Friday, June 5, 2009

Games And Books 6/5/2009

A screenshot from the computer puzzle-adventure title realMyst (Cyan, Inc.; 2002-Mac version). A puzzle is shown. This is a copyleft image.

Games And Books 6/5/2009

I am thinking about something which I find rather interesting. A number of computer games are fusing with books. One of these is . It is cross between a choose your own adventure fantasy novel and a roleplaying game. I enjoyed the first five books of the Lone Wolf series. They are free.

In Japan 80% of computer games are what are called "visual novels", a mix of anime art, text, and simple games. I tried out a visual novel earlier called "Fatal Hearts" which is from Hanako Games an independent games publisher. Parts of it were quite interesting. The game is really designed for teenage girls.

This is an article from Galleycat, it talks about how the online computer game, World of Warcraft spun off a series of paperbacks from Simon and Schuster. The article includes a link to another article by Eric Nylund on how to get video gamers to read books. Eric Nylund writes books based on the Halo computer game.

In a way, I am not surprised there is a built in market for fantasy and science fiction novels for many computer gamers. Many games I have played have built icons for books with short stories inside them. It is also not that uncommon to see people write fan fiction for computer games as well. I enjoyed reading Halo: The Cole Protocol by Tobias Buckell. There are numerous ties in between games and books now.

Paizo Press which has a pulp fiction line with its Planet Stories imprint prints the a series of novels by Gary Gygax the man who created the original Dungeons and Dragons fantasy game. This is a link to his fantasy novel, The Anubis Murders

Games are a form of storytelling. Some games have as much or more text than a novel in them. For example, I am guessing that a large novel will have about 1 megabyte of text in it. If you compare this to a 500 megabyte file for the independent computer game, Geneforge 5, Overthrow there are 500 times as many characters in the file as in an average book. There is probably more text in this game than several fantasy novels. This was produced in a year by a single company, Spiderweb Software.

This is also true of many adventure games. People have a tendency to dismiss this kind of reading as not "real" reading because it is not in the same format as a book. With the newer games they can be multi-gigabyte files which can easily include ebooks, video, anime, comics, audio, and other material inside a completed game.

We have computer games in our library. I think if you understand computer games, it is possible to use them as a lead in to reading books, especially books which tie-in to the games as well as cover similar themes to the stories being told. Books, audiobooks, games, are all a form of storytelling. Games are being sold as a package now. For example with Halo, the computer game, I can buy graphic novels, trade paperback books, and the computer game. Even the older franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars have been turned into a complete package with games, computer games, books, music, ebooks, and other merchandise.

As an afterthought, some of the larger online games include libraries built into them. World of Warcraft has a librarians guild and features several in game sections which are called libraries. Star Wars features the Jedi Archives in some of its games. Also if you consider virtual worlds as games, Second Life has a place in it called Info Island with a virtual library of many of the classic novels as ebooks inside the virtual world.

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