Author: Roger Travis

Roger Travis is Associate Professor of Classics in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages of the University of Connecticut. He is also the Director of the Video Games and Human Values Initiative (http://vghvinet.ning.com), based at UConn, an interdisciplinary online nexus for online courses and scholarly activities like fellowships, symposia, and the initiative’s Proceedings, of which Travis is the editor. He received his Bachelor’s degree in classics from Harvard College, and his Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley before arriving at UConn in 1997. He has published on Homeric epic, Greek tragedy, Greek historiography, the 19th C. British novel, HALO, and the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game He has been President of the Classical Association of New England and of the Classical Association of Connecticut. He writes the blog Living Epic (http://livingepic.blogspot.com) about his discovery of the fundamental connection between ancient epic and the narrative video game. In the 2009-2010 academic year, Travis offered the first courses ever designed entirely as practomimes (see http://www.academicimpressions.com/news.php?i=59 for detail), a form of serious game.

This post takes us from homeric epic to a key moment of its reception in classical Athens, Plato. In it, I cover ground I’ve also covered in print, in a chapter in the collection Ethics and Game Design. Here’s what you need to know starting out: 1) Plato loved Homer—theContinue Reading

I wrote at the end of my last post about the way game designers and game players, in the analogy between narrative games and homeric epic, have certain parts of the role of the bard divided between them: the player gets the most obviously fun part of the bard’s job–combiningContinue Reading

This post is about the the way the essential mechanical aspect of the ludic system called homeric epic–the re-composition of heroic tales by the elaboration of formulas and themes, recurrent elements that could be combined in infinite variety by the virtuosic performers who were perhaps called homerids–gives us a compellingContinue Reading

This post picks up where my last one left off, and does the heavy oral formulaic lifting I mentioned before. If we take the phrase “Playing the Past” as loosely as I think all of us here would like, playing the past is exactly what the homeric bards were doing,Continue Reading

This post serves as a prelude to some heavy oral formulaic lifting I’m planning to do in a subsequent one, following on from the more general argument I made about immersion in my previous two posts on games and homeric epic. Hopefully, these posts will clarify both the similarities betweenContinue Reading

Registration opened last week for the online course/game I’ve been working on since last summer. The formal title of the course is Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies 1101 Greek Civilization, but as an Alternate-Reality game I’ve titled it Operation ΜΗΝΙΣ. Μῆνις (menis) means “wrath,” and it’s the word used byContinue Reading

The beginnings of practomimes, whether oral traditional epics or narrative video games, can, I think, tell us a great deal about some fascinating similarities and differences among how performers through the ages–bards, storytellers of all kinds, video gamers–expressed themselves artistically. Such comparisons seem to me to pay huge dividends notContinue Reading