February 20, 2012 by Amanda Visconti

Ulysses the Video Game and Anachronistic Linati Schema!

Matt Schneider presented an fun thought experiment on his blog* about a year ago: if someone created a Ulysses video game, what technics would we use to parallel the style peculiar to each section of the novel? For Proetus, Matt proposed "First Person Stream-of-consciousness, akin to that seen in Stout Games' IGF nominated Dinner Date"; for Ithaca, a "catechism based on Joseph Weizenbaum's classic ELIZA".

I'm a Ulysses nerd and both a game and textual studies scholar, so I had to jump into the thought experiment. The following are the ideas I've come up with (some of them I brainstormed during a "Literary ARG" session I led at THATCamp Games):

  • Telemachus: Pikmin. Has that "the day is new" feel, and perhaps you could parallel picking up strange new objects to picking up on Stephen's various preoccupations and annoyances.
  • Nestor: Some sort of annoying pedantic training sequence. Maybe a Civ(3?) mod that models Ireland vs. England that forces you to sit through a frustratingly superior tutorial first?
  • Lotus Eaters: Something that rewards you for lazier playing, like Don't Shoot the Puppy?
  • Sirens: Oh boy. A Guitar Hero/Rock Band/karaoke clone?
  • Cyclops: Model the Citizen on one of the colossi from Shadow of the Colossus?
  • Nausicaa: ...Japanese dating sim?
  • Circe: I think a light world/dark world mechanic like that used in Link to the Past or Trilby's Notes might work well towards emphasizing the real/unreal in Circe.
  • Ithaca: Matching questions and answers a la Monkey Island insult duels.

It was time to pull these back here form the comments on Matt's blog, because on Wednesday I'll be expanding on the idea with a "Anachronistic Linati Schema" lesson plan for teaching Ulysses. I'll be substitute-teaching for Professor Brian Richardson's English 428 undergraduate seminar on Ulysses, and since we'll be discussing the "Hades" section (right before THE INELUCTABLE HEADLINES of Aeolus), we're at a good point to stand back and think about how the less-obvious style changes we've encountered so far are both responding to and shaping the narrative. The plan is to share these videogame ideas, then have students choose a media category with which they're familiar (music, movies, books--or even better would be individual games within genres, or subgenres within genres). After putting these up on a grid together, we'll look for similarities among the choices. I'll report back on Wednesday with what we find!

*: Post now defunct, but check out Matt's blog!