Can Books and Video Games Coexist?
Roger Ebert famously said “Video games can never be art.” Man, was he wrong. He was so, so, so wrong.
Let me explain my viewpoint. I own both an XBox and a Wii. And, while on vacation, I developed an unhealthy addiction to Angry Birds.
My love for video games started around the time I was 9 or 10, when the first Nintendo came out. I spent hours and hours and hours playing Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. and Metroid. As I’ve got older, got married, and had a kid, my video game playing has waned. I’m not one of those guys you’ll read about in the news who got divorced because of his addiction to World of Warcraft. That’s just insane.
When I started this book project, I basically decided to temporarily give up video games. I simply didn’t have time to work, read, write the blog, play with my son, spend time with my wife…and play an hour long game of Madden. That’s just not going to work. Something had to give. So for nearly 16 months, I didn’t touch a video game controller.
For Christmas, my wife bought me the newest Elder Scrolls game–a masterpiece on the XBox 360. And, amazingly, I’ve somehow managed to find a little time here and there to play it, while keeping up with the blog and the reading and the family time.
The point of this amazingly long lead-in is that Elder Scrolls reminded me that books can coexist with video games. Not only that, classic video games can be very similar to classic books. Both ARE art, Roger Ebert. Some games are so brilliantly designed and their stories are so detailed and involved, they are just as effective, if not more effective, than books in telling a story.
Are some games a waste of time? Yep. But I think it’s close-minded to say that all video games are worthless. And I think those of us who are literary-minded can find a lot of redeeming qualities in certain video games.
When I saw that Lev Grossman, one of the two guys who actually created the Time list, was a gamer, I knew I was in pretty good company as a book lover and part-time gamer.
Other than the Elder Scrolls games I’ve already mentioned, here are some other games I think book lovers would appreciate.
The Fallout Series: Post apocalyptic. Very Cormac McCarthy-esque. If Blood Meridian was set in a post-Nuclear War setting, it might look like Fallout.
Alan Wake: Well this game only makes sense. It has the feeling of Stephen King novel. The story follows a struggling writer who goes on a weekend retreat to a cabin in the woods. After his wife mysteriously disappears, he’s off to find her. One of the most unique games I’ve ever played.
The Mass Effect trilogy: Mass Effect is classic sci-fi. I’m not a big science fiction guy, but I enjoyed playing the first two games in this series (haven’t played the third one). Maybe there’s a hint of Neuromancer in here.
Myst: Do you remember this game from the 90s? It was a beautiful, first-person, puzzle solver. The environments were unbelievably detailed for the time period. If you’re a reader who loves to think and solve problems, you would’ve loved this game. I’m sure it’s still out there in some form for download.
Halo Trilogy: The crazy over-the-top action made me want to stray away from suggesting this game as one for book lovers, but Halo actually has quite a developed story. I’ve only played the first two games, but you can tell this game’s writers spend a massive amount of time on the story.
So this post might totally bomb. I’m not sure how many of you out there are big video game people.
But, if you’re like me, and enjoy both a good book and a good game, then speak up!
What are some other games that book lovers might enjoy? Or, flip the question, what are some books that would make for great video games?