Continuing the vogue for modern updates of her fiction, a new Jane Austen game is set to launch on Facebook. Whether players who make their way through a virtual Regency society will suffer the indignity of the social network's trademark courtship signal of "poking" remains to be seen.
The Rogues and Romance game, developed by BBC Worldwide in partnership with Legacy Interactive, is set in the world of Austen's six novels, where her most famous couple, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, have escaped from the pages of Pride and Prejudice. Players must hunt them down and convince them back into the book, along the way taking their place in society where they will be able to leave calling cards, attend and host receptions and pursue courtships.
Key locations from the books have been recreated for the game, such as the Bath Pump Room from Northanger Abbey, where "the ladies … [walk] about together, noticing every new face, and almost every new bonnet in the room", and the dining room at Hartfield in Emma. Players will have their own manor houses, which they will be able to decorate, and will also be able to dress up in a range of Regency-era costumes.
Although Austen's novels have inspired adaptations from the zombie remix Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to the film Clueless, this is the first time an online social game has been based on the author's work, according to its creators. Describing Rogues and Romance as a "fun romp of a game that celebrates the world of Jane Austen", BBC Worldwide's Robert Nashak said that "social interaction is at the core of Austen's work and we felt that was a concept we could explore that had a natural synergy with Facebook".
Legacy's chief executive Ariella Lehrer is a member of The Jane Austen Society of North America, and regularly attends their meetings to discuss the clothing, dancing, food, medicine and literature of the period. "I am a 'Janeite' of long standing and thrilled to be able to translate my secret obsession into a fun social game," she said. "We are determined to deliver an experience that passionate Austen fans will love, as well as game players who know of Austen but have never read her novels."
Rogues and Romance is due to launch in beta in March.