The Dark Knight’s Many Stories: Arkham Video Games as Transmedia Pathway

Kyle Barrett

Abstract


This article examines the Batman Arkham video game series (Rocksteady/WB Montreal, 2009-2015) as part of a wider transmedia franchise that encompasses comic books, films, merchandise and multiple animated and live-action television series. It will be posited that the video game series is a successful entry point for non-fans into this ever-expanding transmedia universe. Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009), the first of the series, was critically acclaimed and established the gameplay, mechanics, and rules for the sequels Arkham City (2011), Arkham Origins (2013) and Arkham Knight (2015). Gameplay mechanics are linked to ‘player agency,’ i.e. how the user controls the avatar within the game environment. Player agency is somewhat restricted in the series; however, this will be argued to be a benefit for audiences. There are somewhat ludic conditions that can either be beneficial or detrimental for the player, to ensure they learn from failure. This essay will further argue that players accumulate a wider understanding of the Batman universe by collecting artefacts as they deviate from the central narrative. The player unearths character biographies and interview tapes that are based on the character’s extensive history and, thus, provide a gateway into the transmedia world of Batman.

 


Keywords


transmedia studies, video games, fan service, Batman, superhero franchises, agency

Full Text:

PDF

References


Ang, Chee Siang. “Rules, Gameplay, and Narrative in Video Games.” Simulation & Gaming 37.3 (2006): 306-325.

Arnott, Luke. “Arkham Epic: Batman Video Games as Totalizing Texts.” Contemporary Research on Intertextuality in Video Games. Edited by Christophe Duret and Chritian-Marie Pons. Hershey: IGI Global, 2016. 1-21.

Atkinson, Sarah. “Transmedia Film: From Embedded Engagement to Embodied Experience.” The Routledge Companion to Transmedia Studies. Edited by Matthew Freeman and Renira Rampazzo Gambarato. New York: Routledge, 2019. 15-24.

Bezio, Kristin M. “Playing the Villain: Critical Play and the Joker-as-Guide in Batman: Arkham Asylum.” The Joker: A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime. Edited by Robert Moses Peaslee and Robert G. Weiner. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2015. 129-145.

Brenner, Robin E. Understanding Manga and Anime. Westport: Libraries Unlimited, 2007.

Burton, Tim. Batman. 1989.

---. Batman Returns. 1992.

Calleja, Gordon. In-Game: From Immersion to Incorporation. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011.

Dini, Paul. Batman: Arkham City. Burbank: DC Comics, 2011.

Domsch, Sebastian. Storyplaying: Agency and Narrative in Video Games. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013.

Dozier, William. Batman. 1966-1968.

Eichner, Susanne. Agency and Media Reception: Experiencing Video Games, Films, and Television. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 2014.

Elliott, Stuart. “Batman Returns but Brings Far Fewer T-Shirts.” New York Times 9 June 1995: 25-26.

Fahlenbrach, Kathrin and Felix Schröter. “Embodied Avatars in Video Games: Audiovisual Metaphors in the Interactive Design of Player Characters.” Embodied Metaphors in Film, Television, and Video Games: Cognitive Approaches. Edited by Kathrin Fahlenbrach. New York: Routledge, 2016. 251-268.

Fowler, Jeff. Sonic the Hedgehog. 2020.

Freeman, Matthew. “Transmediating Tim Burton’s Gotham City: Brand Convergence, Child Audiences, and Batman: The Animated Series.” Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network 7.1 (2012): 41-54.

Gambarato, Renira Rampazzo. “Signs, Systems and Complexity of Transmedia Storytelling.” Estudos em Comunicação 12 (2012): 69-83.

Garneau, Eric. “Lady Haha: Performativity, Super-Sanity, and the Mutability of Identity.” The Joker: A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime. Edited by Robert Moses Peaslee and Robert G. Weiner. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2015. 33-48.

Gorfinkel, Jordan B. et al. Batman: No Man’s Land. Burbank: DC Comics, 1999.

Graves, Michael. “The Marvel One-Shots and Transmedia Storytelling.” Make Ours Marvel: Convergence and a Comics Universe. Edited by Matt Yockey. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2017. 234-247.

Greenslade, Amanda. “Gamespeak: A Glossary of Gaming Terms.” Specushare 2006. https://web.archive.org/web/20070219082328/http://www.specusphere.com/jo la/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=232&Itemid=32. Last visited 26/03/2020.

Habel, Chad and Ben Kppyman. “Agency Mechanics: Gameplay Design in Survival Horror Video Games.” Digital Creativity 25.1 (2014): 1-14.

Hill, Sefton. Batman: Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady, 2009.

---. Batman: Arkham City. Rocksteady, 2011.

---. Batman: Arkham Knight. Rocksteady, 2015.

Hillyer, Lambert. Batman. 1943.

Hitchens, Michael. “A Survey of First-Person Shooters and their Avatars.” Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research 11.3 (2011). http://gamestudies.org/1103/articles/michael_hitchens. Last visited 27/03/2020.

Holmes, Eric and Benoit Richer. Batman: Arkham Origins. WB Games Montreal, 2013.

Hudson, Casey. Mass Effect. BioWare, 2007.

