Claws and Controllers: Werewolves and Lycanthropy in Digital Games

Bridging a host of narrative and procedural genres, werewolves feature prominently in videogames as characters to control, enemies to kill, and allies to assist. Yet, despite the broad range of werewolf depictions found in games, there is a relative paucity of research examining how games depict werewolves and how these depictions relate to the mythos writ large. To address gamic werewolves specifically, this essay performs close readings of several games, notably The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006) and The Sims 2: Pets (2006). The readings are guided by the works of media scholars, including Alexander Galloway, Ian Bogost, Souvik Mukherjee, Tom Tyler and others. In analysing werewolf avatar gameplay, this essay proposes that some gamic werewolves encourage players to acknowledge and value animal alterity, human animality, and human-animal relations. Additionally, these werewolves foster ‘becomings’ for players, allowing them to understand hybridity and liminality experientially.

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Talking with the Wolf Man

Individuals self-identifying as lycanthropes appear to be engaged in an ongoing negotiation of what can broadly be considered empowerment and stigmatisation from considering themselves capable of physically undergoing metamorphosis into werewolves and back. Before this study, there was still much to understand about how such individuals discursively construct their identities, and the cultural resources used to aid their identity claims. To better understand this area, interviews were carried out using a discourse analytic methodology to give a voice to the ‘wolf man’ exploring what it means to claim a lycanthrope identity, ‘undergo’ metamorphosis and to enact the werewolf.

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Dirty, Wild Beasts! Representations of the Homeless as Werewolves in Horror Films from Werewolf of London (1935) to Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

This study will look at the ways in which the homeless in America have been correlated with the figure of the werewolf in horror films since the 1940s. Coming out of the Great Depression of the 1930s and the increasing migration of people from small towns into the cities after WWII, the homeless signified both a return to the past and an uncontrolled and controllable element of the population. Films such as Werewolf of London (Walker: 1935) and The Wolf Man (Waggener: 1941) will be examined to demonstrate how the werewolf is constructed to represent poverty and homelessness and the contagious nature of both. The present study will further show, in light of films like the Underworld (2003-present) series, that these signifiers remain part of contemporary configurations of lycanthropy, particularly since the global economic crisis of 2008.

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Salu’ah: The She-Wolf of Arabia

This paper reviews a number of folktales that represent the Salu’ah, the she-wolf of Arabia. Telling the tale of a monster roaming the deserts of Arabia looking for men to devour, narratives about the nature of the Salu’ah are charged with horror. Her demonic nature shifts her from human to animal. But, her gender questions the very structures that abject her as a monster and a female. The discussion analyses how the narrative functions within the Bedouin social environment. It considers how the imagery within these narratives generates an image of the context in which this myth operates. Through a psychoanalytic reading of the narratives, the paper analyses how the myth shifts the social hierarchies to empower the feminine. It reviews the role of her transformation into the maternal and how it contributes to the figure of the werewolf as a female and as a monster. These narratives invert gender structures of heteronormative discourse when the monstrous feminine in the she-wolf destroys the location of its abjection that functions within the patriarchal discourse. The exaggeration of her abjection highlights her as an emasculator. She is a mother that devours. The Salu’ah emerges as more powerful than men of the desert where the Bedouin man is perceived to be the hero. She represents his most horrific fears.

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Clemence Housman’s The Were-Wolf: A Cautionary Tale for the Progressive New Woman

Clemence Housman’s little-studied novel The Were-Wolf (1896) gives voice to fin de siècle anxieties surrounding changing roles for women. Just as other ‘monstrous’ texts of the period tackle these fears so too does Housman’s novel, but in the unique form of a werewolf story. A great deal of scholarship has been devoted to nineteenth-century representations of vampires, but comparatively little work has been done on less-frequently occurring werewolves.  The figure of the werewolf embodies contradictions and allows Housman to tackle false dichotomies that plagued women at the end of the century – dutiful wife and mother or single, professional woman – and highlights both the potential and the danger of the New Woman. Her werewolf identity mirrors the rupture that results from trying to embody ‘conflicting’ roles, and it emphasizes White Fell’s inability to conform to societal expectations for women. While on the surface the novel can be read as a simple Christian allegory, it also functions as a cautionary tale for the progressive New Woman. The story warns that the New Woman’s strength and deviance from accepted norms will be perceived as dangerous signs of societal decline, and that more conservative individuals will attempt to destroy her progress.

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Lycanthropic Landscapes: An EcoGothic Reading of Nineteenth-Century Werewolf Short Stories

As a hybrid creature, being both human and animal, the werewolf is in a unique position to interact with both rural and urban landscapes – yet this relationship is critically neglected. This article utilises an EcoGothic perspective to interrogate how werewolves influence these settings, specifically examining tales published in the long nineteenth century because this era underwent significant environmental changes, such as the Industrial Revolution, the introduction of new plants and animals, and the extinction of native species. Authors utilized werewolves, and in particular the short story form, to examine the impact these changes had. This article postulates that werewolf literature is representative of a nostalgia for a bygone age as a direct reaction to Industrialisation; that werewolf literature is the most apt genre to demonstrate a conflict between the human world and the natural environment because of its hybrid state; that werewolves prefer nature in both their animal and human forms, indicating an affinity for this landscape; that nature returns this preferential treatment through subtly influencing the narrative and by claiming back human settlements; and that this harking back to a purer ‘natural’ landscape pre-figures our own ecological outlook.

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