Games generate worlds. They open gateways into spaces that exist by their own rules while breaking others. Children are often better at apprehending them than adults. Games create a sense of community, intensify relationships, and distract from everyday life, in sports as well as on an evening of music, bowling, or board games. For some decades now, video games have been carrying us off into complex virtual worlds, whereas escape rooms challenge players to find their way out by solving various intricate puzzles. Maintaining an interest in games and keeping one’s playfulness even after childhood is considered a positive character trait. People who are not ready to engage with unusual situations or break established rules to some degree are considered bad sports, as are those who cannot take seriously a set of preposterous, seemingly absurd game rules for a set period of time.
Games have long lost their innocence—that is, if they ever had it. The desire to play has always been associated with the transgression of boundaries and the breaking of rules. Not only is this true for power play, gambling, or love games, but for any, even the most childish types of play. This has been exemplarily demonstrated in the Korean TV series Squid Game, where people compete in a series of games, including a game of marbles, in order to win an enormous amount of money. If they lose, however, it costs them their life. The reenactment of these brutal scenes became a worldwide phenomenon, leading to an intermingling of violence and play in reality.
Games are not just the objects or processes of fictional words, in films or literary texts. Play is part of every artistic process, including literary writing. The use of the medium of literature itself, of language, is reminiscent of a game, even though its rules may not be clearly defined. Literary texts play in and with language or with narrated worlds, creatively interweaving these elements and blurring the boundaries between play and seriousness, illusion and realism. By integrating games, especially video games, literature opens to the narrative techniques of other media and art forms.
In eight readings and talks, the ZfL Literature Days at the Literaturhaus Berlin will explore current game worlds and ways of playing in literature, delve into playful texts and the literary play with other forms of narration such as those used in video games.
The ZfL Literature Days are jointly organized by the Literaturhaus Berlin and the ZfL in cooperation with the project Neighborhood in Contemporary Berlin Literature and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
Friday, 9 Jun 2023
Readings and talks with ...
Heike Geißler and Janika Gelinek (Literaturhaus Berlin)
Anna Hetzer and Christina Ernst (ZfL)
Emma Braslavsky and Hanna Hamel (ZfL)
Teresa Präauer and Eva Geulen (ZfL)
19.00 Game night
Saturday, 10 Jun 2023
Readings and talks with ...
Yoko Tawada and Ulrike Vedder (HU)
Magdalena Schrefel and Katrin Trüstedt (ZfL)
Andreas Bernard and Stefan Willer (HU)
Raphaela Edelbauer and Alexander Friedrich (ZfL)