Where literature meets video games

Is a new form of storytelling in the making as video games intersect with literature? That is the possibility hinted at in a piece in last week's Telegraph.co.uk. It may seem an unlikely combination, but apparently one of next year's promising video games is "Dante's Inferno," based on the  14th-century Florentine masterpiece "The Divine Comedy."

Don't, however, expect "a faithful interactive representation of the Commedia’s sorrow and pity," warns the Telegraph.

Dante himself appears as "a muscle-bound anti-hero, carving his way through the Nine Circles with a scythe and a cross to liberate his girlfriend from Lucifer."

But that's not to say that the original work disappears. As Dante deals with the damned souls around him, "the disembodied voice of Virgil provides instructive quotations from the poem." Further, "The creators have even promised to recreate the topography of the Inferno, an uncannily good fit for the levels of a computer game."

In short, concludes, the Telegraph, "it sounds like amazingly good fun."

This is not the first time video games and literature have crossed paths. H. P. Lovecraft's story "The Call of Cthulhu" served as the inspiration for a popular video game and elements of Ayn Rand’s "Objectivism" were said to provide the underlying drama for a game called "Bioshock."

But what's perhaps most interesting about all of this, points out the Telegraph, is what it means for the future of fiction. Questions raised "strike at the roots of written narrative." Video gamers, unlike readers, don't simply explore a story scripted by someone else. Instead, they become co-creators.

Does this mean the birth of a new form of storytelling? Perhaps, suggests the Telegraph, which predicts that, if so, the next difficulty will be "trying to think of a new name for the medium."

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