09 Jun Computer games as Myth Reconstructions
It took a while but I finally got it done. I’ve read through and corrected/edited my first academic paper, made sure everything is hunky dory and finally published it online. I could swear this was in my New Year’s resolution like at least two years ago. Nevertheless, I am finally proud to announce my first tackle with the academic world – Computer games as Myth Reconstructions. A juicy 80-page essay filled with action, adventure and game drama. And some really exotic stuff you’ll never read anywhere else because it’s all from my head. Also featuring a fragment from Rodel Tapaya’s The Creation Myths on the cover (thanks Google art project).
To associate myths with computer games may at first appear as nonsense, as a random connection between two concepts that loosely stand together. Firstly, because myths are most of the times treated as “cultural realities” that belong to a “traditional and archaic society” (Eliade, 1963:120). Secondly, because computer games are products that emanate exclusively from contemporary society, they represent the ultimate form of digital entertainment and cyber-reality expression. The two concepts seem separated not only by time or space, but by the very nature of the human societies that create them. In my project I will try to build a coherent link between the two apparently incompatible terms and, at the same time, I will try to observe this link on some of the most thorough games of all time, Bioshock and the “indie genre darling” Braid.
The first step in the process is defining “myth”, mainly from the comparative perspective of Campbell (1988) and Eliade (1957), while also trying to link their findings to the rest of the academic literature. The second step is building a theorethical framework that can help in the analysis of computer games, which are a relatively recent academic field of study. Using the theories of Buckingham (2006), Juul (2003), Pearce (2002), Newman (2004) and Aarseth (1998), I will explain what exactly is understood through video games and try to establish whether they are a pure cultural product of the American society. Once light is shed upon these aspects of the project, I will proceed to the actual video game analysis. My main concerns will be whether all computer games replicate myth structures, and to what extent these structures are different from what can be found in traditional forms of media. I will also touch upon the social and cultural aspects of video games and see how gamers play an important part in myth propagation and transformation. The two fundamentally different games will be used in the analysis to trace the point at which games become self-conscious of their mythical role and question their own (sur–)reality.
My conclusions will not simply treat the findings of my project, but also try to predict the future evolution of computer games. My discovery of the casual revolution which video games are going through will give a disturbing twist to my study: have I been talking about reconstruction or deconstruction all along?
The whole paper is hosted on Issuu and you can browse through it below. The full text is not available for download. If you need to use any of my research in your own papers, please quote me accordingly.
Willi KramlPosted at 17:12h, 11 June
And some more information: Willibald Kraml, Elisabeth Werner: Computer-Aventiure. In: Göppinger Arbeiten zur Germanistik, Nr. 479 “Mittelalter-Rezeption III” – Gesammelte Vorträge des 3. Salzburger Symposions: ‘Mittelalter, Massenmedien, Neue Mythen’, p.609-626. Göppingen 1988.