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Lost in Transmediation. Transmedial Adaption of Videogames and GDNA Theory

Sven Dwulecki


Videogames and their transmedial adaptations share common persuasive messages. Their rhetoric is diverse, encompassing political as well as economic messages for the players. Yet, the possibilities to analyze the translation from videogames towards other media is so far limited. Without a systematic approach to address all circumstances behind videogame-rhetoric, the resulting insights for their transmedial satellites are difficult to compare. Therefore, this paper introduces the GDNA model. The Game Dynamic Narrative Analysis is crafted as a holistic approach. Based upon the notion of videogame as artificial orator (homunculus digitalis), it compares videogames analysis with DNA sequencing. Identifying rhetoric sequences within a game’s genome is marked by the interplay between those elements specific to games (like procedural rhetoric) and those transferred from other fields (like speech act analysis or visual rhetoric). Thereby, the GDNA model unifies narratological and ludological perspectives of game studies through incorporating both positions into every rhetorical analysis of games. As a result, it grants better understanding how game-specific elements are treated in their respective transmedial translation. In order to illustrate this, the Metal Gear Solid franchise was examined. Metal Gear Solid demonstrates different strategies for transmediation. With novelizations, comic books, digital graphic novels, audio drama and analog board games, the storyworld of Solid Snake and Big Boss became accessible for a wide audience. However, Hideo Kojima’s legacy contains a unique element that poses a problem to transfer from its videogame origin: immersion fractures. Those speech acts directly address the player and persuade her to change gameplay behavior. Examining scenes from the first two installments with the GDNA model illustrates that immersion fractures require specific adaptations to preserve their specific messages. Their respective novels, comics and digital graphic novels addressed this challenge quite differently. However, some messages got lost of in their transmediation.


Rhetoric; Video games; transmedial franchises; game analysis; genetics; Metal Gear Solid; immersion fractures

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ijtl-2018-002-dwul

International Journal of Transmedia Literacy (IJTL)
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (22/10/2014 n. 328)
Online ISSN 2465-2261 - Print ISSN 2465-227X

Editor in Chief: Matteo Ciastellardi
Managing Editor: Giovanna Di Rosario
Managing Committee: Matteo Andreozzi, Stefano Calzati, Ugo Eccli, Cristina Miranda de Almeida.

Board Committee: Alan Albarran (University of North Texas, United States), Rogério Barbosa Da Silva (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil), Giovanni Baule (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Laura Borràs Castanyer (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain), Derrick de Kerckhove (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California, United States), Marsha Kinder (University of Southern California, United States), Raine Koskimaa (University of Jyväskylä, Finland), George Landow (Brown University, United States), Paul Levinson (Fordham University, United States), Asún López-Varela (Universidad Complutense, Spain), Lev Manovich (City University of New York, United States), Nick Montfort (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States), Marcos Novak (UCLA - University of California, Los Angeles, United States), Massimo Parodi (Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy), Bruce W. Powe (York University, Canada), Kate Pullinger (Bath Spa University, United Kingdom), Marie-Laure Ryan (Indipendent Scholar), Alexandra Saemmer (Université Paris 8, France), Carlos Scolari (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain), Susana Tosca (IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Alessandro Zinna (Université Toulouse II, France)

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