When you think about it, not too many books have been made into video games. Sure, there are a number of Alice in Wonderland games, and the independently produced The Great Gatsby flash game earned a brief spot in the limelight after going viral a couple of years ago. And let’s not forget the successful Nancy Drew video game series by Her Interactive, which is produced in our neighbor city of Bellevue, Wash.
But the longer I think about it, the more I start wondering why the heck books aren’t adapted more often. Not only would these games encourage kids to go back and read the source material, game developers would also have a plethora of excellent material to work with, ready and waiting.
Here are my top six picks for books that should be video games.
1. “The Old Kingdom Chronicles,” Garth Nix
These dark fantasy novels would make for an epic RPG. Main character Sabriel uses enchanted bells to send undead creatures back past the nine gates of death to defend her homeland. Unfortunately, her kingdom is overrun with these undead monsters, and when her father is kidnapped and trapped in the world of the dead, her work is cut out for her. These books are rife with spooky enemies, complex combo moves, and interesting terrain.
2. “The Fairytale of My Life: An Autobiography,” Hans Christian Andersen
Many people don’t know that the Danish author of “The Little Mermaid” and “The Snow Queen” led a very peculiar and melancholy life. Every time I see a photo of his long, lanky frame, I can’t help but imagine navigating him through 18th century palaces and sticky romantic situations in the awkward style of Octodad. There is an existing computer game starring HCA, but it doesn’t have much to do with his autobiography.
3. “Enchantress From the Stars,” Sylvia Engdahl
This sci-fi novel eloquently blends spaceships and fairy tales in a story all about advanced societies influencing burgeoning cultures. We only see one mission in the course of the novel, but many others are referenced. Sounds like a great opportunity for more storytelling.
4. “The Song of the Lioness,” Tamora Pierce
This fantasy series follows Alanna of Trebond on her journey to become a knight. The world of the story is vast and complex, with political intrigue and magical creatures, so it would work for many different kinds of games. Help Alanna to defend the royal family, move troops across borders, perform complicated spells with button combos, you name it. Plus, there are so many sequels, the games would never run out of great material.
5. “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare“
There are already a few low-budget games for individual Shakespearean plays, but why not create one epic master game for the whole canon? Decide whether or not to kill your uncle Claudius and create an alternate Hamlet ending, plan military campaigns to reclaim Scotland from the traitor Macbeth, or help Juliet sneak out and go on missions through historical Verona…And the gameplay would foster a healthy interest in literature and history.
6. “The Worlds of Chrestomanci,” Diana Wynne Jones
In these excellent YA novels, there are nine parallel worlds, each with a different version of (almost) every person. Some are more magical than others, and each has its own customs and cultures. There’s even one that’s strangely similar to our own world. A good chunk of the series is spent exploring these worlds and solving the problems of their many inhabitants. Sounds perfect for an exploration game!
What’s missing from my list? Let us know in the comments!