Scholars’ perceptions of mass media’s impact on folklore and mythology are complicated. Some scholars believe that tale dissemination via movies, television programs, and video games encourages viewers to rediscover classic stories. Others argue that film adaptations of folk and myth narratives may create “definitive texts,” which threaten to “replace the more fluid oral variants.” What is at stake when we adapt folklore and mythology to mass media? I suspect it leads to engaging discourse and creative expression.
A local movie theater recently hosted an “Indoor Drive-in” series to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the original drive-in theaters. First opened by Richard Hollingshead in 1933, drive-ins became family destinations. People paid a minimal fee to enter a gated parking lot with a huge movie screen located at one end of the grounds. Hollingshead intended for guests to watch the movie from the comfort of their own automobiles. When technology permitted, guests rolled the window part-way down and attached a tethered speaker to the car.
I recently went to a Guns and Roses concert. Axl Rose, the only original member, proved a bit soft around the edges and failed to hit the high notes like he used to—during a few songs, I thought of the 1984 mockumentary, This is Spinal Tap. I also realized heavy metal, glam rock, and hard-pop from the late 70s and early 80s prove resilient.
Pretend play often helps us cope. When we’re sad, scared, or depressed, pretend play lets us escape our hurts and gather strength to face our fears and trials.
Henry David Thoreau advised his peers, “Let us first be simple and well as Nature ourselves, dispel the clouds which hang over our brows, and take up a little life into our pores.” Thoreau’s contemporaries professed similar emotional, individualist, and idealist sentiments. I respect authors of the American Romantic and Victorian period of literature; however, I don’t always enjoy wading through their sometimes ornate language. I recently discovered a few video game titles that provide a new format to interact with work from this period.
I recently watched independent animation film director and designer Léo Verrier’s short film, Dripped. The 8-minute film presented a fictional story of a burglar who stole famous paintings from museums and proceeded to eat the artwork. Shortly after the thief consumed an artwork, his body morphed into a figure or design from the specific painting. I like to imagine that Verrier came up with this idea for his film after viewing a Picasso. Many artists find inspiration in existing art.
Before I came to The Strong, I taught writing and literature courses at the Rochester Institute of Technology and elsewhere, which fits right in with writing electronic games blogs. As video games occupy more and more of our playtime, it is not surprising that some educators are finding opportunities to use gaming to teach writing and critical reading skills. Here are three examples I find particularly interesting:
I have wanderlust. In college, I found like-minded companions in Dean and Sal from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. In one passage, Sal recognized why he felt compelled to travel and explained that he had “no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, rolling under the stars.” I still relate to his sentiments; however, my lifestyle does not always permit sporadic adventures. Now when I feel the need to hit the open road, I turn to video games for adventure and exploration.
In the past, many considered mind-wandering a tool used to procrastinate; however, psychologists and neuroscientists today agree it is a vital cognitive tool. Psychologist Jonathan Schooler explained that allowing the mind to wander provides opportunities to explore additional possibilities and often leads to “bursts of creative insight.” This caused me to think about how daydreaming impacts both the process of creating video games and the way individuals experience game play.
Since the 17th century, individuals have discussed the possibility of extraterrestrial beings. What is the possibility of extraterrestrial life? “Guaranteed,” Harvard physicist and search for extraterrestrial intelligent life leader Paul Horowitz declared in a 1996 interview with Time Magazine. It is “so overwhelmingly likely that I’d give you almost any odds you’d like,” he said. Not everyone shares Horowitz’s confidence, but most people still delight in films, books, TV, and educational programming about the subject.