Video Games and Writing? It’s more common than you think.


Hello, Loyal Readers! One of my favorite writers and friends, Wilmar Luna has a new book out–a sequel to his super-fun Silver Ninja–and as it’s clear his writing is influenced by video-gaming, I asked him to come by the blog and share his thoughts on how the two art forms are–and could be–related.

SilverNinja2.1

A typical scene from a video game or novel. Or both! Used with permission of silverninja.com

Ensis, thanks for inviting me to your blog! The question you propose is very in-depth and has a lot of layers. I’ll try to answer it to the best of my ability, but forgive me if I don’t cover everything. It’s true. I have driven much inspiration from video games in order to write my novels. Terminator 2029 gave me the idea for Cindy’s HUD interface, Gray Fox from Metal Gear Solid gave me the idea for her suit, and the TV show Power Rangers gave me the idea for a female protagonist (I had a huge crush on the pink ranger Amy Jo Johnson). I think a lot of people don’t realize that video games themselves can stir the imagination, grip you emotionally, and take you on a wonderful journey in the same way that books do. There have been many moments as a child and to some extent as an adult, where I’m playing a video game and I do something not intended by the game developers. I imagine beyond what I’m playing and think of the world that’s been created and what kind of society lives in it. To this day, I am still utterly fascinated with the lore of Dracula in the Castlevania series from the Super Nintendo days, and that game had essentially, no plot, no character development, and no twist. You had a whip and you killed monsters with it, the end. But the world, the attention to detail, the music, it was all so vivid and memorable that the game stuck with me 23 years later. That’s just one example. Video games as a whole have evolved into much more complex plots and characters. Whereas Castlevania was just about whipping monsters; Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Final Fantasy 7, and Metal Gear Solid were all games with deep plots, complex characters, and a strong focus on narrative. To this day I still remember my jaw being dropped when the plot twist was revealed in Knights of the Old Republic and still I continue to get misty eyed at the ending of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. These games got me so attached, hooked, and invested in the characters; you’d almost think I was reading a book. As far as the video game industry goes, I don’t work in it, but I’ve played enough games to see the trends. I believe video game companies are starting to take their audience seriously. They recognize that gamers are getting older and are developing more sophisticated tastes. They hired Rhianna Pratchett to write the Tomb Raider reboot and the team at Bioware has an entire pit of writers crafting detailed narratives into their next Dragon Age: Inquisition game. So, I think video game companies recognize that their games can evolve further and become interactive book fiction. Time out, before anyone gets riled up. Nothing beats a good book, period. Books, unlike video games can move freely, are cheaper, and can push your imagination further than any other medium out there. The reader has to create the world in their head, the characters, their voices, and see something that has no tangible presence in our universe except in the form of text. Video games take away from that imagination and show you the world rendered through the vision of an art director or a gameplay designer. Although it’s great to see it and play it, books are a little bit more rewarding to the readers who get to see it their way. Could The Silver Ninja have been a comic book or a movie? Absolutely. Readers have told me many times that it should have been a comic book. However, there is something distinctively different when you read about a motorcycle speeding through rush hour traffic in Manhattan and seeing it illustrated in comic book form. Though, I have to say, I’m not looking forward to hearing the number one complaint when I finally get to turn this novel into a movie. “The book is better than the movie.” Well, that’s about all I have to say about that. Thank you, Ensis for inviting me to do this blog post and thank you readers for reading it. I hope you all enjoyed the read and obviously hope you will check out The Silver Ninja: Indoctrination afterwards!

Thanks, Wilmar! So in the future… Liteo-Games? Viderature? I hope so! This is a topic I’m very keen to start a dialogue about, so expects some more posts on the topic and tell me how you feel about writing and games, or other media, in the comments! If you like any of the games listed above, it’s a pretty sure bet you’re gonna like his Silver Ninja Series. Both are available from fine book retailers on his website!

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