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mark211What's your take on Games and Science and Fantasy Fiction?2015-02-24 13:52:09
mark211I've just learned that Paizo, the company that publishes the Dungeons and Dragons-based fantasy role-playing game 'Pathfinder', is due to launch a series of fantasy novels based upon its table top game. Going in the reverse direction, Andrzej Sapkowski's fantasy fiction about an itinerant monster hunter,'The Witcher' (or 'Wiedźmin' in Polish), has been used to create a video game also called 'The Witcher'.2015-02-24 13:57:05
mark211What do you think about the link between games and fiction / fiction and games? Is it a shameless cash in or a professional form of fan fiction? If you could write any story based on a game, what would you write about and why? Conversely, is there any work of science or fantasy fiction out there that you think would make a great vehicle for a board, table top or video game?2015-02-24 13:59:44
John David RoseI still think back fondly about some of the old TSR novels. As far as there being a link, I think there is one that goes back pretty far. H.G. Wells, one of the fathers of science fiction, also created a war game called Little Wars which could be considered a distant ancestor of Dungeons and Dragons. 2015-02-24 15:06:11
WessonI think video games are an extremely underrated form of scifi and fantasy that can outshine even the best of novels at times. You have "Legend of Zelda", "Tales of Xillia", "Rune Factory" and my personal favorite "Persona 4" just to name a few. In fact, most of my inspiration for stories comes from video games. I'm young so I'm allowed to say that. 2015-02-24 21:02:38
IronspiderI was impressed by Dragon Age: Masked Empire, spin-off fiction from the Dragon Age video game - which I'm not familiar with. Quite a convoluted storyline, with the motivations of the main characters well portrayed. I've also read a couple of the Pathfinder Tales (Queen of Thorns and Liar's Blade) and, like fiction taken from Games Workshop's Warhammer, they do stumble over the limitations of their settings - the good guys are good; the bad guys are bad. And there's now also a Witcher boardgame, though I don't know the details.2015-02-24 23:28:42
mark211@John David Rose "some of the old TSR novels." Do you mean the Dragonlance novels? I remember reading those, or at least the first three in the series, when I was at high school. I actually found myself enjoying them quite a lot, although even at that age it was a kind of guilty pleasure (some of the writing was bloody awful as I remember it, but on the whole I loved it). Actually, I've just remembered that I also read two novels by E. Gary Gygax about a kind of Grey Mouser like hero who's name escapes me right now. But I remember there being an endnote where Gygax explained what levels and progression he thought the hero of the story would probably have had if the story had taken place within the terms of the game. 2015-02-25 12:20:24
mark211@Wesson: "I think video games are an extremely underrated form of scifi and fantasy that can outshine even the best of novels at times." I'm not so sure about this ... I'm not suggesting that games aren't highly creative or brilliantly designed and written and so on - they clearly are - but just that I think it's difficult to compare two different mediums that share the same kind of themes. There are great SFF movies for instance, but at the end of the day they're not books (and vice versa).2015-02-25 12:23:20
mark211@Wesson "In fact, most of my inspiration for stories comes from video games. I'm young so I'm allowed to say that." Ha ha ha - well, from a bona fide old fart who's probably older than your parents, I would like to think you are allowed to say just about *anything* regardless of age ... 2015-02-25 12:24:36
mark211@Ironspider: "they do stumble over the limitations of their settings - the good guys are good; the bad guys are bad" I haven't read them, but is that really a limitation of the setting? I'm sure there is plenty of non-tie-in fiction that adheres to that particular principle.2015-02-25 12:26:48
John David RoseYes that's right, mark211. TSR was the original publisher of the Dungeons and Dragons game and in the 80s they started pumping out novels set in their game settings. Dragonlance was a very popular setting but so was the Forgotten Realms setting. Some of the writers that wrote for TSR (and later Wizards of the Coast), such as R.A. Salvatore and Ed Greenwood, seem to have gained popularity that goes well beyond gaming circles. 2015-02-25 16:27:50
John David RoseAnother fantasy series that I always liked was the Guardians of the Flame series by Joel Rosenberg. Rosenberg started the series in the 80s as well, and I think there are 10 novels in it. The protagonists of the series are a group of college students who are teleported into a fantasy world and transformed into the characters they had been playing as in a Dungeons and Dragons style role playing game. 2015-02-25 16:34:38
r.tornelloI don't do games. Real life is. Training? different story. inhale, exhale, inhale, hold, surprise. rt2015-02-25 17:28:17
r.tornelloTo A Question regarding SCI FI GAMES A response. By RdotTornello© 2015 Once upon a time in the not too distant future past now/ it-doesn’t-matter-time-is/ an illusion, incidents,/ incidents are real piled upon incidents called time,/ a construct for the constrained, not infinity allowed/ bound,/ a code was sent./

