Saturday, January 23, 2010

The thundering of the dice

My latest Astral Weeks column (all these posts begin with "My latest Astral Weeks column...") looks at Gamer Fantastic, an anthology of stories inspired by gaming, particularly RPGs.
If a rich, well-orchestrated RPG bears similarities to a work of fiction, what happens when a work of fiction is about an RPG? The answer, in the anthology "Gamer Fantastic" edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes (DAW: 310 pp., $7.99), is something akin to vertigo. Despite the goofy cover (a kid giddily wielding a Nintendo handset, planet exploding in the background), "Gamer Fantastic" is more about this blurring between RPGs and reality than remote-control video mayhem. The brisk opener, Chris Pierson's "Escapism," manages a clever twist on the character of the first-person-shooter-obsessed teen, but most of the other 12 stories here involve significantly lower technology. As with writing stories, the games in question are primarily built of words -- albeit with oddly shaped dice thundering in the background.
I also give a nod to my current home page—James Maliszewski's Grognardia.

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Blogger mallard said...

Interesting article/review. Have you ever read or written anything on the writing that goes on in the production of games, especially video games? Apparently writing for games is a strange and difficult skill set. One example: The author has to construct a story, but has to write around the main character. The player is the main character and has to feel like he or she (probably he) is driving the story. If a writer constructs the story using more traditional frameworks, the player will feel like he has lost agency in determining the path of the game.

Might make an interesting column to follow this one.

(Side note: my made up google verification word: kingsaul. It's strangely appropriate to the column. I wonder if google is struggling to become self aware and is trying to communicate.)

10:53 AM  
Blogger mallard said...

PS: Thanks for the Grognardia link. After reading some of his posts I got sucked into the story of the intriguing Robert E. Howard. I journeyed to the great NYPL and read some of his Selected Letters (edited by Glenn Lord). They make for fascinating reading. They also make me wonder what we've lost by abandoning letters. Do blogs make an acceptable substitute?

Made up google word: fraft

8:04 AM  

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