Stories Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Stories RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Bet You Didn't Know These 4 Authors Made Their Own Video Games Mon, 10 Apr 2017 15:52:09 -0400 Jerline Justo

Developers and game writers provide amazing stories often involving characters and complex plot lines -- some that even rival literature and film. In a way, stories in video games are not that different from those found in their paper and cellulose cousins, and many authors feel that way, too. 

When moving away from the literary world, fiction and nonfiction writers often come into the gaming industry as game writers or developers. They often bring with them the skills of narrative complexity and highly creative writing. Some writers are vociferous in telling the world that they're working on the next big game, but some keep to themselves.

On the note, we bet you didn't know these four highly-acclaimed authors have dabbled in digital sotrytelling -- and to great effect. 


Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is well known for his horror and dark fantasy works, such as Coraline, American Gods, and The Ocean at The End of the Lane. On top of those literary masterworks, he's also written graphic novels, film scripts, and comic books. But he's also worked in the video games industry, collaborating with a small company called DoubleFine. 

Together they created the game called 
Wayward Manor, which involves a ghost from a distant time trying to keep its house from falling into the clutches of new homeowners. The game may be not be highly popular on Steam, but it does give off Gaiman’s essence -- and creepy story-telling panache. 

Clive Barker

Barker focuses on horror and fantasy fiction and has written dozens of novels, like The Damnation Game and Galilee. He's also written a series of short stories called the Books of Blood. But this author does more than just write novels and short shorties. He directs films, too, such as Saint Sinner and Candyman. On top of that, he's written screenplays, painted works of art, and even created his own video games, like Undying. But there's more. 

Along with Codemasters and Alchemic Productions, he created the terrifying Jericho, which takes players into a lost city where the Firstborn lives, an utterly terrifying and nightmarish creature. It's one of the most underrated horror games of all time, especially when you consider that Barker is the mastermind behind it all. 

Orson Scott Card

Card writes stories in various genres, like science fiction, thriller, fantasy, and historical fiction. But many know him through his work on the Ender’s Game series and The Tales of Alvin Maker. He's also written poems, essays, and critiques. He's a prolific writer, not bound by conventional literary standards. 

But in the 1990s, Card contributed wrote dialog for titles like Loom, the Secret of Monkey Island, and The Dig. But in 2000s, he also wrote the screenplay for
Advent Rising, despite the fact he did not come up with the storyline.

Harlan Ellison

Ellison mostly explores speculative fiction, which combines mystery, horror, supernatural fiction, and science fiction. Some of his most recognized published works are A Boy and His Dog and Mefisto in Onyx. Like Barker, Ellison writes more than just shorts stories and novellas; he also writes screenplays and comic scripts, venturing into different types of mass media, like literature, film, and print.

When he moved into video games, he collaborated with Cyberdreams and game writer David Sears to create a PC game based on one of Ellison’s short stories, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream. The player’s goal is to prove that the human race is better than machines -- and to this day, it is one of the most terrifying horror games ever created. 

Bonus: Tom Clancy

Clancy’s name is well-known in the gaming industry, especially for his Rainbow Six military and espionage games. Many players should recognize games such as Ghost ReconWildlands, the Splinter Cell series, and Rainbow Six Siege as works by Clancy. 

But in the literary world, Clancy published other stories, like
The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and Sum of All Fears in the 1980s through the 1990s. Many of these were translated into films, starring actors like Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck.


Video games and books may be different mediums, but these four writers prove  that both worlds are not that different. It may be difficult or intimidating for some writers to move into another medium, but while looking at Barker, Gaiman, Card, Ellison, and Clancy, anything seems possible. All it takes is a good story to catch the attention of gamers and readers.

Who are your favorite video game writers? Let us know in the comments below! 

What has gaming done for you? GameSkinny community responds Wed, 13 Jan 2016 11:31:45 -0500 Jessi_Cat

Video games have become the top entertainment in many households across the world. They have connected people everywhere with multiplayer and online gaming tools. In some cases, gaming has created long lasting friendships and even helped people find their soul mates. Online gaming has made it possible for people to meet each other now, where the chances of them meeting before video games were slim to none.

