Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A New Project

I am writing a book. I've been working on it for about six weeks, and I've got over ten thousand words. This is significantly more than any other book project I've started, which includes a few novels in the past, and a brief poke at trying to write on the Antioch situation. This time, more successfully, I'm choosing to write about something I've already done much of the research on - the history of video games.

It began when The Escapist put out their publication schedule, including an issue on how games were better in the old days (followed by one on how games' best days are ahead.) This gave me the impetus to write a short piece on how the games we play these days were pretty well defined in the 1990's. All of the major genres were either created or refined in the 1990's, with very little new being done in the 2000's. The article was rejected, ironically, but it helped me to get started on that process. This has helped me realize that:

  • The history of video games can be told in an interesting fashion using genre as a lens. It's how gamers perceive games, and it keeps the focus on the games, instead of on the designers, corporations, or technology.
  • I've probably played enough games to be able to do this well. Whenever lists of "The All-Time Greatest" or "The Most Influential Games" come out, I've played most all of them.
  • I think at this point, I have the writing ability and longevity to do it.
I've already written around 10,000 words, mostly on Japanese/console RPGs in the 1990's, at the suggestion of FF7 fan Renaissance Poet. The relative ease with which I've managed to do this may cause problems later on, as JRPGs have had maybe the most thought and argument poured into them of any genre, and likewise, I can make the claim that I've played many of the most important of them, so don't really need much research.

On the other hand, the research is going to be fun. Although I've played most of the great games, there are still several which I missed (intentionally or not), don't really remember, or perhaps quirky outliers that I never got around to. So next on list, while I still have access to a Wii, is Super Mario Galaxy.

After that? I'm looking forward to spending some time with M.U.L.E., The Ocarina of Time, Metroid, and Silent Hill. I'm more wary of Tomb Raider, FarmVille, Myst, and Resident Evil, but you know - the things we do for art.


Jonathan said...

Sounds great, and at least playing through all the really great Wii games won't take that long...

In all seriousness, I was going to play some Twilight Princess tonight, but after reading your post I have a hankering to start another speed run through Super Metroid. 2D FTW!

Rowan said...

Well, I think talking about how the Wii adapts previously existing genres (or fails miserably at doing so) would be necessary for the last few chapters.

I actually like the 3D Metroids better than I did the 2D ones. I don't think it has much to do with the medium - I still love the 2D Metroid-like Castlevanias. More when I got into each.

Jonathan said...

I fully admit that I'm becoming an old fogey when it comes to video games, but I just could not adjust to the 3D Metroid games: too much going on, and too complex a control scheme. But very very shiny, so I was conflicted at first.