Adaptations and Videogames

To coincide with the Game Masters exhibition, we are joining forces with Freeplay – Australia’s longest running independent games festival – to bring you Re:Play, a new monthly event where developers, critics, commentators and players take an irreverent look at games and culture. With intermittent bursts of entertainment from live bands and special guests it’s sure to be some next level fun.

Kicking the program off, our expert panel will explore the cyclical topic of adaptations and videogames in Thorin Sings About Gold; a look at the complex process of the transformation from comics to books, movies to games (and often back again). The adaptations and possibilities seem endless.

The Prince from Prince of Persia

The Prince from Prince of Persia

One successful (and one of the earliest) adaptations was The Hobbit. Developed by Beam Software and published by Melbourne House in 1982, the game is an adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel of the same name, with the player taking on the role of the main character and hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. Following the narrative of the novel, the player is on a quest to steal the horde of gold from the dragon Smaug, accompanied by the wizard Gandalf, Thorin and his band of dwarves. As a text-based adventure, the player could type in commands such as ‘open door’ or ‘kill troll with heavy axe’, but if they waited too long, Thorin would sit down and begin to sing about gold endlessly.

The Hobbit was made available for almost every platform available in the early 80s and by arrangement with the publisher, came with a copy of the 45-year-old book. This provides quite a stark contrast to today’s videogame adaptations, released the exact date as their associated movie or TV show. The Hobbit game went on to sell millions of copies and the iconic opening screen with the round green door slowly filling in (computers were slow back then) still strikes a chord in the heart of players who grew up with both the book and the game.

But does adaptation always work? When it doesn’t work – why not? And when it does, what is the special sauce that transforms from one medium to another? All of this and more will be explored, discussed, debated and torn apart, adaptation by adaptation…

Taking us on this conversational journey is our illustrious panel; Paul Callaghan from Freeplay, Young Writer of the Year finalist Sara Haghdoosti, Game Designer Craig Duturbure, and film critic and gamer Josh Nelson.

To top the night off, Technodrome, our house band for the evening, will play some of their best gaming inspired music. Here’s a li’l snippet of the band themselves playing a medley of their favourite Street Fighter II tunes.

See you there for an evening of game talk and music. Perhaps Thorin will join us for a sing-a-long?!

– Hermione Merry, ACMI Screen Events Coordinator and Paul Callaghan, Freeplay director

Re:Play is presented by Film Victoria

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