TPK IN ELSINORE: THE LARP INSIDE HAMLET (2015)

Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1602) is one of the modern world’s most widely performed and multi-generationally, cross-culturally relevant works of theater. The tale of a doomed prince, his equally doomed revenge plot against his father’s murderer, and thrice-doomed family and kingdom has become a rubric for the representation of tragic failure born of existential frustration and indecision. To make a game out of it seems both natural, and yet somehow overdetermined: games provoke us to engage with failure (Juul, 2013), but Hamlet asks us to confer our interpretation special significance. The play is an undisputed classic, oft-taught at that. Most of the global middle and upper-classes are both familiar with it and have a ready interpretation at hand. Hamlet has been adapted in game form many times: Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement (mif2000, 2010) as an ironic mobile puzzle game,
Matthew McFarland’s A Tragedy in Five Acts (2013) as a tabletop role-playing game, Ryan North’s To Be Or Not To Be: A Chooseable- Path Adventure (2016) as an interactive gamebook, Elsinore (Golden Glitch, 2017) as a time-looping adventure game, and so forth. Unlike tone-deaf prior literary adaptations such as the
Nintendo sidescroller Adventures of Tom Sawyer (SETA 1989) based on Mark Twain’s book, Hamlet games openly experiment with games as storytelling vehicles and invoke notable actions and dynamics from the play itself. Adapting Hamlet, after all, means close attention paid to the way narrative failure is rewarded.

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