Manga de dokuha as Visual Novel:
Ren’Py and Reading Marx through textual gameplay
Japanese publisher East Press published a manga edition of Karl Marx’s multivolume Das Kapital in 2007, and in that same year sold 507,000 copies. Since then, the company has annually released at least one Western canonized literary or philosophical work-as-manga to the Japanese public, and these are now being translated and sold abroad. Several scholars have written on (and created) the practice of transposing difficult philosophy or classic literature into graphic novels and comic books. However, what happens when the manga themselves are transposed into a more interactive art form—that of the visual novel?
Visual novels are interactive fiction games or multimedia novel forms that incorporate game play, and they are usually centered on dialogue, non-linear narratives, and multiple perspectives. As part of a digital humanities project, I have translated the manga version of Das Kapital, and have been developing a prototype visual novel using Ren’Py, a visual novel engine based on simplified Python scripting.
For purposes of teaching and learning, Visual Novels have value for three reasons:
1. This is a method for promoting literacy of and exposure to inaccessible philosophical texts whose ideologies are vogue in culture and criticism.
2. The form of the visual novel is gaining popularity, and might find some use value in education (is it serious game, edutainment, or literary).
3. The issues of digital learning—to code in Python, techniques for storyboarding, and translation issues—are paramount.
Biography: Dana Milstein joined Yale ITS as the Academic Technology Specialist to the Humanities in May 2014. Dana earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she also completed a certificate in Instructional Technology and Interactive Pedagogy, and a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies at NYU. She held faculty and academic technologist positions in the Humanities at several New York universities and distance education institutions, and worked as a freelance curriculum designer and writer for the W. W. Norton series for World Literature and World Drama. Initially trained as a classical saxophonist, Dana enjoys songwriting and learning new instruments. Her hobbies include fiber arts, gaming, yoga, and manuscript illumination. She is a specialist in Nineteenth Century French and German poetry and music, and also researches and participates in anime, video game, and Steampunk material cultures.