The BBC and Lonely Planet have posted a “Mini guide to Kafka’s Prague,” which begins with the claim that though Kafka never mentions Prague in his fiction “his tales of totalitarian bureaucracy were greatly influenced by the city.” They then proceed to demonstrate this influence by listing some hotels and telling you about the Kafka Museum.
Granted, two-page tour guides are supposed to be superficial, but this one really plumbs the shallows. The mention of Kafka’s former workplace (and current-day hotel) as another influence on his work is followed by this profound observation: “He would often moan to his friends about the difficulties of balancing his day job and his writing.” Oh well, I guess that’s a form of influence.
They don’t even mention that you can stay in Kafka’s former office, equipped with photos of his parents above the bed, a gallery of his various amours above the TV and hair-dryer, and with a large extract from a page of his work on the wall.
In spite of the evidence presented on the streets of Prague, Kafka isn’t only a seminal figure for the tourist industry. His relevance reaches many other areas of human endeavor, such as . . . video games. Russian game developer mif2000 appears to be mining a particular strain of dark, doubt-ridden literary classic and after having come up with the successful game Hamlet is introducing The Franz Kafka Videogame.
The game will reportedly be a blend of different Kafkaesque ideas as opposed to any of the writer’s individual storylines, which actually corresponds quite well with most people’s conception of his work in the first place.
It turns out that there is already at least one Kafka computer game in existence. Kafkamêsto is an Australian game that has some nice animation, though I couldn’t really figure out how to play it (though that was undoubtedly my fault).
I say Crime and Punishment comes next, though after killing the pawnbroker (spoiler, sorry!) I’m not sure what the game would consist of.
Photo – 1) Screenshot from The Franz Kafka Videogame/mif2000, 2) Franz Kafka’s former office at the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute, now a hotel room, where traveling businessmen awkwardly try to watch pay-per-view porn while being stared at by Felice Bauer (left, not cut off), Dora Diamant (right) and Milena Jesenská (second from right) among others.