Sunday, May 21, 2006

Lit and Myth in Video Games

On the postmodern medievalism front, Douglas Perry has a fascinating article entitled "The Influence of Literature and Myth in Videogames," which talks about how medieval literature and mythology makes its way into video games, mostly mediated through Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, and the like. My favorite quote, mostly because of the blatant postmodernity of it, is by Amy Hennig, designer of the Soul Reaver series (which I've not played):
In the Soul Reaver series, I focused on a handful of core ideas -- but the main
theme revolved around the question of free will in a universe apparently ruled
by fate. I saw both Kain and Raziel as Oedipus figures (Sophoclean, not
Freudian), being railroaded by fate and all the while fighting for their free

If you don't understand the distinction she makes between Sophoclean and Freudian Oedipal figures ... well, guess you should have stayed awake in World Lit class. But, hey, all those classes you took in computer science (while neglecting your math and English) will prepare you for an exciting career in writing code, or maybe even data entry!

h/t Bourgeois Nerd


  1. Anonymous11:23 PM

    "Sophoclean" in that their lives are controlled by fate (And not "Freudian," since they didn't want to get it on with Mommy). Is that right? (I majored in CS, too.)

    I can't believe that an article about Medievalism in video games wouldn't mention Sony's Final Fantasy series -- in every single game, you eventually end up summoning "Odin" for some reason or another.

  2. "Summoning" Odin? Awfully subservient for a god, isn't he?

  3. The All-Father cannot be summoned, bah! The Final Fantasy series shows just how close to Ragnarok we have come, when mere mortals believe they have the power to influence the gods.

    Little do Cloud and his companions know it is the Trickster nature of the All-Father that allows them to believe they can influence the great power.

    Enow, I say.

  4. Anonymous10:52 PM

    you know, you're right. Now that I remember it, everytime you perform it in Final Fantasy IX it's more like a "request for his presence" than an actual summons, since the damage he does to your enemies varies between colossal and nothing.