LITERARY GAME THEORY AND THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE IN SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT, THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, AND KIMETSU NO YAIBA
Cultural Game Theory began as a historical/anthropological interpretation of games as integral to culture and society. Over time, the understanding of games expanded to include the playful dynamics that occur in literary texts. This thesis applies cultural game theory to explore the idea of a godgame in three literary texts. In godgames, characters act as gamemasters, the ones who control and manipulate the other characters. Characters as gamemasters not only control the games, but their roles are hidden from the understanding of the other characters: the gamemasters thus act as directors, the gods who function as unknown but influential deities. As I will show in this thesis, when gamemasters take action to change other players’ fortunes, they come to symbolize the Roman Goddess Fortuna’s control over people on her Wheel; as a result, the gamemasters’ games function as metaphorical Wheels.
This thesis studies several literary texts representing different genres to explore how concepts of the goddess Fortuna influence the tactics of these gamemasters: Morgan la Faye from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Edmond Dantès from The Count of Monte Cristo, and Muzan Kibutsuji from Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer). Using this type of theoretical approach, I will show how each of these characters possess a hidden, controlling power over their respective gamespaces, but whose unique personalities reveal different extents of a gamemaster’s power over the game while in conflict with their players, who work to dismantle and control the game themselves.