Mattia Bellini

Panel 2C: Inferno in Videogames
Session 2 – July 1, 15:30 – 17:00

 Videoludic Images of Hell and Western Literary Culture

Hell is a theme widely present in video games, both metaphorically intended as “hell on earth” and actually presented as “proper hell”. Understandably, different games provide different perspectives over and -nuances of- this transmedial object, which appears to be an endless source of inspiration for game designers. The diversification of images of Hell in the western videoludic culture comes partly from the genres to which each of these games belong, and partly from the sources on these representations. Indeed, in drawing their respective images of hell, many games take inspiration from classical representations, from the Greek-Roman Tartarus featured in titles like God of War and Hades, to the Christian (and often overtly Dantesque) Inferno, model for Sadie’s Story of Halo 3 ODST and Dante’s Inferno. Following Ciccoricco’s analysis of the adaptation of Hellenic mythology in a video game (Ciccoricco, 2010), my presentation will explore the specificities of the different remediations of classical hell in the Narrative Architectures (Jenkins, 2003) of different games.
I will also offer some thoughts on how different game genres, their gameplay mechanics, and their ludo-narrative design (Aarseth, 2012) impacted on the type and amplitude of the intermedial phenomena employed to remediate images of classical hell and its inhabitants.
By juxtaposing different images of Hell, I will highlight the kinds of adaptations required for the adoption by the video game medium of this ancient and multifaceted environment, and the key properties dictated to its representation by the participatory medium of video game (cf. Thon, 2015).
Privileging the variety of examples over the in-depth analysis of fewer cases will arguably help me gain a broader perspective on different strategies, with a view to ultimately drawing conclusions that have better chances to resist «the temptation to regard the idiosyncrasies of
individual texts as features of the medium» (Ryan, 2004)


Mattia Bellini is a doctoral researcher in the research group on Narrative, Culture, and Cognition ( of the University of Tartu, Estonia, and a Management Committee Substitute in the EU COST Action 18230 – Interactive Narrative Design for Complexity Representations ( He holds a Master’s Degree in
Modern Philology from the University of Milan, but his background also includes experiences in business management and web design. His previous research topics included storytelling for video games, humanistic Human-Computer Interaction and Procedural Content
Generation via Machine Learning. His current research at the University of Tartu focuses on complexity, interactive narratives and narratology in video games.