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The Worst Gaming Novel Ever – Excerpts

The Worst Gaming Novel Ever – Excerpts

Morning post is one of the highlights of the day on Play. Chris starts asking “have we got any post?” every few minutes until around 10.30, when there will be a ‘you have post in Reception!’ email, followed by anticipation and mild excitement. What will it be? Review code for a title we’ve been dying to play? Promo copies of LittleBigPlanet2? A drawing of Ian Dransfield?

It doesn’t matter what it is, as it usually serves some purpose, unless it’s the epic disappointment found in one of two forms:

1) It’s something for Chris McMahon
2) It’s one of those bloody game novel book things

They are always rubbish. Always. There’s honestly no bigger letdown than seeing another Bloody Game Novel Book Thing that has been written to an impossible deadline and fails to stir excitement in the gaming crotches of those the book is aimed for, let alone for anyone who doesn’t know what a god of war is or what a homefront is. The Mass Effect books are probably the best of a bad bunch but it’s practically earned that title by virtue of just existing.

By far, the worst recent offender is Dead Space: Martyr. Rather than me shout about how terrible it is and how some games just don’t work as novels, here are some excerpts which should say it all:

“All right Tim?” asked Tom.
“Better than him,” said Tim.

“I cannot say exactly how strongly,” he said. “There is a limitation of equipment.”
“Yes,” said Altman, “but within that limitation, you can confirm that it seems strong.”
“There is a limitation of equipment,” Skud insisted.
But as it turned out, Altman didn’t need Skud to tell him. He could tell by the way the people around him changed, becoming either withdrawn or violent. And the fact they kept turning the corner and running into ghosts.

When he came to, Shane was back, looking just as he had before he’d dissolved into a burst of blood, the same strange fixed expression on his face. He’d moved, though, and was now sitting next to Dantec, facing the other way, looking back at Hennessy. Or not next to Dantec exactly: he seemed to be sitting, so it seemed, partly on Dantec. But as Hennessy pulled himself up, he saw. Shane was partly in Dantec, their hips fused together, his legs somehow jutting through the back of the command chair.

It’s an awkward situation for an author to be in – how can they write a good novel about a subject matter they’re (presumably) not well-rehearsed on for the sake of having a book hit the shelves alongside the release of the game? They can’t. For the same reason games based on films suck, so do books based on games. Books are a big commitment of anyone’s time so if you do read a book, make sure it’s a good one. Maybe one of the classic books you were told to read at school but didn’t, perhaps something by Haruki Murakami or Jonathan Franzen, even Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to read the inspiration behind Bioshock.

But if you’re going to spend time with a medium based on a game, the best way is still to spend it on the game itself.

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