Major Project #5 - how games incorporate mythology - analysis
Aktualizacja: maj 26
While speaking about myths and mythology, it is worth mentioning the term symbolism, as I feel like this is going to be the most common feature implemented in the game design. Myths are such a universal thing to talk about - in several cultures they present many similarities so that people involved in the conversation can understand the other side even if they know different mythology. This aspect makes myths and symbolism such a tempting feature that can be added to any story. It also gives players a way of standing out of the crowd with the thought "I've noticed the reference here!" that will enhance his gaming experience.
As discussed in my previous post, mythology is such a broad term and the majority of people have some kind of knowledge of it. Either they have learned about it at school or find out more via mainstream media such as film or literature. I decided to do research on how different developers implemented mythology elements in theirs narratives and how they ended up implementing that in the final products. To do that, I've used itch.io website as they have a really broad variety of independent developers. I also tried to pick games on all levels of advancement but I focused on smaller games. From them, I could actually use similar solutions.
Skyrim is actually one of my favorite games of all time. Of course, I can't compare my game to their production, but the way they executed the narrative was excellent. The game is based on many different elements, but the main inspiration was Norse Mythology and Scandinavian and Germanic folklore. Various ancient crypts throughout Skyrim with names like Ustengrav sound a lot like Scandinavia. While playing Skyrim, the player can meet different creatures on their way such as giants who, in Norse Mythology, used to exist and walked the earth and dragons, which play a huge role in Skyrim's storytelling. As the main character, throughout the story, we learn Words of Power, which can also relate to Finnish mythology. It is interesting to see how these elements came from a totally different source than we would expect. The designers made sure to create a very distinguished atmosphere in the game, keeping everything in the cold color palette which, again, can relate to Scandinavian mythologies.
God of War is a very successful game worldwide. In contrast to some the other games, I'm mentioning in this post, this game is not fully based on mythology. On the contrary, they implemented only a few references that play an important role throughout the gameplay such as a character turning people into stone (Medusa's head reference).
Eikon, Apothen, and the Mooseman like many other games, were very direct in the translation of Greek mythology. Everything starting with the color palette, platform and character design to the font (sacred carvings or hieroglyphs) used both in the actual game and on the game's website was fully taken from the inspiration. There was no changes made to any of the elements. Only the Mooseman game tries to add some kind of the cartoony elements in the way they designed the world. They also have a simple explanation on their website that says "The mechanics are simple: all the levels have two sides - one that exists in the human world and one that exists in a spirit world. They are separated but interact in some way or another. The Mooseman has the ability to traverse across both worlds." This seems true for many games, having this 'two sides of the world' aspect to it.
Once again, a very successful title that adapts the Iñupiaq story, "Kunuuksaayuka." "Known as Never Alone, “[p]layers will control young female protagonist Nuna and her arctic fox as they try to rescue her homeland from an endless blizzard,” says Kotaku. “The upcoming video game will... hold [the Alaskan community's] culture, artwork and folktales in a vessel designed to carry a sense of the Inuit spirit far away from their southcentral Alaskan homeland.”
I think what makes games a unique medium is that the way they present the referenced material is fully up to the developers and designers. Even if for some games which are more reduced in narrative setting, symbols are just as important. What I've quickly noticed was the fact that the majority of these games were referencing only the Ancient Greek mythology and, especially the indie developers, were using their inspirations as a foundation for the whole gameplay, not even changing small elements. In my case, I think I prefer to implement subtle references and still give the players freedom and ability to judge and reflect on the game in the way they want to.