To expand our 41st issue on mythology and gaming, we want to explore the lesser-trod tales of man within video games. We’ve seen Greek, Japanese, Norse, Egyptian and Chinese mythological references, as well as plenty of traditional English dragons and elves in our games. Yet what of other myths and legends from around the world? What would we like to see explored in future games? Something Polynesian? Aboriginal? Russian? There are thousands of tales games of the future could be sourced from; here is our personal wishlist.
Of course, my full thoughts on this subject came to light in my column, but one mythology that really sticks out to me as ripe for video game-ification is that of Native American mythology. It is not on the beaten path of mythologies you hear a lot about, though. Generally when you hear about mythology you are drawn to the ever-popular Roman and Greek mythologies, but to stay there would do a disservice to other cultures that have a unique perspective on the world.
Tidman probably doesn’t mean something like this
The creation myth of the Cherokee tribe, for example, could lead to a Spore-esque world design game where you as a water beetle have to create a world of land from an endless ocean. Honestly, take a survey of Native American mythology and you will find vast worlds of content that are ready for their debut.
I always believed Sumerian mythology was rife with heroes and monsters that would fit very well into video games. The Epic of Gilgamesh is particularly seems perfectly suited for the medium, brimming with adventure and epic battles against unfathomably powerful beasts. I think the tale would make a great action game in the God of War mold, and its reliance on Sumerian myth (which is not as widely known as many other mythologies) would give it an exotic and unique feel that would set it apart from other titles in the same genre.
And while Greek mythology is generally overdone, I would really like to see an outright video game adaptation of The Odyssey. That tale, perhaps more than any other, is the quintessential adventure story, and I think it would make a fantastic RPG. The developer of this hypothetical title would not even need to take that many creative liberties with the plot because it is already structured much like a video game, and I am honestly surprised no team has yet attempted it.
As a Chinese dude, I still don’t think we’ve delved enough into Chinese mythology. Everybody knows about Dynasty Warriors (though we, uh, don’t really call them that), sure– but what about the Jade Emperor? What about the rabbit in the moon? What about our Eight Immortals or the five fugitive Shaolin monks? Where is all that stuff? Yeah, I don’t know either, but let me tell you, if we’re talking about what mythological creatures would beat each other in a Super Smash Bros. of, well, epic proportions– well, I’m putting my money on the Eight Immortals. They’re, you know, immortal.
8 Immortals Ahoy!
And hey, aboriginal mythology? I’m pretty interested in that, too, though of course I’m biased again so I’m into all things Taiwanese. Okay, I suppose Australian aboriginal myth would be great too. Or Native American. I mean, here’s the thing: we’ve spent so much time in Norse myth and Greek myth, and the nonconformist in me just thinks we’re beating the dead Sleipner/Pegasus. I think anything other than what we’ve tread already could be super viable– as long as, of course, we treat it in a respectful manner. (Dynasty Warriors only counts as respectful if they kick more ass than Kratos does.)
I think any Meso-american mythology would be pretty rad, as it’s just as rich and dense as any of those already mentioned. While it’s been tapped on a cinematic scale– adorably with Road to El Dorado and disgracefully with 2012— the only game that immediately comes to mind is Tak and the Power of Juju and the resultant series. Maybe a bit of Crash Bandicoot here and there, or Uncharted. But the latter two barely dive into the mythologies, and serve little more than as a graphical style or an Indiana Jones-themed adventure.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s all fine and dandy, but “The Legend of Popocatepetl” would make for one rockin’ game. If anything, in the hands of the right developers– my dreams say Retro especially– the art style would be phenomenal.
M. Noah Ward
Wow, my cohorts have some fantastic suggestions, and my interest is especially piqued by the North American suggestions from Tidman and Kevin. I honestly don’t know which I’d choose between Tall Tales, Native American or Aztec and Mayan sources. And I didn’t even know much about the Eight Immortals or Gilgamesh until I checked them out from the references above and was even more excited. I’m already a big fan of all the mythologies we see game in and game out, but having those other stories would be even more exciting.
Unfortunately I’m struggling to think of other ideas that haven’t been touched on, but what I can say is how exciting games can be when they echo books and expose us to new cultures, ideas and civilizations that we otherwise may never get the chance to see or experience in person. To that end, gaming through whatever dark fairy tales keep kids up at night in the Himalayas, India and South America would be thrilling.
And last, what about modern myths from cryptozoology? A game about Jersey Devils and chupacabras would be right up my alley.
Did we bring up a legend or mythology you want to see in games? Or do you have another story you want represented? Tell us in the comments below.
Pocahantas still from Disney. Paintings of Iztaccíhuatl and prince Popocatépetl by Jesús Helguera.