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Fringe Authors General Chat > Gaming motifs in writing

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message 1: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
If you're a gamer - tabletop or video - I'd love to get your feedback on what you think of including gaming motifs/tropes in a novel.

Something a few people have told me about my novel, The Last Damsel, is that it has a resemblance to video games and might appeal to that subculture. Weirdly that was more an incidental than intentional aspect that emerged from the theatrical elements I was going for but I can see why people are getting that impression since the book has things like:

- parts instead of names (archetypes)
- Stages with peculiar/surreal settings (levels)
- specific wardrobes that are altered to match the environment (costumes)
- improbable weapons (weapons of choice/chance)
- forming partnerships and troupes (co-op mode)

Should I embrace these similarities and try to call more attention to them, like character classes, group buffs and other things that appear in games like D&D, the World of Darkness or World of Warcraft? Will that add a depth fandom might get more invested in/identify with?

message 2: by Tiger (new)

Tiger Gray (tiger_gray) | 291 comments Go for it. Also I know WAY too much about World of Darkness if you need help on that front.

message 3: by Dan (new)

Dan I think you should...

message 4: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Hmm, tough call.

My most hardcore gaming friends (people who played D&D before anyone heard of it lol) would say hell to the no. But, they're kind of a small minority. Tiny percentage. So that might be a risk, pissing off the elitist hardcore gamers for not being 100% accurate and the book doesn't read like a D&D character profile. If it was me and wanted to do it, I would say, sucks to be them.

For those who don't know gaming, it might come across as just plain weird. Roll D2? What the hell is she talking about?

I'm rambling and I do have a point.

If the underlying (or overlying) theme is it's all just a game, embracing gaming references might enhance the story. If it's unrelated to the story, it might come across as just forced fluff.

One last thing about gaming. Unless you are a gamer and/or dated one (like I have) it will be really obvious any gaming references are forced or added. So, I think it's best to go with what you know. Gaming is a whole culture within itself. If you know it, go for it. If not, at least prepare to do a lot of research.

message 5: by Mark (new)

Mark Lily said pretty much exactly what I was going to say.
If you have a point to make (life is just a game, we all play our part, etc...) then it will serve the story to bring those elements out more. If that's not the point of the story, it will probably just take away from it.

message 6: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Oh good, my rambling made sense. Phew.

message 7: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
Tiger wrote: "Go for it. Also I know WAY too much about World of Darkness if you need help on that front."

OMG I could have minored in White Wolf. It's so intricate and intriguing.

Lily - everything you said is 100% valid concern which is why I have zero-desire to make references. I wouldn't make gaming a plot, let alone name mechanisms of it, more like a very light nod in that direction without actually saying things like "roll your initiative" or "ranger class characters can duel-weild".

For instance, I was thinking of including something called "taking the lead" where one character in a troupe basically becomes the focal point and other members "support" their performance. It manifested more like a theatric notion lead performer/supporting performer because there's all that "put on a show" symbolism happening but them being contestants gives all that extra meaning to "playing".

Players are another word for actors, play-acting is a I should reinforce those aspects since they're better off working for one another than taking pains to differentiate rather than say "no, it's classy and theatric! Not for you, gamer-peeps!"

message 8: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Hahaha...

Nothing wrong with nods. I made nods to Alfred Hitchcoack in my thriller writing, because, well, it's Hitchcock. So, yeah.

Anyway, that isn't the same as motifs. Make all the nods you want.

message 9: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) On a side but related note, anyone remember or saw that Buffy episode that made a brilliant reference to D&D tabletop? We all love nods like that.

message 10: by Courtney (last edited May 07, 2014 06:24PM) (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
"I'm a dwarf with the strength of a doily" lol

Yeah, I just know the Dark Stranger put very little attribute points into charisma upon character creation lol

Sorta related to this - I think readers like labels/categories for characters. Think Harry Potter or Divergent, where the reader wondered what House/Faction they would be in or used those labels to understand a character without having to be told specific things about them. It also makes it more interesting to see how characters embrace stereotypes or go against/reimagine them.

message 11: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) lol Minus five pooints!

message 12: by Virginia (new)

Virginia Rand I'd say include the bits that help you tell your story but don't get so attached to the idea that you stick things in just for the sake of the comparison. Easier said than done, I know.

Plus, the character without any memories is already like in loads of computer games. There's a video about it here. Video games aren't the same as a book but it talks about some of the common pitfalls with fun cartoons.

message 13: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
A light touch might bring some of that undertone out.

message 14: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) Courtney wrote: For instance, I was thinking of including something called "taking the lead" where one character in a troupe basically becomes the focal point and other members "support" their performance. It manifested more like a theatric notion lead performer/supporting performer because there's all that "put on a show" symbolism happening but them being contestants gives all that extra meaning to "playing".

I like this idea.

I don't think going with character classes or group buffs would be prudent though. I am a big gamer and I've done tabletop and video game and that would just seem forced, like you were trying to conform to games.

But as mentioned, nods are generally a plus. Perhaps use character dialogue to slip it in little. "Mmhmm, well my mace gives me plus one to my bludgeoning skill."

message 15: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
Tomorrow I shall ponder how to have that elusive mystique where gamers are pondering stats and classes like "I bet the Damsel is a Paladin and the Stranger is a Rogue" without saying it. A fine line but at least gamers will see the wink/nod without non-gamers being annoyed/feeling out if the loop.

message 16: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
- prods characters -

...tell me your secrets so I might write them.

