Shared from the 2017-03-18 Chattanooga eEdition

Students turn James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ into a VR game

BOSTON — Students are developing a virtual reality game based on James Joyce’s “Ulysses” as part of a class at Boston College.

The goal of “Joycestick” is to expose new audiences to the works of one of Ireland’s most celebrated authors, as well as give a glimpse of how virtual reality can be used to enhance literature, said Joseph Nugent, the Boston College English professor who is coordinating the project.

“This is a new way to experience the power of a novel,” he said.

Nugent and his students hope to release a version of the game on June 16 in Dublin during Bloomsday, the city’s annual celebration of the author and novel.

Considered the epitome of the 1920s-era modernist literature, “Ulysses” traces a day in the life of an ordinary Dubliner named Leopold Bloom. The title reflects how the novel draws parallels between Bloom’s day and “The Odyssey,” the ancient Greek epic.

“Joycestick” isn’t meant to be a straight re-telling of “Ulysses,” which in some versions runs nearly 650 pages long, said Evan Otero, a Boston College junior helping develop the game.

Instead, the game lets users explore a handful of key environments described in the book, from a military tower where the novel opens to a cafe in Paris significant to the protagonist’s past.

It’s also not a typical video game in the sense of having tasks to complete, enemies to defeat or points to rack up. For now, users can simply explore the virtual environments at their leisure. Touching certain objects triggers readings from the novel.

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