offering ways of dealing with ecologies in more sustainable ways, the game aims to foster what Yi-Fu Tuan coined as “topophilia” or an affective bond among its players with the environment. Through an analysis of the game’s mechanics, this research uncovers implications for environmental legal culture, illustrating how video games can shape players’ comprehension of environmental law and policy, and contribute to cultivating a posthuman environmental legal culture. Furthermore, the environmental narrative and the universal hero’s journey plot in SanThai: New Legend convey sustainability messages that transcend cultural boundaries, encouraging players to engage with posthuman environmental ethics and reimagine their relationship with the more-than-human world. This study highlights the transformative potential of digital games in cultivating a posthuman environmental legal culture, fostering ecological awareness, and inspiring alternative modes of environmental engagement and activism in Southeast Asia and beyond.
Keywords: affective ecocriticism, video games, critical legal studies, Thai folklore, environmental legal culture