And you ask me what games I like to play/ science fiction and fantasy./ The code in packets, injected;/ like the blood, in pulses in the veins and arteries/ of the living body politic, mix and assimilate/ flowing beat by beat by beat/ no changes./

An ever so slight failure here/ and then nothing no trace detected/ later one or two, not related?/

The 21st century carries on./ And you wonder about games played on the computer./ Another pulse, a code a decision made/ And you wonder about games and the screen and who lost/ the front of her blouse/ As if that were a concern?/ Victoria’s Secret ads= more skin/ And so/ Yet another failure of infrastructure,/ Some from age before, dark/ And then there are the others, cold dark things/ things stop if only for a while, a second;/ Time again remember?/

No shot fired./ Signed,/ Sun Zi

2015-02-25 18:06:45
Wesson@mark211: I agree that comparing books and games is like comparing apples to oranges but they both have their strengths. I've always felt that books are good at "describing" a world but games are much better at "defining" a world because they allow you to interact with it and draw your own conclusions without having to wait on the author. 2015-02-25 21:18:54
Ironspider@Mark211 - True! I guess what I meant (but didn't convey) is that if you're familiar with the game settings, then you know that, for example, orcs are bad - elves are good, and no deviation is allowed from that particular cliché. The bad guys require no motivation or in-depth explanation - they're just 'the bad guys'. I know the same rules tend to apply in a lot of fantasy fiction, but it just seems more rigidly applied in game fiction.2015-02-25 23:26:36
mark211@Ironspider: Ah yes, I know the kind of thing you mean. It's one of those scenes where underarmed and badly equipped soldiers continue hurling themselves at some master swordsman despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that they should just withdraw. Or use arrows.2015-02-26 05:42:49
mark211@Wesson: I'm not familiar enough with games to be able to comment, though I am impressed with those little movies that appear on YouTube that have been created out of Gameplay from Skyrim or GTA 5 or whatever.2015-02-26 05:44:17
mark211@John David Rose: "a group of college students who are teleported into a fantasy world" Has that got a character in it who is disabled in our world but becomes an able-bodied dwarf warrior in the fantasy one? I've not read it, but I remember a friend of mine who had who told me about that character (there was something else about one of the characters dying in the fantasy world - he was a thief who'd reached under a table to make a slit in the purse of a rich man sitting opposite to filch out the gold coins. Only then he gets caught ...)2015-02-26 05:48:00
mark211@Richard: "I don't do games." Oh, you do ... whether you know it or not, you do.2015-02-26 05:48:41
John David Rose@mark211: Yes, that is the same series I mentioned. :) A variation on the fantasy setup of someone from our world being transported to a fantasy world. In this case rather than being themselves in the fantasy world, they inhabit the bodies of the characters they had created in the game. It created some interesting dynamics in the story.2015-02-26 10:41:32
mark211@John David Rose: I'd quite like to check that out then, I'll have a look on Amazon - cheers!2015-02-26 11:14:13
IronspiderMany years ago I attended a Sci-Fi convention held at the University of Exeter. The only memorable things from the day were having a pint with the late Iain M Banks; chatting to Terry Pratchett about the development of Discworld (I urge you to read his book 'Strata'); and listening in on a panel discussion, where Neil Gaiman wrote-off the majority of modern fantasy as "the b*st*rd offspring of too many D&D campaigns". It got a rousing cheer then and, though I believe the situation's improved immeasurably, I suspect it's still partially true - people who create worlds and monsters for a fantasy game decide they can write fiction. A lot can't.2015-02-26 23:24:15
mark211@Ironspider:"people who create worlds and monsters for a fantasy game decide they can write fiction. A lot can't." That's very true, but what's also true is that there are a lot of people in all genres of fiction who think they can write but can't. How many novels - the good, the mediocre and the tree-killingly execrable - have sprung from someone thinking that their unrequited love with some girl or boy at university is the most important thing to have happened in the universe? How many ropey novels have come out of someone's experience of their first job? I know what you mean though. Still, I am most amused that Neil Gaiman - someone I consider to be a completely derivative hack and who seems to always think working and underclass people have magical powers should feel so impassioned as all that. The anxiety of influence, one wonders?2015-02-27 00:52:14
