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

Date : 16-17 mai 2024
Horaire : 09h00-18h00
Lieu : Maison de l'université | Salle de conférences | Mont-Saint-Aignan

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)


Thursday 16th of May, 2024

9:00 – Registration

9:15 – Welcome

9:30-11:00 – Session 1

  • J. Gutiérrez Carrera (Tampere University), « ‘If not for Bassanio, maybe I would’ve married you instead!’: Character Changes in an Adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in the MMORPG Mabinogi »
  • D. Ten Cate. (Utrecht University), « Genre Repetition as Subversive Adaptation in Elsinore and 80 Days »
  • R. S. Abatangelo (University of Malta – Institute of Digital Games), « Going off script: Playing Shakespeare in Life is Strange: Before the Storm »


11:15-12:45  Session 2

  • S. Mukherjee  (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta), « Jules Verne and Indian Independence: Remediating Postcolonial Science Fiction in Videogames »
  • N. Valdivia Hennig (University of California Riverside), « Cross cultural chronicles Guaman Poma Meets Machiavelli in Pixel Art »
  • P. D’Indinosante (Sapienza University of Rome – University of Silesia), « Playing (Jungle) Books, Going Wild(e): Playful Irreverence in Video Game Adaptations of Kipling and Wilde’ »

12:45-14:15 – Lunch

14:15-15:45 – Session 3

  • B. Pérez Zapata (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), « Storyteller: playful and subversive variations on universal literature »
  • H.-J. Backe (University of Copenhague), « Narrative / Puzzle / Game On Ludo-Narrative Agency Poetics »
  • A. Waszkiewicz (The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin), « What Does It Matter In the End: Interactivity and the Literary Resonance in Video Games Adaptations »

15:45-16:30  Meeting of the GamesLit Board

Dinner in Rouen


Friday 17th of May, 2024

9:00-10:30 – Session 4

  • L. Moyzhes (Charles University), « Forbidden to forbid lack of affordances for creating stories of forbidden love in Warhammer 40 000: Rogue Trader and Dragon Age: Inquisition »
  • R. Longobardi Zingarelli, (Brunel University London/University of Malta), « Attempted subversion: Transgender features and characters in Hogwarts Legacy and Cyberpunk 2077 »
  • P. Sidhu (University of Sidney), « Playing with rules and Boundaries: Adapting George Orwell’s Animal Farm into a Dungeons & Dragons One-Shot »


11:00-12:30 Session 5

  • A. Mochocka, (Kazimierz Wielki University), « Gaming illuminated manuscripts in Inkulinati and Pentiment »
  • B. Dupont & H. Sellier (KU. Leuven -The Seed Crew), « Burn a book – Kill a poem – Plunder Goethe. A biblioclast’s look into the history of media imaginary »
  • M. Fuchs (Institute of Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media), « Text-based Role-Play in the 13th Century »

12:30-14:00 – Lunch

14:00-15:30 – Session 6

  • S. Chatterjee  (University of Delhi), « Reshaping narratives Redefining Legends: A Comparative Analysis of Raji: An Ancient Epic and Devīmāhātmya »
  • A. Klęczar (Jagiellonian University), « Sing of Zagreus, o Muse. The subversion of mythological and literary tradition of ancient Greece and Rome in Hades »
  • B. Pérez Zapata (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), « Fidelity as subversion: La Abadía del Crimen in the context of microcomputer adventure games »


16:00-17:30 – Session 7

  • T. Majkowski, A. Prokopek, M. Kozyra, (Jagiellonian University), « Pan Twardeusz: CD Projekt Red and Polish Mandatory Canon »
  • R. Walczak (Uniwersytet Kazimierza Wielkiego), « Secondary worlds intertextuality and embedding: literary phenomena and narratological devices in Polish game Rex and the Wizards »
  • J. Goh (University of Santo Tomas), « “I was called here by humans who wish to pay me tribute”: Remapping the Gothic and Horror Iterations of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997) in Videogame Discourse »

| Programme de GamesLit2024