If you happen to be in Durham on 15th November, I'm giving a seminar on video games and literary studies, as part of the new Digital Humanities Durham
series. This is going to be quite a polemical discussion, outlining where (as I see it) literary scholars have got things wrong about video games - and how we can start to put things right. It may be of interest to anyone looking at histories of literary theory, video games, and theorising the difficulties of interdisciplinary or intermedial studies more generally. Abstract is below; more details here
On the face of it, the ways video games and literature tell stories may seem to be very different: video games are multimedia and interactive works, whereas literature is largely text based and plotted in a way that is predefined by an author. Nevertheless, in the 1990s literary scholars were among the first to incorporate game studies within the university context, colonising games on behalf of the discipline of English. Like all colonisations, though, the trading partnership was one-sided; early English scholars were keen to show what they could do for games, but less interested in what games could do for literary scholarship. While the digital humanities in general have seen digital practices radically reshape the methods employed by the humanities, an archaeological study of literature and game studies will uncover few attempts to consider how the study of video games might teach us to think differently about traditional literature itself. This talk will illustrate how literary scholars can modify their practices and methodologies, treating interdisciplinarity and intermediality as a two-way exchange of knowledge and ideas between video games and literature. In particular, it will show how game theory can be applied back to literature, and will demonstrate how the development of game adaptations of literary texts could provide a means of literary critique.
Labels: interdisciplinarity, intermediality, literature, theory, video games