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From books to games, anyone? February 25, 2011

Posted by Cesar in gaming me, thinking me.
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The other day I was thinking about this: what electronic games came straight from books? It doesn’t count if the game is just vaguely inspired by a book setting, like the Rainbow Six series, or if the game is based in a movie which is based in a book (anyone thinking Lord of the Rings?). Ah! And comic books / graphics novels don’t count either.

Mind you, I never googled for results either (although I did research the games I found). So instead I posed the question to many of my friends, including several game designers, and I was surprised to find out that the answers never come easy. It is hard to list games that fit the criteria. Many of the mentioned ones are old school games, like the text-based Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Hobbit. Modern games are much harder to find. It seems like books now get movie versions before the games industry takes a stab at it. However, it is still possible to find some, like the successful The Witcher.

Pinpointing the reason for this small number of direct translations from books to games is very hard. It seems like it was easier 20 years ago, but that might just be because the games were so much simpler: a single programmer fan could be enough to spawn a text adventure back then. But even that is not obvious, the numbers I got in my survey are too small for any conclusive analysis.

Below are the titles I got, I still can’t believe I found so few. If you remember any more, disagree with one or if you simply have a theory on the subject, let me know in the comments!

See you space cowboys…

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Comments»

1. Durval - February 25, 2011

It’s very likely that in the future some writers will write games, not traditional texts…

2. Cesar - February 25, 2011

That already happens but the best comparison is with the film industry, not books.

In small teams, that responsibility falls on the game designer, but in higher budget productions, games have dedicated script writers and many are very successful.

I mentioned this before, but the increase in graphical quality seems to have stimulated the development of games that border on movie storytelling. Uncharted 2 is a great example of a game that tells a story as well as a movie.

3. Edwin - February 25, 2011

I have not read the book, so it may not meet you criteria but Dune comes to mind for me.
Great game, it helped me fall in love with PC gaming very early in my life.
Cheers to a great topic for thought . I hope to see the list grow.

Cesar - March 1, 2011

I checked and Dune totally fits. Nice one!

4. Pauly - April 2, 2011

Not that I disagree with War of the Worlds…but before Wells released it as a novel, wasn’t it originally a series of radio programs?? For some reason i remember that parts of the US were actually freaked out because the public thought they were hearing “news reports” of actually been invaded my aliens. Its possible that happened after the novel was released – I’m not %100 certain of the timeline.

Which makes you wonder…has there ever been an electronic game title inspired-by or based-off Radio programming? …or some other early form of media.

Cesar - April 2, 2011

You got me wondering so I did some digging. The novel was released back in 1898 and the radio program was also inspired by the book.

Can you imagine games inspired plays? That would be weird!

Cesar - April 2, 2011

I did some digging and found out the book was released in 1898. The radio drama was also inspired by the novel.

Can you imagine a game inspired by a play? That would be weird!

5. cathemey - July 2, 2011

Hi Cesar, this is indeed an interesting topic and you have a great blog. Would you be interested in a link exchange? Let me know to send you info on my site ^^
Cathy

6. maxb1ack - September 14, 2011

Metro 2033 was based on a novel :)


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