The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connel: a Critical Study
For the interactive adaption of a story into a game, the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connel was chosen. A classic story read by many students in high school, it is the story of a well-traveled hunter, Rainsford, who becomes trapped on an island off the coast of South America where an insane hunter by the name General Zaroff hunts humans. For three days, Rainsford is forced to participate in Zaroff’s “game”, and ultimately he triumphs and kills Zaroff in the end. The story contains many aspects that were easy to adapt into game form; however, it had many aspects that were very difficult to put into the game. By making an actual game out of “The most Dangerous Game”, it supports the idea of transmedia story telling because it enables the reader/player to experience the game in multiple, different ways. This essay will reflect on these subjects, and investigate them in depth.
“The Most Dangerous Game”. The name already says it; it’s a game. One might be quick to say that making an interactive game out of it was easy – and in some respects it was. The story line of Rainsford surviving in the jungle for three days as the evil General Zaroff hunts him makes for an easy plot to base the game on. With suspense already built into the story, it was easy to take that suspense and place it into the modified storyline. Also, the plot gave many options to how one might offer choices to the player. For example; when running through the jungle there are numerous things Rainsford can do. He can climb a tree, head toward the beach, make a fake path, or keep running. The very free, adventurous nature of the story offered a plethora of choices to be offered to the player. It is very similar to playing an open environment videogame; the user attempts to provide the player with the most freedom as possible while still keeping the story line in place. Despite this being an advantage, it also was a disadvantage. Offering choices is easy. Creating different tangents for each of them, and continuing to offer the same freedom after each choice grew difficult, and soon nearly impossible. Giving the player multiple choices calls for different scenarios and results to emerge, as at the end of each day Rainsford could be at any portion of the island. To solve this problem, choices became linked. For example, if Rainsford was at the beach and he wanted to go into the forest, that choice would take Rainsford to a large tree. If the player had kept Rainsford in the forest, and chose to stay in the forest, that choice would also take him to the large tree. This strategy links two tangents to one path and allowed the developer to keep the player in check – yet not limit the player’s freedom entirely. A difficulty that arose from this was linking choices together, but also making sure they occurred within the same time frame (whether the choice is given in the morning, afternoon, etc.). It required the developer to link choices that only made sense – time ways – not choices that made it convenient. This provided the game with a realistic touch, and added to the overall depth of the game.
Although originally written as a short story decades ago, the experience in interactive game form is very similar, if not more intense. When adapting a game from a literary work, you make the reader/player more involved in the story. The choices he/she makes directly impact his/her experience of the story. One choice leads to death, the other to victory – and not all the deaths and victories are the same. It is a very open game with multiple ways to end it. With each choice, it builds suspense, as the paragraph or two that ensues tells the player if he/she survives to live another choice. Suspense is such a key component to games because it grabs the reader’s attention. A game without suspense, or some sort of captivating feature has a far less chance at being considered a viable transmedia form than a game with suspense and purpose, something that this game has. One of the most important parts to transmedia storytelling is keeping the story centered on the core idea, and just altering the side aspects. For example, in the actual story, Rainsford kills Zaroff in his own house. In the modified version of the game, Rainsford never kills Zaorff in that way. This pattern reverbs throughout the whole game, where the game contains a similar plot and results, but achieves them through completely different means. The reason why this is done is to keep the player from getting bored and annoyed that he/she is playing the exact same story as the written work. Alterations to the story keep the player off guard and curious as to what will happen next. “The Walking Dead” does a fantastic job of this. Another aspect of transmedia storytelling is that the game focuses more on the environment, expanding it, and basing much of the gameplay on it, rather than focusing on specific characters and developing them throughout the game. This gives the game a different feel from the book because it tells the story almost from a different point of view.
The short story “The Most Dangerous Game” is one of history’s best all time short-story thrillers. Although intended for only one medium, it can transform into others (in this case an interactive game) with a bit of effort and hard work. The open island aspect makes it easy for the developer to create multiple choices for the player to choose from; however, this multitude of choices creates a problem of too many tangents, only solved by linking certain choices to a common destination. The interactive game version of the story is able to pass as a form of transmedia storytelling because it keeps the plot (the hunt between Rainsford and Zaroff), but alters the outcome and how the outcome is achieved, giving a player who has already read the story with a new sense of excitement, suspense, and purpose. It also focuses on the environment and expanding it, rather than the characters or plot.
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