Friday, May 31, 2013

Can Kipling Sell Video Games?

As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

While watching some video clips on Youtube recently, I came across a commerical for an upcoming video game release, Destiny. My stepson, an avid Halo fan, had mentioned this game to me previously, but as a non-Halo player myself, it held little interest.

This commerical has me curious, but not to play the game as much as to consider the poem being used by the production to promote the game. In this short clip, Giancarlo Esposito (most recently seen as Gus Fring on AMC's Breaking Bad, reciting some select lines from "The Law for the Wolves," commonly referred to as "The Law of the Jungle" due to its source, Rudyard Kipling's novel The Second Jungle Book.

In the original Jungle Book, Kipling sets forth an actual set of legal codes used by wolves and other animals in the jungles of India. It is in the Chapter Two of The Second Jungle Book, that Kipling provides a poem, featuring the Law of the Jungle as known to the Wolves, and as taught to their cubs. As an English teacher, I have on occassion used this poem as an example of a personal code of ethics set forth in literature, eventually inviting students to translate and update the tenants set forth in a more human (and modern) context.

Given the videgame pedigree of Destiny, there is little doubt that it will make money, and even less doubt that the link to Kipling will not be seen as a determining factor in its overall success. It is, however, interesting to see traditional "classic" literature (and British Lit, no less!) seep into the world of advertising. The visual translation of Kipling's "The Law for the Wolves" into such futuristic and accessible (to younger consumers) is a tremendous reminder of classic literature's ongoing relevance when presented in interesting and unique contexts.

"The Law for the Wolves" in its entirety is available for reading (and sharing) at here.

"The Law of the Jungle" entry on Wikipedia.

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