Games Library: The Written Word in Gaming

Take a look at some of gaming's best spin-off novels, books and memoirs.

James Troughton
12th November 2018
Image Credit: Flickr (Tim VandenHoek)

Gamers are notoriously attached to their fictional universes, and for good reason- the medium of gaming allows one to truly inhabit the worlds they create. Developers know this well, and often release extra material to add to the richness of these fictional worlds.  We have compiled the cream of the crop when it comes to the written word in gaming. Read on.

Ratchet and Clank Comic

Ratchet and Clank is not only a fantastic platforming adventure, but also a highly enchanting visual experience. J. Fixman, the writer behind every Ratchet and Clank game from Tools of Destruction onwards, also wrote a six issue comic book to bridge the gap between A Crack in Time and All 4 One.

Image: Flickr (PlayStation.Blog)

Old characters, concepts and planets return when a presidential candidate, Artemis Zogg, turns mad upon his defeat. He then attempts to seek justice by stealing planets and placing them into a model solar system around Helios, an artificial sun. Yet another victim created by the fallout of Captain Quark’s egotism and general ignorance, Zogg has good intentions.

The artwork itself worried me when I first started reading as Ratchet looks a lot younger. However, the other characters and villains are fantastically drawn by Adam Archer and appear almost identical to their video game counterparts.

Characters and villains are fantastically drawn by Adam Archer

Fixman’s story is rich with small details and easter eggs for eagle-eyed-readers and overall, the comic is very well written and tells a much nicer, smaller story to bridge the gap between the games. It features a healthy amount of fan-service organically intertwined into a narrative that brings together a cast of characters from an era gone by.

Halo: The Fall of Reach

Bungie clearly planned a rich multimedia expanded universe from the beginning of the Halo series, with the first novel written by Eric Nylund alongside the production of Halo: Combat Evolved.

A lot of care was clearly put into this novel. Nylund deftly uses the character of John, who will soon become the series protagonist, to introduce the much broader universe of Halo to readers.

Image: IGDB

The narrative begins with John as a child and the experience of reading through this, growing up with the Master Chief, and immediately moving onto the game (which takes place right after the book’s epilogue) gives a true sense of distance travelled, both by us and the Chief himself.

While not hugely moving literature, definitely foregrounds the moral dilemmas that are undertones of the Halo franchise

Nylund begins every chapter with a report of time and place that both immediately grounds the reader in terms of plot and reinforces the military stylings of the novel. The novel reveals that - believe it or not - the one tonne, genetically enhanced super soldier actually had friends, affirming a human side to him which is not often touched on in the Halo games.

This is precisely where The Fall of Reach shines: it reveals to us a world far beyond the main series of games, and while not hugely moving literature, definitely foregrounds the moral dilemmas that are undertones of the Halo franchise.

Crash Override

Crash Override is as much a handbook for what author Zoe Quinn describes as “internet hygiene” as it is a harrowing recount of her experience with Gamergate - beginning in 2014, she became the target of violent misogynistic harassment under the guise of concerns about ‘ethics in games journalism’.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Throughout the book, Quinn dissects the actions of her abusive ex and those associated with him, and looks at ways to both prevent and mitigate the damage caused. She does this through the lens of the Crash Override Network, an organisation Quinn has since established to help others facing online abuse.

An excellent look at how something like this could happen to anyone

Gamergate has become a nebulous term to many, but Crash Override brings things back down to earth with a narrative of events and emotions from the person at the epicentre of it all.

Not only does it set the facts straight for anyone that doesn’t have the full story, but it’s also an excellent look at how something like this could happen to anyone, and just about everyone can do something to reduce the chances of that.

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