"Gaming Lore: The New Mythology"

Gaming Lore: The New Mythology by Sam Hawes

Mythology can be loosely defined as the stories that help shape societies and the study of mythology can give great insight into human behavior, morals, politics and many other aspects of human history. If you examine mythology from around the world you can see many similar themes and characteristics and in my foray into the gaming world, I have discovered many similarities between the myth of ancient times and the game lore of our generation. In our evolving world that moves ever more into the technological sphere we see even the most ancient of stories being brought through into our modern world. For interest sake I wish to examine just a few examples of ancient figures and their stories that have made it into the game lore and thus are preserved as modern day mythology. To begin I must turn to one of the most well known games that features ancient Greek mythology, God of War.

 There are few gamers, even among the pc exclusive gamers, that have not heard of the epic series that is God of War. The series focuses on the ancient spartan warrior Kratos who, at war with himself and those that have aided in the destruction of his own humanity, endeavors to avenge himself upon the Gods whom he perceives as the cause of his spiritual and mental anguish. Kratos is the embodiment of the ‘antihero’ and performs this role exceedingly well in his quest to save his soul and relieve himself of the self inflicted agony that stemmed from the deeds of his past. Although being named after the ancient Greek figure of Cratus, the human personification of strength and power, further examination of ancient Greek mythology reveals another similar character, also beset by the horror of murdering his own children and seeking guidance from the gods in penance, this hero is Herakles (commonly referred to as Hercules). A great warrior and father of three, this antihero brutally murdered his wife and children in a moment of insanity and in his sorrow set out to complete 12 labors to atone for his crime. The labors of Hercules and the journey of Kratos represent a journey of growth for these two men and their deeds along the way provide many great moments shared with audiences both ancient and modern.

 The stereotypical figure of the antihero is found in many games and their similarities to the most well known of the ancient Greek heroes are notable. Most notable figures from the past, found in video games, include Altair of the Assassins Creed series and Dante of the Devil may Cry legacy. A great many others not mentioned exist but a fair number may be found in the popular free-to-play League of Legends universe. One such antihero is Cassiopeia.

 Queen Cassiopeia, wife of king Cepheus of Ancient Ethiopia, is typically depicted in mythology as a beautiful but arrogant figure. Her story and that of her daughter Andromeda were immortalized on the silverscreen in the 1981 film Clash of the Titans. The film follows the journey of Perseus as he attempts to save Andromeda from a terrible fate. The mythology tells us that the Queen in her pride insulted the gods by claiming her daughter to be fairer of face than the Nereids (daughters of Poseidon) or, alternatively in the movie retelling, fairer even than Aphrodite herself. This moment of boastfulness brings down the wrath of the Gods upon Cassiopeia’s people and culminates in the near total destruction of the city of Argos by the legendary Kraken. As revenge upon Cassiopeia, upon the defeat of the Kraken, Poseidon cast the boastful woman into the stars and she became a constellation resembling the figure of a woman upon a throne of torture.  Cassiopeia of the League of Legends personifies this arrogance but her appearance brings to mind another myth taken from ancient Greece, that of Medusa.

 Greek mythology is full of tales of male gods’ sexual expoits and Poseidon, master of the Seas, was no stranger to the temptations of the flesh. Medusa was a famous golden haired priestess of the temple of Athena, much loved and sought by many suitors from around Greece. The lord Poseidon heard of her fabled beauty and was determined to take her for himself. The god of the seas appeared before Medusa in the temple of Athena and raped her upon the altar despite her pleas to her mistress for sanctuary. Upon seeing Medusa’s defilement in her sacred temple, the goddess turned the beautiful Medusa’s golden curls into deadly snakes and transformed her eyes into a terrible weapon, making all those that dared look into her eyes transform instantly to stone. This transformation turned the beautiful woman into a terrible vengeful monster that ultimately was slain by the hero Perseus. In the League of Legends lore, we see how Cassiopeia used her beauty to gain information, she would seduce men in order to pry political secrets for use by her father,and how the abuse of her beauty ultimately led her to becoming a monster.

 We can see from the above mentioned mythological figures that it is the story as well as the hero that carry a symbolic meaning and in ancient times these messages were used to teach the next generation about their cultural background and instill in them the correct way to behave in their society. Using the above mentioned Hercules and Kratos as an example, the audience is taught the value of using not only your physical attributes of strength or fighting prowess to go through life, but to instead use your other talents, like bravery or intelligence, in order to overcome any obstacle you may face (the 12 labors of Hercules and the many obstacles and puzzles that Kratos conquers) on your journey to the betterment of your soul. The figure of Cassiopeia teaches us that boastfulness and arrogance may lead to trouble and that beauty is to be cherished, but the the glorification of beauty above other characteristics may have severe consequences.

 The universal themes that are present in the ancient mythology are brought through into modern stories through this game lore so we may think of gaming lore as the mythology for the technological age.




Powell, B. (2009). Classical Myth 6th Ed. Pearson & Longman Publishing.

Murgatroyd, P. (2007). Mythical Monsters in Classical Literature. Duckworth Pulishing.


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Subsequent Email Communique'

“The universal themes that are present in the ancient mythology are brought through into modern stories through this game lore so we may think of gaming lore as the mythology for the technological age.”

That should spark a long dinner conversation with too much red wine, Sam. I’m game.

Fast Forward?

I think the classic myths are tired and should be put aside. My work, (see: http://NewMythologist.com) energizes permaculture, transition and other Chaos Era movements for New Myths (http://www.planetshifter.com/node/1855).

We can make New Myths together and not for passive electro-games!


Hi Willi, I have read through some of your reworkings and i agree that this type of innovation with regards to mythology is necessary. I do not however agree that the old myth can be completely disregarded. It was such an important part of our history and the forming of cultures that they should not be put aside but rather used in conjunction with new mythology. The whole point of mythology was to instill the ideals of one generation into the next and the study of mythology has given historians unique insight into ancient culture....


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