Vampires in Video Games: Mythic Tropes for Innovative Storytelling
Keywords:vampires, videogame analysis, game studies, storytelling, myths, Pontianak, Tropics, liminal
AbstractThis paper discusses traditional vampire tropes as a tool for innovation and novel experiences in the history of video games. A selection of games and vampires will be analysed in terms of gameplay and storytelling elements to show how the rich mythology and folklore that characterises these liminal beings can be successfully employed in a variety of settings and contexts. We draw on examples from the early days of video games with titles like “Dracula” (Imagic for Intellivision, 1982) set in a virtual London and evoking European folklore, to the rich possibilities offered by “Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines” (Activision for PC, 2004) which conjures up the sub-tropical New Orleans vampire tradition, and then turn to the latest experimental games using the example of “Tainted” (ITE/NUS for PC, 2016), which taps into the rich Pontianak vampire-ghost myths of the Malay Archipelago. Different experiences will be discussed via explanatory lenses – such as Labov’s (1972, 1997) narrative analysis and the AGE/6-11 framework (Dillon, 2010, 2016) – to gain insights into how to build compelling myth-based narrative in games in original and surprising ways. The paper also analyses how specific vampire myths reflect socio-cultural issues of particular times and places. Thus, every telling of such myths – whether though oral tales, novels, cinema, or video games – brings the myth alive to engage with liminal or repressed aspects of a society.
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