"A Little Jest That Maybe We Could Try" — Playing with Myth in Supergiant Games' Hades (2020)
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractSupergiant Games’ video game Hades (2020) tells the story of Zagreus, son of Hades and Persephone, as he repeatedly struggles to escape his father’s Underworld and, for the first time in his life, meet his mother upon the surface of Greece. While brief, this synopsis immediately speaks to some of the many ways in which Hades is a particularly fascinating work of classical reception. In this thesis, I will conduct case studies of certain “micro-receptions,” so to speak, within the game. I will begin with consideration of Zagreus, exploring what little is known about this mythological figure, and how Supergiant Games at once rejects and embraces contradictions in his extant myths. I will then devote a significant portion of time to considering the Infernal Arms, the weapons which Zagreus uses during his attempts to escape the Underworld. First, I will consider what the Arms tell us about the history of Hades’ storyworld. Second, I will elucidate how the Arms provide crucial context for the relationship between the Hades’ Greece and the rest of its storyworld. Third, examinations of each Arm individually will reveal yet more about Hades’ storyworld, while also speaking to the characters of some of the Arms’ wielders. Finally, I will show how the Infernal Arms are a gateway to understanding how Supergiant Games situated Hades within our world, focusing on its status as a product of gaming history, of the year 2020, and of the United States of America. Indeed, Supergiant Games navigates these contexts with thought and grace, producing an accessible, fun work of classical reception which, as a result, has effectively immersed its players in the classics, introducing newcomers to ancient Greece while setting the stage for countless classical receptions yet to come.
Degree ProgramGraduate College