October 18th, 2007

Extra, extra, read all about it: video-game version of classic Norse tale makes this ex literature student curious, horrified, and strangely entertained.

I’ll admit my expectations for Beowulf: the Game aren’t high. Things usually turn out bad enough when movies get turned into games. To make matters worse, we’re talking about a book getting turned into a movie getting turned into a game. And not just any book: a 1300-year-old epic poem. Now it’s becoming an action adventure title. You can see why I have my doubts. And those doubts aren’t helped by gruff screenshots or gory, dramatic gameplay footage–even if it is spliced with images of a naked woman.

Still, fellow dorks over at Kotaku claim that the game’s creators are just as worried about staying true to the original. Personally, I’m not so bothered by deviations as I am by a lack of originality. John Gardner took Beowulf and made it existentialist. Grendel gives the finger to God? Great! But I don’t think we’re talking about appropriation here. I think we’re talking about a lack of creative IP. We’ve already re-made every other famous story in history and literature, right? Now all that’s left is Beowulf.

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. All I know is the slow, even painful process of reading that book for realzies feels nothing like the hack and slash I’m seeing in trailers. It’s an epic poem, people. It’s not supposed to be fun.

Tags: books, gripes, new games

8 Responses to “‘Beowulf’ Game Makes Lit Dork Shake Head”

  1. Cybersexy Says:

    Why aren’t epic poems supposed to be fun? :P

  2. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    I suppose it depends on your definition of fun. As a masochist, I guess I can identify with the fun in line after line of line of dense text. I mean, the sheer pain of translating the Aeneid certainly holds a place in my heart :).

  3. Cybersexy Says:

    I will grant you that reading untranslated works of any kind (epic poem or not) is a waste of time, unless you happen to be studying the language. You’ll end up spending more time reading the footnotes than the actual text.

    That said, a good translated epic poem can still be fun to read. I enjoyed Homer’s works. The scene when Odysseus comes home, to find his loyal dog still waiting for him, still puts a tear in my eye. The poor dog is old and blind, but he still recognizes his master. How can you not be touched by something like that?

  4. nectarine Says:

    Has there ever been a game of Moby Dick?
    If there ever is, it should have long cutscenes about whaling that the player will use to go make cups of coffee.

  5. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    That sounds like a proper project.

    As a way to punish my students who are bad, I’m supposed to have some English text for them to copy over while sitting in a corner. I was thinking of taking an excerpt from Moby Dick, just so that some sort of literary sustenance has some chance of seeping in their brains.

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