Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between the study of adaptation and the study of new media. In particular, it approaches new media through media historian Gitelman’s framework of protocols—the interrelated technological and social norms that support technology use. Looking across several new media theorists, I suggest that the protocols of new media encourage us to rethink adaptation in technological terms. Using video games as a case study, I argue that adaptation suggests not only the preservation of narratives, themes, and rhythms but also a keen recognition of technical constraints and social practices, both within the original medium and its adaptive counterpart. Moreover, because the protocols of these systems are socially constructed, it is up to us to determine both what and how these representations signify. Viewing adaptation from a protocols framework encourages both audiences and producers to recognize the consequences of media use.

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