Our discussions of Little Inferno formed the pilot course for Video Game Academy, and they still stand up as a great introduction to the game and to our whole approach to game studies. Enjoy!

As always, we recommend spending some time within the game before giving these a listen, as spoilers abound. If you have time, the readings we touch on in the course of the discussion are well worth a look. For a first playthrough (or a first read on these), a few hours might be sufficient; but like a great book, Little Inferno will repay repeated readings.

Suggested Reading:

Tomorrow Corporation

  • Context about the game and its creators, as well as links to get the game and its (free! amazing!) soundtrack

Plato’s Cave: Republic, Bk VII

  • The allegorical representation of levels of reality and freedom as formulated by Socrates is closely mirrored within the game

Dante, The Divine Comedy

  • The Inferno is the best-known and clearly referenced by the game’s title, but as we’ll touch on, Purgatory and Paradise are implicitly there, too, in the course of the story. The text is helpfully digitized, and listening to a wonderful open course commentary or two can enrich your reading

Tolkien, “On Fairy-stories”

  • We refer to The Lord of the Rings quite a bit, fans of Tolkien as we are, but “On Fairy-stories,” along with “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics,” supplies the crucial theoretical outlines for how we look at fantasy and stories in general

You might also be interested in our courses on Pony Island, The Hex, and Undertale, all of which strike similarly meta-narrative notes. Note that another fire-related game, Firewatch, also treats of these themes of distraction and reality. Coincidence? We suspect it is all part of the general conflagration.