For me, gaming was a way for me to escape into a world I could control. I started online gaming when I was 9, but I got intensely into it when I was 11. This was when I started middle school and, of course, no one really fits in then, but I –really- didn’t fit in. Kids found their way to bully me as most untamed children do. I slowly began a descent into depression. I had no friends, which meant I didn’t go out much. Online gaming became my outlet. Soon it became my way to make long lasting friends. Sounds a bit sad but I don’t regret it. I love the friends I have made through gaming because they have kept me sane all these years.

If anyone were to ask me “What has gaming done for you?” I would respond back, “It has given me a place I fit in at. I have friends that understand me and don’t judge me for who I am. When no one else wanted to be my friend I found friends across the world. It kept me from suicide at a young age because my depression was so intense. Gaming saved me in ways that non-gamers could not understand.”

So, I decided that since I feel this way, there must be others with a story to tell. Let’s hear about what gaming has done for the people at GameSkinny.

Jay's response, 

Well, besides giving me a job, gaming has given me a very accessible way to appreciate narrative. Be it tabletop games, my favorite cRPGs of old, or a quick game of Hearthstone - gaming is an easy way for me to engage with stories on a personal level (even multiplayer games generate stories, mind you).

And, honestly, I think that's enough. I don't think gaming needs to cure the world's ails or make you a better person to be worthwhile; I whole-heartedly believe a good story is well worth anyone's time and appreciation.

BlackTideTV's response,

Gaming has taught me the value of independence. Being the gamer for all of my life I was never the popular kid. Even in a small town I never had a lot of friends. I used to think that was a problem. That I only ever hung out with a couple guys, I never had dates to this or that or a steady relationship. I've recently decided that it's made me better as a person. Where others crave physical affection and need to be around others, getting their high off of people admiring them I am perfectly glad to be by myself doing my own thing.

If I had never grown up with the ability to live so many lives (through gaming) I would be a hot mess. Instead of just chilling, doing my own thing and being happy about it, I would be out there trying to get that affection to no avail. Furthermore, everyone is told in school that you need to "be what makes you happy". When people try to do that, they get shut down. I can be whatever I want in games. I can get a taste of this or that and I know that I'll enjoy it.

The "real" world is so harsh and depressing but gaming makes the world revolve around the player, which can be nice for a change. If that's all too sassy for you, I've started this program where I've had over 100,000 people look at my work, and a YouTube page where over 40,000 people have viewed my videos and around 400 people (so far) are subscribed to regularly consume my content, all from gaming.

Synzer's response,

Well, I've been gaming most of my life. In the general sense, and sort of a long way to go about it, it put me where am I am now in life. There are 2 major things, though gaming in general could be linked to the first one which sort of ties everything together, though it is a stretch. I'm with my fiancé because we met in college marching band. However, I only decided to go to that college because of another friend I had in high school band. I was friends with him because we were both into games. If it wasn't for him, I would have never met my current fiancé, most likely.

Also because of gaming, I ended up finding GameSkinny. I have learned a lot about gaming journalism and the industry in general from being here. I also met a fellow fiction writer, which really let me find out more about my work and caused me to finally get work of my own underway. I probably would not have been able to spend the time I do on games if it wasn't for my fiancé, so I might never have even been here, and my writing might not have gone anywhere.

Last but not least Auverin's response,

Gaming was something I could always retreat to when things got really hard for me, which I think is true for a lot of people. But as backwards as it's going to sound, I honestly think gaming helped me come out of my shell. I was an avid reader before I was a gamer, and there are few activities more solitary than reading. I was a really lonely kid. I was shy and struggled to make friends. So I read a lot. And when you meet someone else who reads the same books, there's an instant connection. The same is true for games, but the difference for me was that I could actually share the experience of a game with someone else.

When I first started playing them seriously, I was very much a lone wolf who would only do single player campaigns or run solo in an MMO. And while there is some peace in that, it can get lonely too. And I was lonely enough in the real world that I didnt need to be lonely in my virtual ones too. So I've made a lot of good friends through my games, and those friends have consistently encouraged me to try new games and gaming-related things that I never would have otherwise. They push me to pick up a new title, or try out a shooter (which I'm usually bad at), or go on a mission that I don't feel like I'm ready for. They push me to stream and come out of my shell and play with even more new people. And while all those things are in-game, the skills definitely translate and have helped me be more comfortable with myself when I'm entering new situations.

