And, more importantly, how can I cash in on this trend?
Initially I was going to adapt Paradise Lost, but it felt too obvious to have Satan as the hero, fighting to overthrow the totalitarian government. Le Morte d'Arthur, yawn, everyone's already done Arthur and his boring table. The Canterbury Tales had promise, but one can only deal with the Wife of Bath so long before realizing she has no video game potential whatsoever.
Then it hit me--I'm taking it one step further! Instead of adapting a classic piece of literature, I'm going to turn a classic poem into a video game!
I give you, "Batter my heart, three person'd God," written by John Donne and adapted for violent mayhem by Kiersten White. For my presentation, I'll post the poem and give directions for how it'll play out.
"Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;"
Set in the idyllic town of My Heart, our hardy peasants go about their lives, ignoring the entreaties of their peaceful deity. Until one day it becomes too much, and he becomes the Three Person'd God--two legs, but three torsos and heads! One of fire, one of ice, and one of solid rock. Sure, it makes no sense with the poem considering Donne was a devout Catholic referencing the Holy Trinity, but just imagine how freaking awesome it's going to look!
So watch out, My Heart. Three Person'd God is seriously ticked, and he's about to come battering!
"That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee, and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new."
Our hero, young Mend, must dodge the destruction as the town is destroyed around him. Watch the villagers run in terror, lit on fire, trampled, and sucked up into tornados!
"I, like an usurpt towne, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,"
On the second level, Mend must complete a series of tasks to try and make peace with the terrible Three Person'd God, including conquering the next town and converting them. His weapons include whips, pitchforks, and a catapult. A FLAMING catapult!
"Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely I love you, and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:"
On the third level, we learn that Mend's true love, Mee, has been captured by enemies! Overcome with guilt for running out of the village and leaving her behind, he must retrieve her before her betrothal ends in a marriage to the rival village leader. He calls upon his allies, Reason and Viceroy, to help. Reason is the wind personified, and Viceroy is a clever talking cow (also providing comic relief with numerous carbon monoxide emissions jokes).
"Divorce mee, untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee,"
On level four, Mee has been successfully retrieved--but too late! Now Mend must not only dodge the fiery darts and crushing stones of the angry Three Person'd God, but find a magistrate who hasn't run yet so he can divorce Mee from Mend's enemie! And, in the meantime, also find the only safe place to hide Mee, the local prison. But with the entire town covered in ice, that's easier said than done!
"For I, Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor chast, except you ravish mee."
On level five, rather than deal with the graphic literal interpretation of the final lines (and get an M for Mature rating, which we'll avoid to try and draw the family crowd), we change them to, "Nor chased, except you radish mee." It's revealed through Viceroy the Clever Talking Cow that the only way to appease the Three Person'd God is by pelting the fairest maiden of the land--Mee--with radishes! Now it's race to see who can collect the most radishes and pelt poor (but remarkably swift) Mee with them before the Three Person'd God destroys the town once and for all.
So! What do you think? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I've got a future in the video game industry. Next up for adaptation? John Keats' La Belle Dame sans Merci--But with a Machine Gun!
(Kiersten White: Making her English Degree proud since 2004!)