I’m an author first. That is what I would call my true title in life. But, it would only go so far to describe me. It’s not as if authors just sit in a giant pile of books, typing away at a computer with nothing but a word processor on it, day in and day out. (Maybe someone does–I’m not judging.) There’s a lot of other stuff in my life, and it usually even comes back to influence my writing. I could go on about this subject in general for some time, but today I’d like to focus on just one: video games.
Games influenced me from the first day I wrote a story. I grew up on the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Gameboy Color, eating up all the Pokemon and Legend of Zelda I could find. One of my favorites, Golden Sun, still has a very noticeable impact on my work today: the system of people who manipulate the elements is so ingrained in my work that I couldn’t remove it even when it took a back seat to the rest of the story.
In the last couple of months, though, there have been some new titles that really got to me. One was Undertale, a cute little game that’s still being funded on Kickstarter. The demo alone, though, was enough to grab me by the shirt and force me to think in a way I never had before. Undertale is a role-playing game full of puzzles and monsters… but you don’t have to fight the monsters at all. You can run, or talk with them to get them to leave you alone. At the end of the demo, you’re forced into battle with someone you really care about, but you can spare her life as well if you’re clever enough.
Now, I’ve always written really violent stories, leading me to caution people that my work has a slight horror element. In a story of angels and demons, the character’s viewpoint is very close to the demons. In Undertale, I was sure that I’d continue on that path and destroy everything. But I surprised myself. I did what I could to avoid hurting anyone, because of the tone of the game. Is it possible for a complete monster to change his mind and choose peace? What does it take? I was inspired to look at this in The Demon’s Guardian and examine which characters still have their innocence, and which ones are too far gone.
On the complete opposite side of the spectrum is Shin Megami Tensei IV. In it, the player negotiates with and fights alongside demons, and helps them to get stronger. They are the source of his power as well, and at one point the player must choose to side with Lucifer or God–explicitly the Christian God. And, I dare say, the game makes a persuasive argument that neither choice is morally better than the other in its final result. While I disagree with the game’s negative view of God, it made me see how far people are really allowed to go with a story like this. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t think that’s a little Satanic. But the Shin Megami Tensei series has been doing this for over 20 years, and it’s still very popular. Why should I be afraid of what people think, then?
Of course, there’s also a reverse idea in my mind for all this. Namely, what would The Third Face and the rest of the trilogy look like as video games? It goes through my mind all the time. The leap from a book to a game is a big one, but I don’t think it’s completely impossible. Many authors fantasize about watching their fiction become a movie, but I’d rather see a game adaptation. Who knows? I may be about to dabble in a little game development anyway. Maybe one day I, too, can take the Kickstarter route and turn my story into a video game. Or maybe an anime series. I mean, I love writing, and I love books, and I love looking at my book as it is right now. But just think: it could become so much more!
Any other author-gamers out there? What are your favorite games? Do you ever imagine your books adapted into games? Please comment!