But to balance out all that touchy feely stuff, I will also say that they really helped me understand sports a lot better. I hated watching football until I started watching eSports. So I guess you could say that my passion for gaming has helped me understand passions that I thought were different than mine.

Whether it's narrative appreciation for Jay or it has helped with something personal like Blacktidetv, Synzer, Auverin, and myself, gaming has had an effect whether it is big or small. 

So, what has gaming done for you? I would love to hear your stories in the comment section!

Convention Stories Part 1 Thu, 29 Aug 2013 11:28:26 -0400 Dr Dre X

Come everyone gather around the fire.

Today your captain will be retelling the stories of people who have gone to conventions. So get comfortable, and you may want to bring a snack.

Our first two stories come from a friend of mine who cosplayed Britain from Hetalia Axis Powers.

They Aren't Always Nice

We were all in a big CUAnime group, rather giggly because a crap ton of people wanted to take our picture, and we were pointing out different Hetalia cosplayers that walked past. We'd wave, they'd wave, hugs and pictures would be exchanged, etc. Well, every America we saw had something with her: a flag, a plushie, she was in a different American uniform, etc., but this one walked past with no one and nothing. Rob had a stuffed burger.

So he called out to her, hoping to draw her into a conversation or take a picture. "Hey America, where's your burger?" She stopped, looked him up and down like a piece of meat, gave him a condescending sneer, and said in the snobbiest voice you could possibly imagine, "My cosplay's better than yours." And flounced off. Granted, I'm sure she had paid good money for that cosplay, because they aren't cheap, but Rob had put his together using clothes he had in his closet, and including a WWII bomber jacket he had inherited from his grandfather who fought in WWII. We all just kind of stared after her, a little dumbfounded at how rude she was. We didn't see her again, and Rob was the most popular America.

The Love Story

I met Hillary Saturday of Anime USA 2011. It was magic! England, and walking around outside when I heard "Oh my God, England, can I get your picture!" It was an America, hanging out with a Russia, and a Hungary. America had called out to me, but Russia took the picture, and in turn I took a picture of them.

America--who was Hillary--gushed about what an amazing England I was and I got blushy and told her she was a fantastic America, and that Russia--our friend Shauna--and Hungary--Kristyn, who does all of our shippy photo shoots for us--were also amazing. We talked for the rest of the afternoon and into early evening, but exchanged numbers and promised to meet up in the morning.

Shauna ended up texting me the next morning (so that Hillary would stop bothering her) and we met up really early. We did a mini photo shoot, just the four of us, but they were actually more interested in taking pictures of me. It was my first photo shoot and I had no idea what I was doing. They were really nice in directing me and asking me to do different poses, etc.

We all went to lunch afterwards and just goofed around until it was time for them to leave. I did cry when Hillary left that time. I was soooo close to kissing her goodbye at her car, but I chickened out. We got to talking for a few weeks and months after that, acknowledged our mutual attraction, and started dating. We've been together since Dec. 7, 2011.

Now our next two stories come from a friend of mine we will refer to him as Mufasa. He tells us of his favorite con experience and why you shouldn’t name your children after certain characters:

The Good

People go to conventions for various reasons. Those reasons could be could be anime, video games, panels, whatever. I, however, go for the friends that I’ve developed over time. I want to say that my greatest convention memory was at Katsucon 2011, when some friends and I led the panel on How to Get Girls at Conventions. The panel was a huge success; as the room hit capacity and was filled with a very active crowd.

We answered questions, used examples, busted some of our friend’s balls… Y'know, the good stuff. There was also audience participation… Stories were told.. It was all a very good time. Afterwards, all of us that knew one another (even people who we were just first meeting at the panel!) got together, socialized and had a good time after the event. Honestly, I could probably rave on forever about good times spent with friends at conventions, but I would be writing for a very long time haha.

The Odd

I believe it’s safe to say that to this day, the oddest experience I’ve had was at Anime Boston 09. Well, to be quite honest, that entire weekend was odd. The specific event that I remember however (and will never forget) is when my friends and I decided to go to the pool of our hotel (Thursday night), and we walked into a sauna to find it filled with con-attendees including one specific female.

