I’ve been interesting the link between gaming and reading for some time now. So, I’m always interested when games that are based on literary classics come out. The latest venture into this area is Dante’s Inferno by Electronic Arts. NPR covered the development of this game a few days ago, perhaps to ease the consciences of their guilt-stricken parents in the audience, who want to think, along with James Gee, that their kids are actually learning things when they play video games. I happen to agree. Here’s Gee:
What’s most interesting about the video game to book comparison, for me, is not the superficial likenesses between the two media. It’s really more about the experience of playing v. the experience of reading a book. My four-year-old, for instances, experiences complete immersion into video games (Lego Star Wars), identifies with the characters he is playing, and narrates other forms of play in terms of video games. That’s pretty interesting–and more than a little like the experience of reading. So maybe, when a game based on The Divine Comedy comes along, I tend to think, optimistically, that games can be played as a way into (or as a way to enrich) reading. This was one of the assumptions driving my dissertation, and this thinking led to the eventual creation of Literary Worlds , a virtual environment (an enCore MOO) where students can play all kinds of literary texts.
My creation, Thoughtcrime (based on 1984) is being played next week by an English class in Ludington. It ain’t exactly blasting your way through Hell, but hey, we’ve gotta start somewhere.