Michelle Parnett-Dwyer

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Pinball: Two Pieces of American Culture

L. Frank Baum's classic novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, captivated generations of audiences with its iconic characters, adventurous storyline, and captivating setting. Published in 1900, the novel inspired countless adaptations in a variety of mediums including stage plays, films, novels, and video games. The Wizard of Oz film, released in 1939 by MGM, remains a legendary title and cultural icon. This summer, visitors to The Strong’s Pinball Playfields exhibit have the opportunity to play The Wizard of Oz pinball.

Explore Your Reading List with These Video Games

My reading list seems to grow longer each year. It seems impossible to read all of the intriguing titles available; the Library of Congress alone has approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. If you’re like me and you’d like to tackle more of your reading list or if you’d like to take your reading beyond the beaten path, you might try out a few video games based on books.

Video Games Showcase the Human Experience

Storytellers help listeners to connect to experiences. Current storytelling projects such as The Moth, Story Corps, and Human Library showcase human experience through various media platforms. Video games today demonstrate how storytelling continues to evolve. The format allows players to interpret the game and to make in-game decisions that affect the fate of the characters and the plot of the story.

Video Game Designers Partner with Writer Neil Gaiman

Novelists have collaborated with video game designers to create interactive fiction for decades. In 1984, author Douglas Adams and computer game developer Steve Meretzky paired-up to turn the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy series into an interactive fiction video game. Cyberdreams later worked with author Harlan Ellison to turn his short-story, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,” into a point-and-click adventure game.

Video Games Explore Ancient Myths and Folklore

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.

B-movies: From the Silver Screen to the Video Game Screen

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.

Poe, Thoreau, and Dickinson as Video Game Avatars

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.

Pages