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Games and Literary Theory 2024 Conference: “Vandalizing the Classics: Subversion, Parody and Satire in Video Game Adaptations of Literature”

16-17 mai 2024
Université de Rouen Normandie - Rouen (France)

This year’s Games and Literary Theory conference wishes to bring light on the phenomenon of adaptation by the particular lens of subversion, parody and satire. From sports like soccer transposed into games and games implemented into computer games like chess (Juul 2005, p. 49, Maiore 2023) to movie adaptations that started an important synergy between the cinema and video game industry (Blanchet 2009), games as adaptation have been an ongoing topic of interest in the field of (video) games research. For this conference, we want to explore how classic works of literature have been adapted into games with a specific focus on playful irreverence. In what ways do game adaptations of literary texts ‘speak back’ to their source material? When and why are they deferential and when and why are they disruptive? Is subversion and parody always intentional, or is it sometimes an unintended side-effect of adapting a ‘serious’ medium into a ‘playful’ medium? Equally, we are interested in literary adaptations of games – how do these written works ‘take liberties’ with their ludic intertexts? Games have historically been examined under the lens of how they connect to literature (Aarseth 1997; Murray 1997; Ryan 2006) and some scholars even tackled the issue of adaptation more directly (Ensslin 2014). Recent years have brought eyes of the general public upon direct adaptation or continuation of preexisting literary works such as Andrejz Sapkowski’s The Witcher(1986-2013) book series or Dmitry Alekseïevitch Glukhovsky’s Metro (2005-2015). It also happens that famous literary figures can find their way into games such as Sherlock Holmes visiting the Pokémon world in Detective Pikachu (2016-2018) or appearing in games such as The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (2021). We can’t also disregard the many indirect adaptations from movies into games that are originally book themselves such as the Harry Potter franchise or The Lord of the Rings which inevitably links the topic to the question of transmedia and fan studies. Even Final Fantasy 9 (2000) or NieR: Automata (2017) contains spoofs of Shakespeare’s plays, and many board games are adaptations of literary works too. But how do games appropriate works of literature? Do they struggle with their source material, do it justice, or vandalize it in a positive, decolonializing sense? How do games communicate with their classical counterparts and expand (or limit) the way literature is initially able to subvert, parody and critique? The concept of adaptation invites scholars to think about the intermediality and gain/loss between the source and the target work–going as far as to ask whether games adapted into other media (fanfiction, for instance), retain their ludic features, and whether being too straight in adapting leads to edutainment aligned with the source, but rather devoid of playability.
Discipline scientifique :  Littératures

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