Wesson@mark211: Not sure I agree with your assessment there. I don't think fiction should exclusively belong to the self-appointed elites, a lot of the best things I've read have sprung from the amateur but innovative. Fiction is a work of art after all and everyone, including the working class, underclass, D&D class etc., has the potential to be great at it. Heck, I can prove my point now. My story "Self Mutilation", which had the honor of getting published here, was inspired by a SFF video game I once played. 2015-02-27 06:52:00
John David RoseI'm guessing Gaiman's comment was probably going after some specific characteristics of a lot of modern fantasy of that time, such as the portrayal of good and evil (along the lines of what Ironspider was mentioning earlier) or the obligatory medieval setting, or the way that magic works, which might all appear to be strongly influenced by roleplaying games. But... since a lot of traditional D&D campaigns were probably imitations of Tolkien, and Robert E. Howard (Conan), with some Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser) thrown in for good measure, you could probably just extend Gaiman's comment to say that the majority of modern fantasy is the b*st*rd offspring of those writers. Take for instance, Terry Brooks Shannara Series, or David Eddings Belgariad, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, etc... A lot of people like (obsessively love) the writings of Tolkien, Howard, and the likes of Leiber, and they want more of the same. There's a huge market for it. Publishers wouldn't have been publishing the types of fantasy novels Gaiman was criticizing if people weren't gobbling them up. Doesn't mean those works would stand the test of time, but not much writing will. I recently read _The Colour of Magic_ by Pratchett (I know... I should have jumped into Discworld a long time ago) and I don't see how this first novel could have existed without all the trite fantasy that came before it. It seems to be spoofing those earlier writers going so far as having characters who are obvious parodies of Conan, and Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser and even some gaming elements. Pratchett seems to be depending on people being so familiar with this style of fantasy that he can make jokes about it... and they'll get it.2015-02-27 09:02:29
mark211@Wesson: "Not sure I agree with your assessment there.I don't think fiction should exclusively belong to the self-appointed elites ..." I think you must have misunderstood because I was not arguing for elitism - in fact, I really don't know how you got that from what I was saying. I was simply suggesting, in response to Ironspider, that lots of genres of fiction (not just SFF) are filled with people who aren't very good writers. I don't that's elitist or controversial, is it?2015-02-28 05:25:26
mark211@John David Rose: I'm sure you're right about Gaiman, but I still don't think that let's him off the hook - his entire career has consisted of fiction following in the footsteps laid down by others coming before him and in ways that are very little different from the criticism of D&D players using their games as a starting point for their novels. In fact, it's even more absurd, given that at root, D&D is collaborative and improvised story-telling so it seems a complete natural background to SFF writing to my mind.2015-02-28 05:29:16
Wesson@mark211: "...what's also true is that there are a lot of people in all genres of fiction who think they can write but can't." I was drawing my argument from that because I think it did sound a tiny bit elitist. I don't think fiction, much like art, can be easily categorized as good or bad. Even the worse works of literature are admired by at least a few people and to them it's good. Similarly, the best works of fiction might be hated by a few people so to them it's not the best. In your defense though, I admit I get a little uppity and rebellious when it comes to subjects like these and I'm sorry for coming off too strong.2015-03-01 06:37:19

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