‘Tolkien’ the cultural phenomenon is far bigger than J. R. R. Tolkien the author, or even J. R. R. Tolkien the author-and-oeuvre. When Christopher Tolkien asserted in 2012 that his father’s legacy has been rendered monstrous he blamed its fate on the gross depredations of commercialization generally and the Warner Bros’ franchise in particular. Explorations of – and encomiums on – the afterlives of Tolkien’s novels generally focus on the impact of Peter Jackson’s films. The forces which have shaped contemporary ‘Tolkien’ are not only commercial however; fans also ‘do things’ with Tolkien’s writings. The drive to make money has played a significant part in shaping Tolkien’s legacy, but audience engagements and technological change have also been highly significant as this article demonstrates through an exploration of digital games (computer and console) which adapt Tolkien’s writings from the 1970s to the present. The article considers both licensed and unlicensed games, and both fan and franchise practices and creations.



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