Now... First off, she caught all of our attention because her top was off, but whatever. It’s a convention, right? At this point in time, I’m not really surprised by anything I see at cons, haha. Anyways, we start to socialize with this lady and get to know her more. We were all having a good time, talking about random things. However at one point she brought up that she has a son. And I mean that’s cool right? We all love and adore children (not me).

Well, eventually it was revealed that the name of this son is Sephiroth. So of course, me, my friends, and others surrounding the vicinity looked very puzzled thinking “….Sephiroth?” Someone else didn’t want to believe her, and she even offered pulling out the child’s birth certificate. Now this wasn’t pulled out, but the woman seemed both serious and sober enough to be telling the truth.

During that convention, my friends and I referred to her as the “titties girl” since she didn’t keep her top on in the sauna. Oh, we didn’t catch her name either. However about half way through the con while I was wandering around, it came to my mind: “Whoa! That woman is Jenova!” At this point in time I have no idea what Jenova could be doing, especially because I haven’t seen her since. However I will say that she has been an unforgettable tale that was encountered in my convention life.

Our last story comes from a member of the CUAnime club. We will refer to him as the “The Rocker”. 

The Rocker

So the first con I went to was Sakura-Con in Seattle. Now, I'm a singer, and it just so happens that in the game room they have "Rock Band" set up on a big stage with multiple monitors, a projector screen, basically the works. I decided to go up and the song I went up to do was "Ghostbusters".

I started singing and after about a minute and a half, the whole crowd starts cheering. I look to my right and someone dressed as Venkman had joined me and the other group of con goes that were playing on the stage. He stayed up there and was rocking out with us for the entire song.

It was definitely one of the coolest moments I’ve had and helped to make my first con a memorable one.

We are going to take a break and I’ll get back to you soon with some more con stories. I’d like to thank everyone who sent me these stories and I’ll be getting back with you soon enough with a few more con stories as well as two of my own.

This is Dr. Dre signing off.
First Person: War Stories from Gamespace Mon, 04 Mar 2013 16:46:16 -0500 Vrothgarr

Avid gamers love to recount their most exciting exploits in online play; especially their moments of greatest challenge, skill, and luck. These narratives often resemble stories that real soldiers might tell upon returning from battle. However, like the games that inspire them, which in turn reflect the depiction of war in film, they are devoid of the horrors of real war; instead, they convey themes of honor, glory, sacrifice, and intrigue.

First Person: War Stories from Gamespace is a collection of fifty such War Stories from the battlefields of the Internet. Fifty accounts of valiant struggles, glorious victories, and sometimes of overwhelming defeat. This is First Person.

Kent Sheely, the mind behind the First Person project,  is a new media artist based in New York City. His work draws both inspiration and foundation from the aesthetics and culture of video games, examining the relationships between the real world and virtual ones. Kent's investigation of these connections is multifaceted, with techniques that include image manipulation, software modification, machinima, interactive installation, and live in-game performance. Much of his work centers around the translation and transmediation of symbols, concepts, and expectations from gamespace to the real world and vice-versa, forming new bridges between simulation and reality.

Kent was kind enough to sit down with us to share his beginnings, his hopes, and his vision of what’s to come from the stories we create in our games.

Let’s start where you started. What led up to the creation of First Person?

Kent Sheely: The project started as an independent conceptual art piece on the backend of my website. I made a new blog framework and set it up so gamers could post "war stories" to it, with the intention of later turning the data into a book. The basic concept was to compare gamers' "war stories" to the stories of real veterans and to the narratives in popular books, film, and television.

I had noticed that the language gamers use when swapping stories is a really strange and fascinating combination of the two, which would sound exactly like real events if not for the references to gaming tropes like "power ups" and "respawn." Another common property is that the stories from all of these sources are filtered to be as exciting and uplifting as possible, leaving out the harrowing details of real warfare and focused on the heroic acts of the narrator and his/her team.

I was having trouble getting people to participate, so I made a post on Reddit asking gamers to tell me their stories. It was a tremendous success! After the thread had run its course, Kiaha approached me about creating a new sub-board (called a "subreddit") on the site, dedicated to the concept, and signed me and MightyMofo on as admins. The community has since taken on a life of its own, completely independent from the original book project!

The book itself is a collection of fifty of the best stories from both the original thread and the dedicated subreddit. Before printing, I did a bit of editing to the grammar and spelling and used screenshots from each game to punctuate the narratives. There's something very satisfying in picking up the book and actually flipping through the stories; it really makes them feel more real.

