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The Remediation of the Epic in Digital Games:
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim



Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania


This paper examines whether certain computer games, most notably RPGs, can be thought of as examples of the postmodern epic. Drawing on more recent critical frameworks of the epic, such as the ones proposed by Northrop Frye, Adeline Johns-Putra, Catherine Bates or John Miles Foley, the demonstration disembeds the most significant diachronic features of the epic from its two main media of reproduction, that of text and oral transmission, in order to test their fusion with the virtual environment of digital games. More specifically, I employ the concept of “epic mode” in order to explain the relevance of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim for the history of the epic typology, which must now be understood as transmedial. I illustrate the manner in which this representative title assimilates the experience and performance of the epic, as well as several meaningful shifts in terms of genre theory, the most notable of which is an intrinsic posthuman quality. The experience of play inherent to Skyrim does not only validate the latter as an authentic digital epic of contemporary culture, but it also enhances the content, role and impact of the typology itself, which is yet far from falling into disuse


The epic genre, digital epic, instantiation, transmedia theory, epic mode, video game aesthetics.