Ulysses to Become Virtual Reality Game

August 7, 2014

James Joyce’s notoriously daunting modernist tome, Ulysses, is being adapted into a virtual reality video game to appeal to a larger reading public.

Irish filmmaker Eoghan Kidney undertook the project to offer players (and bibliophiles) “a great primer to discovering what makes Ulysses such a special book,” he said on his Fund It page, a crowdfunding website he used to raise the €4,000 he needed to carry out his project. By last week, he had surpassed his goal by €500; all funding will go toward hardware and software purchases, a voice actor, scene development, and illustrations.

In a video, he explained how players would experience Joyce’s wild and allusive stream-of-consciousness style while concurrently in the mind of Stephen Dedalus. “As a user of ‘In Ulysses’ walks along a virtual Sandymount Strand, the book will be read to them—they will hear Stephen’s thoughts as they are written—but these thoughts will then be illustrated around the user in real time using textual annotations, images, and links,” Kidney said. “A user can stop walking (therefore stopping Stephen walking) and explore these illustrations, gaining insight into the book, and adding to the enjoyment of it.”

Kidney is currently designing the game in Unreal Engine 3 for virtual reality headsets such as Oculus Rift, but plans to make it available for computers as well as iOS and Android devices.

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