Below is a post written by guest blogger George Ivanoff He will be here at Fairfieldbooks on the next Fairfield Village Market Day, Saturday 29th October between 11am and 12pm talking to customers and signing books.
Writing in a computer game world
By George Ivanoff
Authors write for many different reasons. Some do it for money; some do it for glory; some do it for therapy. Often the individual project will dictate why the author will write it. Sometimes it’s a story that’s stuck in his head and he just has to get out before it drives him insane. Sometimes it’s something that an editor has specifically asked for. And for famous authors, it can sometimes even be simply a case of writing the story that their fans are clamoring for. But what about me?
When I stared out, writing was a hobby. Now, I write for a living. I choose to write predominantly for kids and teens because that’s what I enjoy most. I write a fair bit for the primary school education market because it provides me with regular money (remember that whole writing for a living thing). But there’s more to my writing than money.
A couple of years ago I wrote a novel called Gamers’ Quest. I wrote this novel because I wanted to produce the sort of book that I would have loved reading as a thirteen-year-old. And you know what? I had heaps of fun writing it. I enjoyed the experience so much, that I couldn’t wait to return to the world I had created. And so I wrote a sequel — Gamers’ Challenge.
As a thirteen-year-old I loved reading science fiction. But I also loved playing computer games, particularly things like Space Invaders and Asteroids. I loved fiction that involved computer games — everything from Gillian Rubinstein’s novel Space Demons, to films like TRON and The Last Starfighter. I wanted to recapture how I felt about all those stories, and so I wrote a book set entirely within a computer game world. I structured it like a computer game. I filled it with bizarre, over-the-top characters. And I crammed in lots of things the thirteen-year-old me would have loved to have in a book. So Gamers’ Quest had magic swords, robots, dragons, a killer cyborg, a giant robot spider, warrior monks, a space battle and an invading army of Roman Centurions.
You would think that this may have left nothing for the sequel. But no — there were still lots of things the younger me wanted. So Gamers’ Challenge has a giant pinball machine, homicidal balls of static, computer game cheat codes, World War II trenches, zombies, unicorns, more dragons and a climactic video game battle. Oh, and for the geeks, there’s even an entire page of binary code.
As a teenager I spent a lot of time wondering what sort of person I would be when I grew up. And I craved the perceived freedom I would have when I finally finished school. I also spent many hours pondering the bizarre notion that I, and everyone else in the world, might just be pawns in some game controlled by a higher power. So…
The themes of reality and identity that I wove through the story of Gamers’ Quest are continued in Gamers’ Challenge. This time I took the question of identity a step further — is it possible to choose the sort of people we want to be, or are we destined to be what we are programmed or taught to be; how much say do we have over who we really are? And to all this, I added the concept of freedom. One character even asks “What do you do with freedom when you get it?”
To tie in with the computer game theme of the book, there is a computer animated book trailer. Its visuals are designed to look like a computer game. Take a look…
So… did I achieve what I set out to do? Well, my inner-teen loved writing the book, and I think that if I could send this book back in time to the 1980s, my thirteen-year-old self would be pretty pleased. Now I’ve just got to hope that the teenagers of the 21st Century also like it!
Remember to come and say hello to George on the 29th October at 11am