So, as gamers, we obviously love playing video games, right? Duh! There’s nothing like actively taking on a role in another fanciful world, blasting away baddies or solving crimes while jumping around like a ninja for fun and profit. On the rare occasion when we finally put down the controller, we don’t have to stop enjoying our favorite pastime. For as long as the industry has been around, there have been people writing books that expand upon established video game worlds, are based directly on a specific game and tie in to it, or are totally original works that include aspects of gaming and gaming culture in them.
Gamers looking to continue the experience at the beach or on their lunch breaks or just about anybody looking for a good video game related read would do well with any of the titles on my gamers reading list:
Is a 2001 military science-fiction novel by Eric Nylund, based on the Halo series of video games, and serves as a prequel to the original game, Halo: Combat Evolved. The novel is set in the 26th century fictional Halo universe and takes place across several planets and locales and chronicles the events leading up to the game and explains the origins of the SPARTAN II soldiers and serves as a narrative of game’s main protagonist, Master Chief.
Ready Player One above all on my list is a great piece of exciting science fiction that will appeal to just about any fan of the genre: gamer and non-gamer alike, although it has the greatest appeal to anybody who grew up in the 80’s as it’s, totally full of 80s pop-culture. The main characters are literally running around gushing 80’s movie, music, and arcade references, while actively playing one game after another inside a virtual reality in search of the ultimate “Easter egg” in a dystopian near-future. Hundreds of 80’s cultural references crammed into a single book could quickly overwhelm a lesser book but the author, Ernest Cline manages to make them integral to the plot and introduces them in ways that are relevant and manageable rather than just stuck into the book to appeal to readers of a “certain age”. Fast-paced with an unpredictable plot and thoroughly entertaining, Ready Player One is a must-read title for everyone!
Mass Effect: Revelations is a prequel novel to the Mass Effect trilogy, and is written by science fiction writer and lead writer of the Mass Effect video game, Drew Karpyshyn. Published in 2007, it is the first novel set in the Mass Effect universe and serves to fill in much of the background story of the game, such as locations, internal politics of the Council, and some of the science and technology experienced in the game as well. Most of the novel revolves around the galaxy’s views on artificial intelligence, as this is a plot point integral to the video game but also introduces the reader to the video game’s main antagonist, Saren Arterius, and how he became involved in the events touched off by Sidon.
SEE ALSO: What the Star Wars Prequels Got Right
There have been several spinoff novels and short stories from the computer game Star Wars: Republic Commando, known as the Republic Commando Series, the most famous of which were penned by Karen Traviss who drew on her experiences as a combat journalist, embedded with real life soldiers as a source of technical information for her Republic Commando series of novels. The series focuses on a group of clone commandos, known as Omega group, who are each, the last surviving members of the four-man teams that were sent to Geonosis at the beginning of the Clone Wars. As clones, these dog soldiers are genetically bred to fight, and die for the Republic and have no rights of their own and so they’ve developed a deep attachment to their clone brothers in arms. With the series, Traviss develops these cloned soldiers into true emotional characters and presents them as so much more than the cannon fodder depicted in the movies. If you’re looking for a brilliant science fiction book, by an author who can take you through the emotional highs and lows that come with military service or if you simply LOVE the star wars universe but HATE the movie characters, then you need to read this book series!
Another brilliant video game culture novel from Ernest Cline! Armada tells the story of video game addict Zack Lightman who unwittingly finds himself in an alien invasion. Fortunately, Lightman soon discovers that his favorite video games and science fiction stories have all been created as a survival guide to get through the interstellar attack. Funny, harrowing, and full of the nerdy charm that made Cline’s first novel Ready Player One a cult classic, Armada is a must-read novel for gamers, nerds, and non-gamers alike!
Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars is a military science-fiction novel by Keith R. A. DeCandido spun-off from the popular RTS video game Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. While the novel does cover the same time period as the game, the events of the game are only referred to briefly, although many in-game characters are mentioned or appear in the book. The novel details the actions of GDI’s 22nd Infantry Division, led by Michael McNeil, who are decorated as heroes for their exploits, as well as describing Tiberium’s effect on the world with a trip to Atlanta by W3N reporter Annabella Wu. Atlanta is partially infested with Tiberium but still under GDI control and the main story arc alternates between the experiences of Ricardo Vega and Annabella Wu during the conflict.