Also - I blame anime and manga. These characters are lucky they don't have pink hair and are a team of magical girls

message 17: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) But they do have blue hair...

message 18: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
Confession - I'm at war with myself on how many cliches/tropes to embrace because - as tvtropes would call it - I want to invoke "Rule of Symbolism", "Rule of Fun", "Rule of Cool".

The general concept is that readers will forgive a writer for certain departures of reality if you're satisfying them in other ways. So if it's symbolic, fun or just plain cool we all go with it because we don't always want art to imitate life. We like meaning, significance appearing to make a story seem more destined or magical just as we want to see bad ass action or ridiculous antics without complaining "yeah, but now you're in the hospital and need a lawyer".

It's all context, of course, but nobody watches a police movie to see people fill in paper work after an eventless patrol.

In my case, I WANT to describe my characters eyes as gemstone shades for artistic/symbolic reasons, not as a lazy, romanticized descriptor. I have themes of how "precious" and surreal the characters are and saying they have "emerald" eyes would reinforce that but I basically have to avoid that because too many people have done that and everyone will just think I'm poor at descriptions ;P

So I have a lot of metallic hair descriptions - pyrite, pewter, brass, bronze, copper - but I think combining it with gemstone eyes would be too much.

message 19: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) I think that's the difference between adjective and noun. The eyes could be like emeralds, or they could real emeralds.

Adjectives give the impression of cliches or overused tropes. Nouns makes it real. So why not go for it? After all, it's only in human stories and that you can't say eyes are literally emeralds. Paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi, etc, sky's the limit.

message 20: by Yzabel (new)

Yzabel Ginsberg (yzabelginsberg) | 176 comments Hmm, hard call to make without having read the story, but if the gaming-related motifs were unintentional, and don't play a part in any way in your story, I don't know if strengthening them would be useful? The way I understand this:

- Unintentional references, born from elements borrowed from theatre, with a few readers saying it reminded them of video games:
--> Those are left open to interpretation. A theatre-lover will see references to theatre, a gamer will see references to gaming.

- Trying to strengthen the motifs:
--> If you want to appeal to the gamers, then you have to do it "fully". Anything less might look as a half-done job, perhaps even make it seem as if "well, this author tried to woo us over with references, but it feels fake".
--> However, non-gamers, on the other hand, may not understand those references, and feel lost in turn.

So IMHO it'd be a matter of how important such references would be to your story. If they really add something and can be part of your world, they're probably OK. But if they look like you put them in to be "trendy" or whatever, they could just as well break it in the eyes of both gamers and non-gamers.

message 21: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
I'm not planning to make references towards gaming. It wouldn't make much sense given the premise. It's more a question of whether I should include homages.

I'm thinking more like The Princess Bride, Stardust, Howl's Moving Castle and how they all reminded people of fairytales without explicitly identifying with any.

message 22: by Virginia (new)

Virginia Rand If you can do it without taking yourself to seriously it sounds good. :-)

message 23: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) You keep saying that word.

message 24: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
@Virginia - thanks

@Lily - you mean homage? Maybe that's not the right word since I'm not thinking of a specific work, just a tone. Like how Sin City is considered noir but not like the Maltese Falcon was.

message 25: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Nah, just accidentally showing how a reference to something like Princes Bride out of context makes the joke fall terribly flat.

I'll go away now.

Btw, Sin City is called Neo-noir, but I think Frank Miller invented that one.

message 26: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
-facepalm- IGNORE ME!

I don't trust neo-genre genres. It's like you admit to being in a genre but want to pretend it wants distinction because it was created 50+ years after the original era.

For instance, I would rather be called gothic than neo gothic unless there is some special reason neo has to be there.

message 27: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) You know, that's a very good point. Neo gothic makes me cringe. I think the Matrix is the only one that gets away with neo.

message 28: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
I'm going to pioneer Preternatural soon as I figure out what that is...

We'll call it more human than the human/uncanny valley people with sexy results.

message 29: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Sounds more Supernatural to me.

message 30: by Mark (new)

Mark Lily, that joke could never fall flat, it's inconceivable.
Bonus: That was a Jeopardy answer tonight.

message 31: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
As you wish.

message 32: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) With jokes that fall flat, there's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.

message 33: by Ed (new)

Ed Ireland (edireland) | 222 comments It's a great idea. Years ago (and about 30 edits), I submitted my book Fire At Dawn to Blizzard's publishing company. They weren't really interested in the book, but they wanted to buy my characters and the lore I had about them. Artistic reserve and a decent paycheck made me turn it down, but anytime I write now I find myself wondering if this would make a good graphic novel or video game. It never hurts to feature yourself on more than one front.

message 34: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
Geez, Ed! Congrats on getting Blizzard's attention :)

message 35: by Ed (new)

Ed Ireland (edireland) | 222 comments Thanks Courtney...maybe had I sold it then, World of Warcraft would have a whole new look today. Wish they had been interested in the book instead, but admittedly, it was pure crap back then.

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