You know literature is really great when it’s adapted not just for stage or screen but for a video-game console as well.
That’s just what game designers did with several works of art, from Greek tragedy to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
And an interactive exhibition on campus—Games by the Book, curated by post-doc Clara Fernández-Vara SM ’04 and Associate Professor Nick Montfort SM ’98—celebrates these page-to-game creations.
The installation features games developed between 1982 and 2011 that use a range of approaches to interpret literature.
The earliest, Avon, was inspired by the works of Shakespeare and integrates characters and settings from the Bard’s plays.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, based on the Douglas Adams book, was created in 1984 and is the only game in the exhibit for which the author participated in the development. Players revisit the events of the book but can alter and transform the story.
Yet One Word, developed by the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab in 2010, asks players to carry out an introspective exercise based on Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus.
And in The Great Gatsby, a platformer game, players assume the role of Nick Carraway as he dodges drunken partygoers and navigates other scenarios in search of Gatsby. The transitions between levels are marked with short cutscenes based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel.
It’s not necessary to have read the works to enjoy the games but for some, like Avon and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it helps. Plus, reading fine literature is good for you.
The exhibition runs through October 8 on the second floor of the Hayden Library on campus. Visitors can play the games there or online.
The exhibit is sponsored by the De Florez Fund for Humor, the MIT Council of the Arts, the MIT Game Lab, and the Electronic Literature Organization and Comparative Media Studies.