---. Mass Effect 2. BioWare, 2010.

---. Mass Effect 3. BioWare, 2012.

Hughes, Noah, Daniel Chayer and Daniel Neuburger. Tomb Raider. Square Enix, 2013.

Id Software. Doom. 1993.

Igarzábal, Federico Alvarez. Time and Space in Video Games: A Cognitive-Formalist Approach. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2019.

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

Jess-Cooke, Carolyn. Film Sequels. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009.

Johnson, Villa. “‘It’s What You Do That Defines You’: Christopher Nolan’s Batman as Moral Philosopher.” Journal of Popular Culture 47.5 (2014): 952-967.

Kane, Bob and Bill Finger. Batman. Burbank: Detective Comics (DC), 1939-present.

Konami. Batman Returns. 1992.

Koskimaa, Raine, Krzysztof Maj and Ksenia Olkusz. “Introduction to Expanding Universes: Exploring Games and Transmedial Ways of World-Building.” Transnational Journal of Transmedia Literacy 4 (2018): 7-17.

Kraus, Gérard. “Video games: Platforms, Programmes, and Players.” Digital Cultures: Understanding New Media. Edited by Glenn Creeber and Royston Martin. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill/Open University Press, 2009. 76-91.

Kudláč, Martin. “Transmedia Storytelling: The Many Faces of Video Games, Fluid Narratives and Winding Seriality.” Body and Text: Cultural Transformations and New Media Environments. Edited by David Callahan and Anthony Barker. Gewerbestrasse: Springer, 2018. 191-203.

Landay, Lori. “Interactivity.” The Routledge Companion to Video Games. Edited by Mark J. P. Wolf and Bernard Perron. New York: Routledge, 2014. 174-184.

Laskowski, Cassandra M. “Pedagological Lessons from Video Games.” AALL Spectrum 23.4 (2019): 12-14.

Lebowitz, Josiah and Chris Klug. Interactive Storytelling for Video Games: A Player-Centered Approach to Creating Memorable Characters and Stories. Burlington: Focal Press, 2011.

Liberman, Jay, Michael Plugh and Brian Geltzeiler. “Fandom Communication in the Mediated Age: The Use of Twitter and Blogs for Dissent Practices among National Basketball Association Fans.” Television, Social Media, and Fan Culture. Edited by Alison F. Slade, Amber J. Narro and Dedria Givens Carroll. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015. 63-88.

Mauger, Vincent. “Interface.” The Routledge Companion to Video Games. Edited by Mark J. P. Wolf and Bernard Perron. New York: Routledge, 2014. 32-40.

McGowen, Todd. Fictional Christopher Nolan. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012.

Miller, Greg. “Batman: Arkham Asylum Review.” IGN 11 September 2009. https://www.ign.com/articles/2009/09/11/batman-arkham-asylum-review. Last visited 03/03/2020.

Mitchell, Briar Lee. Game Design Essentials. Indianapolis: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2012.

Morrison, Grant and Dave McKean. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. Burbank: DC Comics, 1989.

Newman James. Videogames (Second Edition). New York: Routledge, 2013.

Nguyen, C. Thi. Games: Agency as Art. New York : Oxford University Press, 2020.

Nolan, Christopher. Batman Begins. 2005.

---. The Dark Knight. 2008.

---. The Dark Knight Rises. 2012.

Ocean Software. Batman. 1986.

Philips, Keith. “Batman and Robin.” AV Club, 2002. https://film.avclub.com/batman-and-robin-1798196324. Last visited 26/03/2020.

Probe Entertainment. Batman and Robin. 1998.

---. Batman Forever. 1995.

Radomski, Eric, and Bruce Timm. Batman: The Animated Series. 1992-1995.

Robbins, M. Brandon. “Batman’s Early Days.” Library Journal 139.1 (2014) : 66.

Rockstar Games. Red Dead Redemption. 2010.

---. Red Dead Redemption 2. 2019.

Russo, Anthony and Joe Russo. Avengers: Endgame. 2019

---. Avengers: Infinity War. 2018.

---. Captain America: Civil War. 2016.

Schott, Gareth. Violent Games: Rules, Realism, and Effect. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Schumacher, Joel. Batman and Robin. 1997.

---. Batman Forever. 1995.

Summers, Tim. “Music Across the Transmedial Frontier: Star Trek Video Games.” Intermedia Games: Games Inter Media—Video Games and Intermediality. Edited by Michael Fuchs and Jeff Thoss. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. 207-230.

Sunsoft. Batman. 1989.

Swope, Zachariah. “‘Batman: Arkham Origins’ is a Mixed Bag.” University Wire 30 October 2013.

Tavinor, Grant. The Art of Videogames. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2009.

Walters, Mac. Mass Effect: Andromeda. BioWare, 2017.

Wasko, Janet. How Hollywood Works. London: SAGE Publications, 2003.

Westecott, Emma. “The Player Character as Performing Object.” Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory (Proceedings of DiGRA). 1-4 September 2009, West London, UK.

Whedon, Joss. Avengers: Age of Ultron. 2015.

---. Avengers Assemble. 2012.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.13136/2281-4582/2020.i16.917

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.