In my youth-days I faced battles unnumbered: Beowulf and Video Games

Cooper, Victoria and Elliott, Andrew (2020) In my youth-days I faced battles unnumbered: Beowulf and Video Games. In: Beowulf and the Media. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 51-66. ISBN 978-1-5275-4306-5

In my youth-days I faced battles unnumbered: Beowulf and Video Games
Authors' Accepted Manuscript
[img] PDF
3. I braved in my youth - Victoria E. Cooper and Andrew B.R. Elliott.pdf - Chapter
Restricted to Repository staff only

Item Type:Book Section
Item Status:Live Archive


In a collection of essays devoted to the representation of Beowulf in film, E.L. Risden argues that when it comes to cinematic translation of the epic poem, “the character readily accepts, even seeks, a position as a commodity: the martial and political hero necessary in the context of his world.”1 Such a claim is perhaps questionable when considering the broad spectrum of interpretations in film, but within the more restricted choice of video games based on the legend, it is most certainly true. In contrast to films and television, with only two major video games explicitly referencing Beowulf by name, ludic interpretations of the legend clearly favour a martial hero, and one whose popular-cultural early medieval setting privileges fighting, running, battles and challenges.
This chapter explores the logic of Beowulf-themed video games as more than just bad translations, but as expressions of, and contributions to, popular-cultural understandings of the poem and the period. Instead of questioning accuracy and fidelity, it will examine why adaptations of the poem unduly privilege what we call ‘hack-and-slash’ medievalism, how they compare to similarly ‘medieval’ games like Lord of the Rings, Skyrim or Age of Conan, and what impression of the Middle Ages such unequal representation produces.

Keywords:Beowulf, middle ages, Middle Ages in popular culture, Medievalism, Video games, medieval games, Medieval History, adaptation
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V130 Medieval History
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
ID Code:41469
Deposited On:24 Jul 2020 09:13

Repository Staff Only: item control page