Video Games and the Literary (Part 1) (Panel)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Ana Oancea (University of Delaware)

Roderick Cooke (Villanova University)

This panel will explore the many existing and potential connections between video games and the literary world. Many leading games have explicitly referred to works of literature, either within their storyworlds or in their marketing (for instance, Bioshock’s interactive rebuttal of Ayn Rand’s ideas). More broadly, emerging video game theory has often defined itself either by analogy or by opposition to existing concepts from literary theory. Book genres such as the choose-your-own adventure format (eg. Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! series) have also anticipated video gaming, and in turn been remastered as games using the same text and narrative structure. Character types such as the detective, the explorer, the inventor, and the damsel in distress have been reimagined in interactive media. Meanwhile, formal and technical aspects such as episodic publication, metalepsis, and point of view are often modified by video game creators when compared with their literary antecedents. Questions of mimesis are also enriched by considering the distinction between verbal description and computer graphics.

Submissions are welcome on any aspect of the relationship between gaming and literature. We encourage approaches that read specific games in connection with their literary sources and intertexts, as well as theoretical takes on both convergences and differences between how the two media construct stories and communicate with their audiences. In light of literary-critical approaches such as reader response theory, the literary also stands to gain from the new insights into narrative offered by the rise of gaming as a cultural and commercial force. This panel will offer a forum for an interdisciplinary group of scholars to share insights and promote lasting dialogue.

We invite papers exploring connections between video games and the literary world. We encourage approaches that analyze specific games, as well as theoretical takes on how the two media construct stories and communicate with their audiences. Scholars researching medium-specific questions of representation (notably of race and gender) will be especially welcome.