• December 22, 2014

Video games adapted from books: More, please?

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Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 9:00 am

Did you know that Assassin’s Creed was inspired by a novel? You do now! One of the inspirations for the game is purportedly a 1938 novel titled Alamut. I know I keep coming back to this series like it’s paying me and not the other way around, but I’d wager a lot of my fellow gamers didn't know that.

And no, when I say video game book adaptations, I’m not talking about the series of Assassin’s Creed novels based on the games. For the record: Yes, I’ve read them, and they blow. Not even Die-Hard Fan over here is going to sugarcoat that for you. I’m talking about video games taking inspiration from novels.

When I learned about Alamut, I was reminded of an article that The Escapist’s Yahtzee Croshaw wrote in February 2012 called “Why Movie Adaptations of Games Suck.” He made the point at the end of the article that novels, being collaborations between author’s pen and audience’s imagination, have much in common with the interactive medium of video games. Give the article a read! Yahtzee makes the point better than I can here.

So now I’m thinking: What else is there for us on our bookshelves? I’m going to look up at my own now and give some ideas for new games based on the first things I see.

Mysteries? So Frogwares has already cornered the market on Sherlock Holmes, but come on! He’s not the only detective in the world. How about Nero Wolfe? Not a lot of people have heard of him, so no one’s beholden to canon. Wolfe is also, despite being a genius, a complete hausfrau who doesn’t trouble himself with the legwork. Cue the player taking the role of his handsome young PA, Archie Goodwin. Let’s get Corey Burton and Troy Baker to do the voices!

What about Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? I know that was a text-based adventure game back in the 1980s, but why not make a new episodic game series on it? If they can do Fables, they can do Douglas Adams’ doorstopper. His work practically calls for the dab hand of a video game, capable as they are of creating fantasy worlds while simultaneously keeping several sprawling back story narratives afloat.

I’m just getting started, and I’ve got a big shelf! What about the notoriously problematic Zane Grey Westerns? A horror game aboard the real ghost ship Mary Celeste? An RPG set in The Dresden Files universe, based on the existing tabletop RPG?

Are you seeing my point? There’s a whole wealth of material just waiting, and who knows? It might even draw attention to the books themselves! Get on it, studios!

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