Gaming News, Game Reviews, Game Trailers, Tech News

Contest: Win a Nintendo Switch from Destructoid
PC   |   SWITCH   |   PS4   |   XBOX   |   SCORPIO   |   3DS   |   VITA   |   VR   |   JP   |   FILM   |   TOYS   |   MOB

dergrimnebulin blog header photo
Posts 0Blogs 7Following 8Followers 0



Gaming and Fine Literature

I have two passions in life: video games and fine literature. For years now, Iíve waited for a good meeting point for these two art forms, with no luck. To me, it seems like classic literature is a ripe crop ready for video game developers to come a-picking. There are some of the greatest stories that have ever been conceived of, already fully fleshed-out and ready to be digitized. Of course, not every novel would translate well. My favorite work of prose, Vladimir Nabokovís still controversial Lolita, would be the most disturbing videogame this world has ever seen. But there are many that would work perfectly and even fit it with some of the styles that are prevalent today. While this is a fairly obvious fact, there have been few attempts, and no true successes. This can easily be seen by taking a look at the highest profile game based on a work of classic literature; Visceral Gamesí 2010 game Danteís Inferno.

Danteís Inferno is based on, obviously, 14th Century poet Dante Alighieriís epic poem The Divine Comedy. The Divine Comedy is a work that has many levels: that of a political satire; that of a theological allegory; that of a manís search for meaning to his life. It is a masterfully crafted story, full of subtlety and imagination, and, as such, is one of the most highly regarded works of literature of all time. Danteís Inferno took a decidedly different path on the story. Dante is a general in the Crusades, as opposed to a poet. He is raging against the demons of the Inferno, rather than being led through as a passive observer, searching for a way through life, as he is in the poem.

The largest departure, however, is the character of Beatrice. In reality, Beatrice was Dante Alighieriís muse, a woman (technically, girl) that he worshipped from afar, although they only met twice during the course of his life. In The Divine Comedy, Beatrice is Danteís salvation; she initiated Danteís trip through the three realms of the afterlife, and ultimately is his guide through the realm of Paradise, where Dante finds the answers he has been looking for. However, in the videogame, Beatrice is the standard ďdamsel in distressĒ figure; Dante, who was in a relationship with Beatrice when she was taken by demons, tears through the Inferno to save her from Lucifer. Gone is the idea of Beatrice as savior; Dante is actually her savior. This, in my eyes, is the major issue. I understand that certain liberties must be taken to make a decent game; I can see that a wisp of a poet does not make for a good lead videogame character, at least by todayís standards. But the issue of Beatrice is a complete subversion of the source material; it carries a completely different message than the original story. This, and the complete lack of artful storytelling, is why I feel that it fails as a good interpretation of classic literature.

There are few other attempts worth talking about. American McGeeís Alice is a pretty interesting take on Aliceís Adventures in Wonderland, but it changes the story and meaning of the book to such an extent as to make it almost unrecognizable. However, a majority of videogames that are based on books are, in reality, based on movies, such as The Lord of the Rings games and Mary Shelleyís Frankenstein. While a few of the LotR games are decent, they draw most of their inspiration from the movies, which have already taken liberties with the novels. However, there were some made in the mid-80s and the early 90s which were based on the books. I have yet to play these, so Iíd love to hear from someone who has. Other than that, classic literature seems to have a negligible part to play in the videogame medium, other than working as an artistic inspiration.

However, I believe that there are a multitude of works that could make wonderful games, with minimal tweaks. Here are just a few examples:

The Odyssey- This would lend itself to a God of War style game. It already has the levels and bosses laid out: the Cyclops, Circe, the Lotus-Eaters, etc. This one is a pretty obvious choice.

1984- A book about a dystopian future where everything and everybody is tightly controlled, both in mind and body. With just a few tweaks, this could fit right in with all the other dystopian games we have.

All Quiet on the Western Front- This would make a wonderful first-person shooter, similar to Call of Duty. It would concentrate much more heavily on the impact that war has on the soldiers, and how it changes a person when it's all over. It also has potential for an ending that could blow Red Dead Redemption out of the water.

The Count of Monte Cristo- A classic tale of revenge, this could easily be adapted to an extremely interesting RPG or adventure game with the potential of having one of the best main characters ever.

And there are many more where these came from: The Iliad, Heart of Darkness, The Three Musketeers, Gulliverís Travels, Don Quixote, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and pretty much anything by Shakespeare. Any of these could easily be adapted while keeping the soul of the story intact. And Iím quite sure that there are many more that I canít recall at the moment.

I respect creativity and innovation, and thatís one of the things I love about videogames; the industry is still pumping out new ideas all the time. However, thereís something to be said about the classic stories. They have been read as long as they have for good reason; they speak to people. They make their readers contemplate their own situation, and, sometimes, re-think their lives. A great piece of literature can literally change your life, however clichť it sounds. I honestly think that the videogame industry is missing a great opportunity by overlooking the classics as a game concept. Fine literature has the potential to help create a gaming experience that is all too rare; a game that speaks to your soul; that can change the way you think about things. All Iím trying to say is, why not?
Login to vote this up!


CelicaCrazed   1
fulldamage   1
Elsa   1
Ben Davis   1
Shredded Angel   1
dergrimnebulin   1
Dwavenhobble   1



Please login (or) make a quick account (free)
to view and post comments.

 Login with Twitter

 Login with Dtoid

Three day old threads are only visible to verified humans - this helps our small community management team stay on top of spam

Sorry for the extra step!


About dergrimnebulinone of us since 5:22 PM on 08.28.2011

Hello, my friends. How are you doing tonight? What's that? It's not night? Are you sure? Do me a favor. Check your face. Sunglasses? No? Is your name Ray Charles? Christ, what's going on here? Screw it. I had an awesome "about me" planned, but until you are willing to just admit that it, in all actuality, is indeed nighttime, you can go straight to hell.

But I will throw out some of my favorite games.
Chrono Trigger
Final Fantasy VI
Red Dead Redemption
Harvest Moon SNES
Portal 1 and 2
Illusion of Gaia
Katamari Damacy
Any Metroid game

There are more, but these are definitely my top games of all time.
Xbox LIVE:idergrimnebulin
PSN ID:dergrimnebulin


Around the Community






Read Huge: Top Stories