October 30, 2023

November the 8th: Souls Games as Myths

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On Wednesday the 8th of November at 16.00 (IDG lab), game scholar and IDG's good friend Dr. Dom Ford (University of Bremen, Germany) will offer a guest lecture on narrative aspects of the beloved action-adventure dark fantasy series of the Souls games. In line with Dom's research, the lecture will focus on the notion of mythology and how we could interpret the whole series as one.

Join us at the IDG on this new adventure, fellow undead! (and find the abstract for the talk below)


Approaching FromSoftwares Souls Series as Myth

FromSoftware’s Souls series comprises five separate fictional worlds, and yet is considered a series with a ‘spiritual’ connection. Although an obvious connection is the developer, much attention has been paid – both in popular discourse and in academic research – to the distinctive character of FromSoftware’s worldbuilding and storytelling: variously described as cryptic, environmental, archaeological, lore-over-plot, obscure, ambiguous, fragmented, and so on. I argue that trying to understand this through the frame of narrative is ultimately limiting: either crucial aspects of the games and their worlds are ignored, or the concept of narrative is stretched so far it becomes meaningless.

I propose instead to look at the series as a mythology. I understand mythology following recent folklore studies as a model for understanding the world, manifesting in stories, yes, but also patterns of behaviour, aesthetics, architectural styles, spatial configurations, characters, events and so on. I argue that we can identify a core mythology that binds the Souls series beyond just the fact that they are FromSoftware games, and despite the fact that they occupy different fictional universes. This core mythology can be grouped into themes: desire and purpose, godhood and divinity, and fire and dark. An important facet of this is also how the Souls community negotiates and discusses this mythology, and I bring up the notion of certain Youtubers occupying the role of folkloric storytellers.

Knight Artorias - Dark Souls Guide - IGN