Journal Article

Interiority, Affordances, and the Possibility of Adapting Henry James’s <i>The Turn of the Screw</i> as a Video Game

Andrew Cutting

in Adaptation

Volume 5, issue 2, pages 169-184
Published in print September 2012 | ISSN: 1755-0637
Published online September 2011 | e-ISSN: 1755-0645 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/adaptation/apr018
Interiority, Affordances, and the Possibility of Adapting Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw as a Video Game

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Book-to-game adaptations are commonplace in the form of tie-ins to blockbuster action movies, and best-selling science fiction, fantasy, crime, and thriller novels all translate fairly readily to video games by virtue of their mission-based structure and action heroes. By contrast, the fiction of Henry James, with its elitist reputation and emphasis on psychological rather than physical action, appears to be an extreme case of literature that is inherently unsuitable for adaptation as a video game. Using the examples of The Turn of the Screw and the video game Heavy Rain, this article shows how this apparent gulf need not be unbridgeable. Not only do video games already externalize the mind, albeit in very different ways from literary interiority, but they have also begun to make some of the phenomena of consciousness playable. There can in fact be some dialogue between the affordances of Jamesian prose and those of video games. Literary scholars, educators, and game designers all potentially have something to learn from the process of conceptualizing such apparently impossible adaptations.

Keywords: Video games; affordances; interiority; Henry James

Journal Article.  8585 words. 

Subjects: Film ; Television ; Literature

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