The Beowulf Game by Chance

Click here to play the Beowulf Game by Chance:

Beowulf: The Game

By Chance Rashid

I chose to create a small video game representing the first half of the text Beowulf. The game runs from the start of the novel to the end of the fight with Grendel. I chose to end the game here for multiple reasons, one of them being obvious time constraints, with the others being around general game design. Grendel already fulfills the role of a final boss from most perspectives, and I feel like adding Grendel’s mother undermines the boss fight.

Creating this game felt like trying to find the right balance between telling a story and creating real game elements. Many parts of this game fall more into line with telling the story, as I didn’t want to take too many creative liberties with Beowulf’s story and chose to rather have a linear direction that the player is forced to follow. This way the actual story of Beowulf is followed rather than just exploring a large world. I also chose to ignore the prelude to the story of Grendel as I did not feel like it would be included in a game as it does not really center around Beowulf, more so around the larger context of the story.

The game starts with a cinematic story world which follows with the text’s introduction to Grendel, which has him rising from the “wild marshes” (Beowulf 17-18). The game then moves forward to the mead hall which shows soldiers who are currently sleeping through the night. The mead hall is decorated with tables and glasses to show that the soldiers had just had a night of drinking (32). While the text says that they are sound asleep in their beds (Beowulf 33, 38), I chose to portray them asleep at the tables to exaggerate the drinking that had just taken place, which I may not have been able to show at all had I chosen to use beds instead.

The cutscene officially ends there and starts gameplay with Beowulf on the boat that he “commanded” (Beowulf 113). The boat itself is an area to explore and allows you to interact with multiple non-player characters (NPC), as well as collect an item from a chest. Once you decide to dock the boat, another short cutscene plays which has Wulfgar bring Beowulf to a castle. I decided to have the meeting with King Hrothgar take place inside a castle, rather than at the mead hall in order to really show the power of the King through imagery instead of through text. I would like the game to make sense without having any prior knowledge of Beowulf and some of the creative decisions I chose to implement are based on that idea. After exploring the castle, you can interact with Hrothgar in order to take you to the fight with Grendel.

While Beowulf traditionally uses literally nothing to fight Grendel, as no weapon is able to damage him (Beowulf 325), I chose to provide both armour and a weapon that can be gained through exploring the map. One reason I chose to do this was that it encourages the player to not just speed through the short game and instead to actually look around and get rewarded for it. I did, however, try to keep some of the spirit of Beowulf’s fight with Grendel by providing a special attack that can be used in battle called ‘Grapple’ that would weaken Grendel for the rest of the fight. While the sword and armour are available, neither of them are required to beat Grendel, but certainly would require some extra luck in order to win. I don’t feel as though this takes away from the story, as a sword is an important part of being a warrior. The fight is pretty straightforward from the player’s stance, as I wanted it to be a win the majority of the time, while still making it rewarding for the player as it often feels close. After the fight, the game cuts to a celebration in the mead hall with Hrothgar, some of his men, Beowulf and Beowulf’s fellow warriors. This is the conclusion of the game, as anything past this would require Grendel’s mother.

One of the challenges of creating this game was working with the limited knowledge I had surrounding the program, general time constraints, as well as limitations with the program as a whole. While the program is well-used in some circumstances, it is rather old which makes learning about tips for how to make things happen rather limited, and resources for the program virtually non-existent. I limited myself to the resources provided in the base program to create the game, as I don’t have the time or the skill to create all new art for different models, which in turn limited the designs of certain characters and the maps. These resources allowed me to get semi-accurate images of the world and characters that I wished to include, but to also have them stylized to help someone who had no knowledge of Beowulf understand the importance of characters just by looking at them. In addition, many of the characters in Beowulf had very little physical descriptions and rather had descriptions of their personalities.

Another challenge that I faced was just generally working within the confines of basing the game on a previously existing work. As I previously mentioned, I did not want to take too many creative liberties with the work as it would no longer feel like Beowulf anymore. In the same vein, I would have loved to also give it more of my own twist, where you are exploring an entire world as Beowulf, and the fight with Grendel is just one of many quests on a longer journey. I am really curious to see where this would have gone if I had the time to create an entire game built around Beowulf, providing new quests, enemies, and friends to meet along the way.

The final challenge that I have had, is making the game in a way so that someone who has little to no experience with games would be able to actually experience the game as a whole. Having to submit a video game for an assignment is very different from creating a game for people who are consistently playing video games and do not need to have their hand held in any way.

Creating a game with the text allowed me to interact with a text in a way that I had never really done before, as I was effectively making an adaptation of Beowulf. This required thinking about different plot points and their relevance to the story, as well as how relevant they would be in a game. I know going into the education field I would love to use adaptations in one way or another as a way to help students interact and learn about certain texts in ways that are untraditional. I hope to use some of the knowledge that I gained while working on this to create lessons that I can use in the future.


All Image Credit Goes To The Creators of RPGMAKER XP & The Designers Who Created

The Original Tiles & Sprites

Works Cited:

Beowulf: second edition. Translated by R.M. Liuzza. Broadview editions. 2013.





How to cite this research:

Rashid, Chance. "The Beowulf Game." In Reading the Middle Ages, supvr. Teresa Russo, Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MARS), Brock University, March 2023, Niagara (The Beowulf Game by Chance · Reading the Middle Ages: Oral and Literate Cultures · Brock University Library). Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL), Tim Ribaric and Daniel Brett.

Prev Next