Vampires in Video Games: Mythic Tropes for Innovative Storytelling




vampires, videogame analysis, game studies, storytelling, myths, Pontianak, Tropics, liminal


This 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.

Author Biographies

Roberto Dillon, James Cook University

Originally from Italy, Dr Roberto Dillon is an Associate Professor at James Cook University Singapore lecturing Game Design and Project Management classes. His research focuses on game analysis and history and he has written several books on these topics published by AKPeters, CRC Press and Springer. As a game designer, his games were selected for international festivals like Sense of Wonder Night in Tokyo and FILE Games in Rio de Janeiro, among others.

Anita Lundberg, James Cook University

Associate Professor Anita Lundberg is a cultural anthropologist whose research engages people and places of South East Asia. Her work concerns the lived experiences of tropical liminal spaces. Anita’s projects include ethnographies in Singapore, and previously, Malaysia and Indonesia.  Anita has received awards for outstanding teaching, research supervision, and innovative research and has held numerous international fellowships. She has curated exhibitions in Singapore, NY, LA, Paris and Sydney and her own research, theoretical, and artistic works have been exhibited at the Australian National Maritime Museum, the National Art Gallery of Malaysia and Alliance de Française. Anita has a PhD from the University of New South Wales, Australia and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow with Cambridge University, UK.


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How to Cite

Dillon, R., & Lundberg, A. (2017). Vampires in Video Games: Mythic Tropes for Innovative Storytelling. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 16(1).