Gaming the heart of darkness

Fruzsina Pittner, Iain Donald

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

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Abstract

The history of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has been one of adaptation and change. The enduring story is based upon Conrad’s experiences in the Congo in the 1890s and has been published as a novella in 1902. Since then the story has been criticised for racism by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe (1975) and relocated to Vietnam by Francis Ford Coppola as Apocalypse Now (1979), influencing computer games such as Far Cry 2 (2008) and Spec Ops: The Line (2012). In examining the adaptations of Heart of Darkness we can consider how the story evolves from the passive reading of post-colonial narratives through to the active participation in morally ambiguous decisions and virtual war crimes through digital games: examining Conrad’s story as it has been adapted for other mediums provides a unique lens in which to view storytelling and retelling within the context of how we interpret the world. This paper compares the source material to its adaptations, considering the blending of historical fact and original fiction, the distortion of the original story for the purpose of creating new meaning, and reflects on whether interactivity impacts upon the feeling of immersion and sense of responsibility in audiences of different narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Number of pages13
JournalArts
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2018

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Gaming
Heart of Darkness
Viet Nam
Racism
Apocalypse
Writer
Computer Games
Responsibility
Congo
Joseph Conrad
History
Francis Ford Coppola
Participation
Fiction
Original Story
Source Material
1890s
Retellings
War Crimes
Immersion

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Pittner, Fruzsina ; Donald, Iain. / Gaming the heart of darkness. In: Arts. 2018 ; Vol. 7, No. 3.
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Gaming the heart of darkness. / Pittner, Fruzsina; Donald, Iain.

In: Arts, Vol. 7, No. 3, 46, 04.09.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

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AB - The history of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has been one of adaptation and change. The enduring story is based upon Conrad’s experiences in the Congo in the 1890s and has been published as a novella in 1902. Since then the story has been criticised for racism by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe (1975) and relocated to Vietnam by Francis Ford Coppola as Apocalypse Now (1979), influencing computer games such as Far Cry 2 (2008) and Spec Ops: The Line (2012). In examining the adaptations of Heart of Darkness we can consider how the story evolves from the passive reading of post-colonial narratives through to the active participation in morally ambiguous decisions and virtual war crimes through digital games: examining Conrad’s story as it has been adapted for other mediums provides a unique lens in which to view storytelling and retelling within the context of how we interpret the world. This paper compares the source material to its adaptations, considering the blending of historical fact and original fiction, the distortion of the original story for the purpose of creating new meaning, and reflects on whether interactivity impacts upon the feeling of immersion and sense of responsibility in audiences of different narratives.

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