'Moby Dick' Makes for an Improbably Good, Very Strange Strategy RPG

When it comes to adapting classical works, subjects, and themes, games have a way of literalizing what was intended as metaphorical. Kieron Gillen summed up this impulse well when he dismissed The Watchmen video game trailer with a two-line blog post at Rock, Paper Shotgun: “Honestly, nice try guys, but you may as well turn Anna Karenina into a Railroad Tycoon clone.”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/pamdd8/moby-dick-makes-for-an-improbably-good-very-strange-strategy-rpg

Disclaimer: I read Moby Dick over 10 years ago and I can’t say I remember much more than very broad strokes.

It sounds like the game sacrifices a lot of literary message at the altar of fun? I’m really not sure what to make of this even as you say it’s improbably good. To me, it sounds like they wanted to make FTL, except it’s a whaling simulator, and they happened to score the Moby Dick license. Or, more likely (since there’s no such thing as the Moby Dick license), the devs guessed that giving it a Moby Dick skin would be more newsworthy and improve sales. It’s really not telling a Melvillain story, mechanically OR textually. I’d call it cynical but that sounds more pejorative and judgmental than I intend of what seems to be an earnest game.

My final year dissertation focused on Moby-Dick and the history of American whaling. I am so down to play this game. Also the idea that Ishmael is saved from the Pequod, only to return home and rise the ranks to become a captain to go out again in the hopes of killing the white whale. Insane, but also kind of unexpected… Did he not learn anything? I guess the whale or the whiteness of the whale does mean a lot to other people…

Or maybe they thought people would find a Moby Dick game more acceptable than a whale hunting sim.

TBH I would rather play as the whale.