Play This Game, Buy This Book

I know it is becoming popular to give extras to people to entice them into reading your book, but I have to think that this is a bit over the top:

When PJ Haarsma wrote his first book, a science fiction novel for preteenagers, he didn’t think just about how to describe Orbis, the planetary system where the story takes place. He also thought about how it should look and feel in a video game (NYTimes).

I realize that games are very popular, but the margins on print fiction are very slim. If you had to figure in the cost of game development into the price of publications, books, which already cost too much for the average person, will become even more expensive.

New writers will be left out of this model completely and their books will remain unread or popular in the limited spheres they are already confined to.

Five Reasons Why Game Tie-in for Novels is a Bad Idea

  1. Too many books are published every day.

  2. The quality of the book will be prejudged by the quality of the game, adding too much to the production costs.

  3. If more people opt in, this will be like the book trailer fad and these games will be quickly ignored.

  4. The audience for games and book are not necessarily the same.

  5. The writer now has two products to market instead of just one

Five Reasons Why Game Tie-ins for Novels could be a Good Idea

  1. Many science fiction/fantasy settings would be fun to play as an MMO or other type of roleplaying game.

  2. The identification of a player to their character could foster an identification with the setting, and then the books.

  3. A Game could provide the writer with an good avenue to fill in back story that does not fit easily into the narrative of their book.

  4. The reader would be able to visualize the world as the writer does because of the game visuals

  5. The writer has a playground to test ideas with their audience.

For any of these advantages to be realized, the cost would be more than any publisher could justify.

I don't believe that simple, web-based flash games would be able to offer enough of an immersive experience to convert into a sale of the book.

If we dance off with the magical fairies into a utopian dream world where this could be done on such a mass scale it would be feasible, there would be a few minimal requirements.

Dream Wish List to Make this Possible.

  1. A basic MMO/Roleplaying framework with predefined physics and game mechanics that is cheap to license, alter, operate, and distribute.

  2. Character, terrain, and mission builders that are easy enough to use that interested writers can create their own games without the expense of hiring a development team.

  3. A central service with a good interface and rating system that will allow users to switch between games without having to pay extra for the new game (in the case of MMOs), or a good demo service that will easily make expansions available to players (in the case of stand alone rpgs/rts).

Right now, the only place I have seen that comes anywhere close to this level of functionality is Multiverse, who are currently developing the Buffy MMO, but their software would still require a development team to create the terrains and characters.

I would love to see my settings given this treatment, and I am not against the idea, but the financial hurdles that still have to be over come are too high.

What do you think? Do you know of a service that offers these features? If so I would love to know.