Most of the games featured seem to be inspired by player created events in open-ended multiplayer games like DayZ or Minecraft, as well as open single player games like Fallout or Elder Scrolls. Is it the openness that makes the games more likely to provide individually powerful and unique experiences, as opposed to more linear games that provide the story for you?

KS: All of the stories in the book are from games that feature some aspect of combat, whether the player is a participant or a commander leading troops into battle. I think it's accurate to say that the more nonlinear and unpredictable a game is, the more interesting stories will be, simply because players have more freedom to act in ways that the developers could never have predicted. That's one reason why I chose multiplayer games for this book. The other is that games in which all the characters are human-controlled tend to foster a greater sense of importance and intensity when there are real players controlling both sides of the conflict. The games that more accurately represent warfare birth the stories that are most interesting to me, because they most closely portray the conditions that would produce real-life war stories.

What has the response been like from real veterans? To what extent have the editors, mods or writers had experience being a soldier, or with war or combat in general?

KS: As far as I know, the people involved with the stories have no combat or military experience to speak of. I'm sure at this point that someone involved in the military has at least read some of the posts. I'd absolutely love to get that perspective, either from a contributor or a reader, considering the fact that the project is somewhat critical of the popular culture's representation of warfare. If anybody out there fits the bill, I'd love to hear from them on Twitter @ksheely!

Cherno Journo is a YouTuber you’ve featured who plays DayZ as a journalist interviewing other players about their experiences in the game. Can you talk about what stories were included that didn't deal directly with combat?

KS: Games like DayZ are somewhat unique, in that the gameplay doesn't revolve solely around killing enemies to win the game. The stories from those games are not as frequently posted, but they're always interesting to read simply because they are so different and generally more nuanced. I've seen others that weren't about the narrator being directly involved with combat, but about getting a high score, or witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime event of some kind. These kinds of narratives are still valid, because they describe a memorable event that never physically took place; but I left them out of this book.

Outside of the common element of combat, what themes seem to prevail throughout these stories?

KS: I'd say the most recurring themes are usually about the narrator pulling off some kind of uncanny feat to win the match, an extremely unlikely turn of events that worked out in that player's favor, or some unique strategy that had unpredictable (and usually beneficial) results. Surprisingly, some of the events cited by players as their most memorable were not of victory, but of defeat. These are actually the most interesting to me. A soldier who is killed in the line of duty in real life doesn't have the ability to come back and write down what was going through his/her head, so I imagine that these kinds of stories from games are the best representation we'll ever get.

How does fictional/simulated combat resemble true combat (based on your experiences or the experiences of other vets)? What elements remain the same, which are different?

KS: From what I've seen and read, game developers tend to pursue representations of combat that are as close to realism as possible; the developers of games like Call of Duty sometimes even employ consultants with military experience to provide feedback during production. The terminology, weapon and vehicle behavior, sounds, and other elements are all carefully considered to give the player the closest possible simulation of what it's like to really be in combat. Sometimes players even report feeling intense emotion during play as a result of what's happening on the screen, because the experience has been crafted to be a representation of real battle.

That being said, even the most realistic of simulations can never capture the true horror of combat. The war stories that emerge from games are always biased toward themes of honor, daring, and sacrifice, because they describe events that were always just interactive abstractions of real warfare.

Where will First Person and /r/storiesofwar go from here?

KS: This whole project has been exciting for me, just to see the overwhelming response from the community and from the people who have already bought a copy of the book. It's really opened my eyes to the way war is represented in our various forms of media, and the ways we act it out when we play games that simulate it. If the book continues to be as well-received as it has been, I'll definitely do a follow up, and I sincerely hope that the community continues to contribute to the Stories of War subreddit. I hope it creates channels of dialogue between real combat veterans and the people who have only played video games about war, and that it helps civilians understand what life is like for soldiers (not just American ones!) that have placed themselves in the line of fire for their respective causes. On another level, I hope the project makes people think about the power of simulation itself and the ability that games have to create fictional experiences that stick with us even after we shut them off.

You can pick up your own copy of First Person: War Stories from Gamespace on sale for a limited time. ePub copies of the book are available for free. Check out one of the stories featured in the book (inspired by Red Orchestra 2) here.