Monday, February 8, 2010

Literary Classics = VIDEO GAME GENIUS

The other day I saw an advertisement for a new video game: Dante's INFERNO. And I was left speechless. Who thought of this? Who read that and said, "Hey, I've GOT IT, GUYS! VIDEO GAME!"? Who signed off on it?

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!)


storyqueen said...

Um, not that you aren't a GREAT writer or anything, but you totally missed your calling as a video game developer!! This could totally work!

Can't wait to see La Belle Dame sans Merci!

This is the future, baby.

Sarah said...

I am going to laugh about this all day :) (I'm an English major who's still in college) And I think your idea is brilliant! Thanks for the awesome post!

Whirlochre said...

This sounds great, but will it run on an Intel iCore 860 processor (8MB cache) with 8GB 1333Mhz DDR3 memory and an ATI HD5750 1GB graphics card?

If it helps, I'm a Virgo.

Grimmster24 said...

New project on the side, Kiersten? Hahahaha, LOVE it!

Disgruntled Bear said...

Love it. If it ever comes out for Mac, I'll have another thing to suck me away from writing.

Dominique said...


You're a genius. And, yes, I do think that sounds like a good video game. I know some people who'd probably think it rocked.

patdwhite said...

Now I know why you cant sleep at night. You keep blaming it on Dojo, but really your mind just refuses throttle back and let you enjoy blissful slumber.

Megs said...

Brilliant. There's no other word for it!

inthewritemind said...

Awesome. :)

You know, as a fellow English Degree holder, there really are a lot of pieces of literature that could be made into video games. I'm surprised there's nothing based off Shakespeare's plays. :P I'm thinking The Tempest could prove to be a bestseller! I bet you could market that one!

Andrea Cremer said...

I have to say the Dante's Inferno ad during the Superbowl was probably my favorite. That and Doritos ninja.

Mariah Irvin said...

I have to wait until later to read this. I'm in a library and I have a feeling it will make me laugh out loud.

AchingHope said...

This is AMAZING! I could totally see it in my head and I was trying not to laugh in the middle of being at work. Which would be bad.

Lindsey Himmler said...

Don't steal my Keats poem!! I'm totally using that for my current project. Pairing it with machine guns is going to be so much cooler, mine will look lame in comparison.

English majors are nerds, aren't we?

Marsha Sigman said...

Cut back on the Dr. now.

This is really is an awesome

Kiersten White said...

Marsha, I think you won for my favorite comment, ha!

Lindsey, if you need any pointers on poetry explication, clearly I am AMAZING at it!

I'm so glad you'll all buy my game when it comes out!

Elizabeth Poole said...

I read your blog during the Superbowl. Does that make me a nerd? I think so.

I think La Belle Dame sans Merci with a machine gun would be awesome.

Also, kudos to you for writing a post about short people (it's an old post, I I said, read your blog during the Superbowl)! I am VERY short myself, and figure when I do have kids people will look at me and think "Teen pregnancy is on the rise." and shake their heads...

Nice to know there's another really short person out there.

52 Faces said...

Uh...I actually think that game sounds awesome...and I used to work at a video game publisher.

The funny thing is I JUST saw the Dante's Inferno ad yesterday (like Andrea) and it actually gave me chills. But then again, I cried at Encino Man. Twice.

My bf, who still works in video game publishing, thought it was lame. What was with the soul/blues soundtrack? I loved it, but it was weird.

lora96 said...

Very nice.

I would have gone with Tyger, Tyger Burning Bright (think of the gladiator battle scenes! the wild animals we could slaughter in digitized animation) or, my fave, Fire & Ice. In which one must decide which way the world will end and battle the other elemental destructive force to be first to destroy the earth!!!!!

I saw the Inferno ad last night too. What on earth is that about? Who thought this lent itself to interactive gameplay?

lora96 said...

@52faces: The weird soundtrack was the original Bill Withers cut of Ain't No Sunshine. One of my faves. I shouted, "Blatant misuse of great music" when I saw the ad.

Mariah Irvin said...

Mend and Mee?

Love it!

Kayeleen said...

Great! There goes my addictive personality. I've consciously avoided video games, knowing what will happen. How can I avoid something literary, though? And now, when will I find time to write?

roxy said...

Yes to Keats. Definitely. You could also do Tennyson. Maybe Ulysses would be good. Telemachus would be a ninja...I loved this. You are so funny, smart, and creative:)

Liz Czukas said...

What about Moby Dick?! Can't you just see the virtual white whale?! Wouldn't it be perfect? I call Ishmael!

- Liz

Dangerous With a Pen said...

Aww, come on... Dante's Inferno is way too easy. It already has 9 levels. I'm surprised no one made a video game out of it sooner. :)

How about Odysseus?

Or Evangeline??? You could be Evangeline questing for Gabriel. Especially with all of the traveling and getting so close to him without knowing it. Oh, but wait, they'd dress Evangeline like Lara Croft. I think that might kill me.


*MARY* said...

I'm developing a Watership Down video game. Who doesn't like killing obnoxious bunnies?

Carrie Harris said...

Cannot comment. Am too busy laughing hysterically.