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

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

Publié le par Marc Escola (Source : Clément Personnic)

Call for Papers

This year’s Games and Literary Theory conference (16th-17th of May, 2024 – Rouen, France) 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.

Conference organizers: Laura Goudet (University of Rouen and Academic Institute of France) and Clément Personnic (Montreal University)
Program chairs: Joleen Blom (Tampere University) and Emma Reay (University of Southampton)

List of Topics

Although other topics are welcomed, main approaches may include:

  • How do literature inspired elements transform non-literary worlds? (transmedia approach)
  • Do video games move the lines of what is parody or satire? (genre approach, détournements, cf Barnabé 2019)
  • Vandalism as “speaking back” to canonical texts
  • Adaptations of satirical literature in games: what is lost and what is gained?
  • How does subversion/satire/parody transpire in ludo-narrative media?
  • Analyzing the place of satirical and parody games in the literary adaptation game landscape (historical approach?)
  • How are some “iconic” works reprised in various games?
  • Theoretical/systematic papers on adaptation
  • Reverse adaptation: from games to literature?

Submission Guidelines

Abstracts of at least 300 and no more than 700 words (excluding the mandatory bibliography), may be submitted via email (address: gameslit2024@gmail.com) until March 1st. Abstracts will undergo a double-blind review, so submissions must not contain any personal identity information (e.g., references to your own publications must be anonymized). Abstracts will NOT be considered for review if they contain such personal identity information.

Letters of acceptance or rejection may be expected by mid-March and we expect 20-minute presentations, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A.

Please send your questions or comments to Laura Goudet (laura.goudet@univ-rouen.fr or to gameslit2024@gmail.com).

About

Games and Literary Theory Conference (GamesLit) is an annual conference for scholars of literature interested in expanding the scope of literary theory, and game scholars concerned with adapting the methodological and theoretical approaches of literary theory for the study of games.

Previous conferences were held in Malta (2013), Amsterdam (2014), New Orleans (2015), Kraków (2016), Montreal (2017), Copenhagen (2018), Kolkata (2019) and Katowice (2023).

Participation costs

100 EUR – offline participants (tenured lecturers and professors)
50 EUR – doctoral students with financing (from their laboratory/financed PhD programs), untenured researchers
30 EUR – online participants
People from the Global South or unfinanced students may contact Laura Goudet (laura.goudet@univ-rouen.fr) for further inquiries.

Regarding the organizers

Laura Goudet is an associate professor of English linguistics at the University of Rouen and holds a junior chair at the Academic Institute of France. They have published on the intermediality of horror in video games in the 2021 special issue of Romanesquesabout video games and novels.

Clément Personnic is a PhD student at Montreal University. His thesis deals with ludo-narrative relationships in games and their link to the emergence of emotional resonance within the player. He has published on the perspective of using music theory to better understand ludo-narrative concepts in 2022’s ten-year anniversary issue of Science du jeu.

Joleen Blom is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Excellence in Game Culture Studies at Tampere University.

Emma Reay is a Senior Lecturer in Emerging Media at the University of Southampton. Her latest book “The Child in Videogames” was published in 2023.

Bibliography

Aarseth Espen J. 1997. Cybertext : Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Barnabé, Fanny. 2019. « Video Game Détournement: Playing Across Media ». Conference of the Digital Games Research Association

Blanchet, Alexis. 2009. Les synergies entre cinéma et jeu vidéo : histoire, économie et théorie de l’adaptation vidéoludique. PhD Dissertation.

Cutting, Andrew. 2012. « Interiority, Affordances, and the Possibility of Adapting Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw as a Video Game ». Adaptation, vol. 5, no 2 (Sept).

Ensslin Astrid. 2014. Literary Gaming. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Juul, Jesper. 2005. Half-Real. Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Maiore, Cedric. 2023. Football et jeux vidéo. Qui influence qui. Blog de Jacques Blociszewski. URL: https://www.jacquesblociszewski.com/football-et-jeux-video-qui-influence-qui

Murray Janet H. 1997. Hamlet on the Holodeck : The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: Free Press.

Ryan Marie-Laure. 2006. Avatars of Story. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Saint-Gelais, Richard. 2011. Fictions Transfuges : La Transfictionnalité Et Ses Enjeux. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.