Folklore in Games

  1. “Folklore is the traditional art, literature, knowledge, and practiced that is disseminated largely through oral communication and behavioral example.” This is a general definition but not one definition is adequate. Folklore connects people to the past but is very alive in the present as well and embedded in all cultures in all times. It’s traditions, art, speech, a way of life for a certain people. “‘Folklore’ has four basic meanings. First, it denotes oral narration, rituals, crafts, and other forms of vernacular expressive culture. Second, folklore, or ‘folkloristics,’ names an academic discipline devoted to the study of such phenomena. Third, in everyday usage, folklore sometimes describes colorful ‘folkloric’ phenomena linked to the music, tourist, and fashion industries. Fourth, like myth, folklore can mean falsehood. [P. 5711]” While their is difference in the exact definition, there is unity in the understanding that it is a way of life.
  2. “By drawing on folkloric traditions from around the world, and crafting their own universe-specific lore, video game writers and developers are building new interactive spaces for folklore and reifying the significance of folklore within our cultural imagination.” This ‘Geek Anthropologist’ Emma Louise Backe tells her audience of the stereotypes of folklore, the history, the present, and possibly the future of it. “The rise of the computer symbolizes the impact of technology upon the modern world. My point is that there is folklore of and about the computer” (1980:16-17). Dundes even pointed out that since folk communities don’t necessarily need to know each other IRL, the computer actually begets new kinds of folk groups. Dundes, widely regarded as the father of modern folklore, in fact anticipated the transition of folklore into cyberspace and celebrated the formulation of folklore of, about and within the digital domain.” She goes on to describe how many video games are drawing upon historical folklore traditions. “One of the most interesting elements of digital folklore is the creation of Internet urban legends. Urban legends are “‘stories of unusual, humorous or horrible events that contain themes related to the modern world, are told as something that did or may have happened, variations of which are found in numerous places and times, and contain moral implications’” (DiFonzo & Bordia 2007:28).”
  3. Bob Mackey does a quick explanation of the history behind Yokai Watch from Japan. Much of the article is about how Nintendo America is trying to mute the Japanese culture in the game. This would not be the first time something like this happened in America, he uses Harry Potter as an example of this. Culture is expressed all throughout the game so it would be quite the task for them to, almost, delete the culture just for sheltering the American public from another culture. Mackey argues that kids are curious about new things and with the internet booming, they could see whatever they wanted. Taking away the culture is taking away a valuable part of the game that Mackey believes would benefit and be desirable by kids.


The tale of Blackbeard’s Ghost is about a ruthless pirate named Blackbeard who through a pirate party on the shores of North Carolina. The party lasted for days and so authorities got word that this sought after pirate was close. Blackbeard tried to escape but it came to a brawl. Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy and Blackbeard came head to head and it was close, but one of Maynard’s men stabbed Blackbeard from behind through the neck. They shot him five times and about twelve cuts and then removed his head. Legend is that his body still floats in Teach’s Hole looking for his head.

The object of the game would be that the player picked which side, Law or Outlaw. If they chose Law, they would take on the role of Lieutenant Robert Maynard and attempt to fight Blackbeard’s pirate gang and defeat him once and for all. If they chose Outlaw, they would take on the role of Blackbeard and attempt to escape this cruel fate.

Blackbeard’s Ghost


Contemporary Folklore in the Digital Age

Brooke Reaves


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