Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dante's Inferno: The videogame

We literary types are a snooty lot. We wonder, sometimes, which planet video-gamers are from, or if they even can be classified as intelligent life form. Of course, since we have no time for these 'childish games' we have little idea how sophisticated they can get, and even if we do, we would still question, condescendingly, their contribution towards the advancement of the human race and civilization.

Okay. While no Nobel prizes are about to be awarded for this genre anytime soon, this headline in caught my attention: Dante's Inferno proves it: Classic literature is a videogame gold mine. Really?

The story says that Electronic Arts has made a videogame of Dante Alighieri’s epic adventure through the circles of hell, to be played on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Now, the development team is looking at other classic literary works for inspiration. Wow! I may become a gamer yet.

From the video commercial, it does look awesome. But what do I know? I am most definitely not a gamer, and this could very well be one of those 'been there, done that' type as far as videogames go. The Wired review more or less says that. Gus Mustrapa calls this hack-and-slash action game 'derivative'. Apparently, it 'pilfers' every nuance from God of War, a game by Sony. Still, Mastrapa calls it a 'ballsy take on literature ...' with "phallic imagery that ... is about as blue as you'll ever see in a videogame that isn't rated Adults Only."

Mastrapa adds, 'The game's best moment is when it goes big. The reveal of Dis, the massive city of the dead, is striking: Just before Dante batters down the doors and starts trashing the place, the camera pulls back to reveal the citadel's smouldering walls. Dante, atop a giant demon, is dwarfed by this metropolis of the damned. Hell feels like a big, big place brimming with unfortunate souls.

"The Old Testament morality of Dante's Inferno got into my head after hours of sin and punishment. By the time I made it to the final circle, where traitors, liars and politicians suffer, I made a mental note to do my best to be nice to others. After centuries, fire and brimstone
still do the trick."

I, so, want to play this game!

Oddest book title award, again

Father  ChristmasApparently, they received a record number of submissions for this year's The Bookseller's annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title. The shortlist will be announced on February 19 (later this week). This will be followed by a public vote to determine the winner. 90 submissions came in this year.

Among the titles in contention this year are: Advances in Potato Chemistry and Technology, Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich, An Intellectual History of Cannibalism, The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin, Dental Management of Sleep Disorders and Mickey Mouse, Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Scientific and academic titles will always sound weird to everyone else. Personally, I think they should not be allowed to participate, but I admit they can sound funny, like the following: The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Curbside Consultation in Cornea and External Disease, Food Digestion and Thermal Preference of Toad, and Map-based Comparative Genomics in Legumes.

Then there are these: The Origin of Faeces, Peek-a-poo: What's in Your Diaper?, Venus Does Adonis While Apollo Shags a Tree, Father Christmas Needs a Wee, and Is the Rectum a Grave?.

You can read the whole list and pick your own favourites from The Bookseller website.

The Bookseller