January 23, 2008

Texts that Mimic Videogames

Filed under:Personal, Videogames, Writing — Lake Desire @ 10:39 am

Hey all. I want to pick your brains.

I’m taking a class on intermedia theory, and I’m deciding what to write my final paper on. I’d like to focus on remediation, the theory that new media mimics old form (like ebooks mimicking the printed page). I’m curious if there are any texts out there that mimic videogames. I was thinking about writing about how one could play the novel House of Leaves, and then bring in the DS game Hotel Dusk to discuss a game mimicking the presentation of a book (holding the DS sideways) and genre conventions of a mystery novel. (I haven’t played Hotel Dusk, but it would give me an excuse to check out a new game.)

My question for you all: any other texts (books, movies, games, otherwise) I should check out for my project? PC games are harder for me to play since I’m a Mac user, but I have access to pretty much any DS game, and am willing to rent or buy Wii and PS2 games.



  1. Wait, how can a person play House of Leaves? I just started reading the book and I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

    Hotel Dusk was crappy (like every adventure game since The Longest Journey) but at least it offered some innovations like holding the DS sideways.

    If you’re talking about new media modeling itself after old media conventions, how about you look at something like Call of Duty 4’s heavily-scripted (and utterly brilliant) approach to movie-like cinematic gameplay that’s fully interactive?

    I’m not entirely sure I understand your subject. Shoot me an IM and we’ll talk.

    Comment by Nick (18 comments) — January 23, 2008 @ 12:15 pm

  2. Hey Ariel, are you reading Jay Bolter’s remediation work? He’s one of the professors of my program. I’d like to talk further about your paper, but I have to think on it a bit. You should have my email address in your comment administration if you want to chat.

    Comment by Bobby Bokista (4 comments) — January 23, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

  3. Unfortunately the best candidates I know — “sound novels”, which are basically a video game version of a choose your own adventure — are all in Japanese :(

    Comment by tekanji (32 comments) — January 24, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  4. Wait, you’re asking for “texts that mimic video games”? Are you sure you didn’t mean the other way around?

    Comment by DSimon (11 comments) — January 24, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

  5. Nick: One of my classmates is actually writing on Call of Duty 4 in the same class. I’ll keep you posted on his work. Reading House of Leaves seems a bit more engaging than simple reading, since the book’s layout demands a bit more engagement. (Yeah, DSimon, I did mean it that way!)

    Bobby: Will email. I’ll check out your prof’s work.

    tekanji: No worries.

    Comment by Lake Desire (208 comments) — January 25, 2008 @ 9:36 am

  6. Sounds like it should be really interesting! I don’t know if this would help at all, but I once wrote for a poetry workshop a poem about Resident Evil 4. My professor, a very studied and brilliant man who knows the classics like the back of his hand said that the plot of the game (or at least what I focused on in the poem) struck him as in the same vein of Beowolf. He was pleased that games seem to retell (with variations of course) the epic struggles of humankind. Reading about your project reminded me of that.

    Comment by 100littledolls (46 comments) — January 25, 2008 @ 7:01 pm

  7. Well… the first PS2 game that comes to mind when I think “literary” is Prince of Persia : The Sands of Time. The entire game is played within the frame of the Prince telling the player a story. Both the in-game Prince and the narrator Prince do a lot of exposition (to the player and to himself, respectively) to move the story along, often without interrupting game play.

    Also, when you fail, the screen fades to mist and the Prince as narrator says something along the lines of “No, wait, that’s not the way it went… let me try telling that part again” before reloading that stage.

    Specifically relating to “mimicking old media”, another game that comes to mind is MGS3. It directly apes the style of old spy movies. Also, it has a lot of fun breaking the fourth wall and messing with the player’s expectations of typical game mechanics. For example, you can defeat a certain boss by saving during the fight, and then waiting a week in real life before resuming: the boss will have died of old age in the interim.

    Comment by DSimon (11 comments) — January 25, 2008 @ 11:40 pm

  8. Oh, and also a book I recommend checking out: Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. A good half of the story takes place within a book-like video game, the Illustrated Primer, which serves as both entertainment for the main character and as her primary source of education. There’s also a lot of very interesting and cool stuff about possible intersections between video games and theater.

    Which is not to say that the book doesn’t have its issues, particularly from a feminist perspective, but it’s been one of the most memorable and striking books I’ve ever read when it comes to thinking about games and design.

    Comment by DSimon (11 comments) — January 27, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

  9. I LOVE Diamond Age. One of my favorite books. Problematic in gender, yeah, but does some cool things with gender at the same time.

    I’m actually reading Snow Crash for my first time right now, too. It’s great so far. Stephenson isn’t oblivious to gender and race, and so far (only 60 pages in) he seems rather critical of contemporary sexism in geek culture and racism in general through his humor.

    Comment by Lake Desire (208 comments) — January 28, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

  10. Snow Crash is good stuff. I didn’t get into the Metaverse elements as much as many other geeky people did, but I really really want to do some highway surfing YT-style. Provided I also get one of those crash suits… road rash not so hot an idea.

    Have you also had a chance to check out Cryptonomicon? That’s my favorite Stephenson book.

    Comment by DSimon (11 comments) — January 29, 2008 @ 1:10 am

  11. I haven’t yet, but I will! I bought Cryptonomicon recently at a used bookstore. I’ve been putting it off because of the length (and knowing I SHOULD be reading the stuff on my program’s reading list), but one of these days I’ll get to it.

    Comment by Lake Desire (208 comments) — January 29, 2008 @ 11:57 am

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