Why Some Worlds Fail Observations on the Relationship Between Intertextuality, Intermediality, and Transmediality in the Resident Evil and Silent Hill Universes

Von Martin Hennig

Both the Resident Evil and the Silent Hill series were among the most famous and successful franchises of video game culture until the film adaptations appeared, which initiated a slow but unstoppable decline. The films remained artistically independent, but the game experience of the following parts of the game series increasingly converged with the movies. The Resident Evil series put the focus on more action instead of horror and puzzles and the Silent Hill series adapted itself to the narrative design and dramaturgy of the cinematic franchise. This resulted in both game worlds no longer being able to replicate their earlier artistic and economic successes—the most recent parts, Resident Evil 6 (2012) and Silent Hill. Downpour (2012), were considered the low points of the series. In this article, reasons for this loss are discussed by describing the processes in both transmedial franchises with the related concepts of intermediality and intertextuality. A starting point of this article is the assumption that each storyworld includes a specific set of general rules (characters, settings, conflicts, etc.), which can be varied to a certain degree in a transmedial adaptation. Nevertheless, video games seem to include mediaspecific rules whose violation within the same medium is perceived as a break in the structural coherence of the storyworld. A closer look at the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series indicates that, in these cases, new releases are considered to stand in an intermedial or intertextual, but no longer in a transmedial relationship to the original texts.