Posted April 22, 2013 by in Fresh Ink

Novels for Gamers: What to Read if You Love Video Games


If you’re a gamer, you might have a hard time keeping busy during the next couple of months. The biggest games of the year have already been released-Far Cry 3 lived up to the incredible hype and Tomb Raider turned the franchise on its head with its innovative new take on the Lara Croft character and gameplay. Not a whole lot is being released once you’ve played through the anticipated releases. So, what’s a gamer to do? Video games actually have a lot in common with good old fashioned fictional novels. They are both trying to tell a story, each one tries to put you in the place of the protagonist or several of them, and you become actively invested in the outcome of the plot in both cases. Books can be just as absorbing and exciting as your favorite video games. The real question is: which books should you start with? Here are some suggestions for stories you can start with depending on the video games you like.


Bioshock Infinite has performed beautifully as an action game with a challenging concept that mixes a bit of real history with a lot of fantastical elements, character development, and incredible visuals. If you really dig the steampunk craze where post World War I technology reigns supreme along with the ideals of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, there are quite a few great stories to choose from! Scott Westerfeld wrote Leviathan,  a young adult novel that dares to wonder what would have happened if Franz Ferdinand was not the only surviving heir of the Austria-Hungarian empire. Aleksander, the son of the assassinated Franz Ferdinand, is a young prince on the run from those who support those who challenge his right to the throne. The story splits and we get the perspective of Deryn, a gifted pilot who has a gift for flying. The story gets interesting when we learn that the German army uses biological beings as airships including the novel’s namesake, the Leviathan, which is a living ecosystem of whale cilia that moves the ship, hydrogen-making bacteria, bees, and bats that poop tiny, deadly flechettes. While Deryn might be the best pilot the fleet of airships has got, they don’t show the secret that would result in a dishonorable discharge: Deryn is a girl who has been dressing up like a boy in order to pursue her dreams.


Do you like straightforward games like side scrollers with a Gothic touch and a bunch of supernatural monsters thrown in for good measure? Yes, it’s been a long time since they’ve made a new Castlevania, but you could really enjoy the series that’s been clinging to the number one spot of the New York Times bestseller list lately. The urban fantasy series by Patricia Briggs is on its seventh installment and readers just can’t get enough! Mercy Thompson, the protagonist of the Mercy Thompson series, is a mechanic who lives in the woodsy, rainy state of Washington. While Mercy works on cars for a living, she’s got the magical ability to change into a coyote at will because of her Native American heritage. When Mercy discovers that her next-door-neighbor is a werewolf, her former boss is a gremlin, and she’s fixing a car for a vampire, she finds her own ability to transform comes in handy. Try the first book in the series, Moon Called, if you want to read the series in order.


Those who are a fan of RPG fantasy games like Skyrim are natural readers. Since Role Playing Games (RPGs) require patience, time, and experience points, those who find themselves playing these sorts of games often have the personality to enjoy a good fantasy novel as well. While George R. R. Martin is dominating the bestseller lists right now, there are plenty of great other options to choose from. When asked what kinds of books inspired him while he was writing The Song of Ice and Fire series, Martin produced a list of over thirty novels! Those who play their RPG games as a mage class will love the Patrick Rothfuss novel, The Name of the Wind. Starting out as a wild child and taken in by a band of travelling gypsies, Kvothe narrates the coming of age tale where he discovers the magical gifts that he has within him.


If you love Halo because of its gripping science fiction, space military plot (and not because you can shoot lots and lots of things), then you might enjoy the novel Cloud Atlas. The recent movie by the same name is based on the sci fi novel and it’s safe to say that the book is always better than the movie. With six separate narrators and interconnected story lines, you’ll love getting every side to the story. Each character has their own unique situation, challenges, and contribution to the overall plot, giving the story a very intricate and multi-faceted sparkle. Just to give you an idea, in futuristic Korea the reader sees a very controlling government where a service industry slave named Somni-451 begins to veer away from her role in the abolitionist cause. It’s sure to keep your brain engaged with some mind-bending possible future realities!

What are some of your favorite games? Are there any books you would recommend to other gamers?


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Lauren Bryant

Having studied library and information sciences in a graduate program at San Jose State University, Lauren is a professional librarian who has worked in middle school, high school, and public libraries with teen patron groups. Favorite genres include fantasy, historical fiction, cyberpunk, and stories with strong female characters. Check out Lauren's website, LaurentheLibrarian.com for book reviews, giveaways, and library stuff.