Let me start by saying that computer games are not the downfall of society, as we know it. Our world will continue to turn, society will continue to function, we will still play sports, kids will still go to school and learn, human beings will still interact with one another and people will still read books. Just like television did not result in the extinction of literature, computer games will continue to co-exist with the written story.
In fact, the two can go together quite nicely.
There are many book fans who like to play computer games. As a kid, I was obsessed with Space Invaders and Galaga (primitive by today’s standards) and these days I’m certainly not immune to the allure of the Wii (Snow Ride on Rayman Raving Rabbids is awesome). And I’m sure that there are many computer game enthusiasts who also like to read. At least I hope so … ’cause my new book, Gamers’ Quest, is set in a computer game world and I think it’s the sort of book that will appeal to teens who are into gaming.
When writing science fiction or fantasy, an author is often challenged with the task of creating an entire world. With Gamers’ Quest, I was not only writing science fiction (with a healthy dose of fantasy elements as well), I was also trying to tap into the world of computer gaming. The thing is… how do you capture the feel of a computer game within the pages of a novel?
Step One was to create a world with the pace and excitement of a game — a world in which danger lurked around every corner; a world with a variety of fantastical challenges and opponents, from powerful mages and fierce dragons to machinegun-toting guards and sophisticated security systems with trip lasers and automated drones; a world in which players embarked on a perilous quest.
This world then needed protagonists who readers could identify with … the sort of players they would want to be if they were playing the game. Enter Tark and Zyra, two teenage thieves — good-looking, fast, clever, determined and skillful in a fight.
The book also needed to have a sense of fun — of not taking itself too seriously. So while Gamers’ Quest is not a humourous novel, it does have an element of tongue-in-cheek unseriousness (yes, I know there’s no such word … but I like it).
There are lots of little things I added to try and capture the computer game flavour. There are references to different classes and levels of player (knight second class; level 13 mage).
The first part of the novel is set within the computer-game world. It is non-stop action, and there is no sense of night and day. The characters simply progress from one challenge to the next, without sleeping or eating, with no real sense of time, until they reach their goal. Once the characters have crossed over into an ordinary suburban environment, I felt okay about slowing things down a little, allowing them to eat and sleep, and having a sense of days passing.
So, were my endeavors successful? Does Gamers’ Quest capture the feel of a computer game? Will gamers flock to bookstores, clamoring for a copy? Well, dear reader/gamer, that is up to you. The CG ball is now in your virtual court.
William’s note: As a gamer and reader myself, I have to say, that George really did capture the sensation of being inside a video game. There isn’t an air of “older person writing for young people” about the whole thing, which is great, because us young’uns, especially us cynical gamer young’uns, can smell a fake a mile off. Gamers’ Quest passed my test with flying colours, and it’d make a great companion for the new Mario game under the tree this Christmas. 🙂