Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gaming and Fiction

Recently, noisms posted his thoughts about RPGs and fiction, something I've also been giving a lot of thought to recently, so I figured I'd share a bit of what I had to say on the subject.

The first question in my mind is why don't we see more gamer-authors? With a hobby as creatively fertile as RPGs, you'd think you'd see people turning their games into fiction all the time. Yet, as noisms points out, even when you get an author to admit he "used to" game, he's at pains to separate himself from the hobby. Perhaps it's fear of being labeled a hack? That, as a writer, you're expected to come up with your ideas from whole cloth? Or is it the "gaming ghetto" effect, where branding yourself as a gamer has the same stigma in the professional world as it does on the dating scene?

For the record, the book I'm working on right now was directly inspired by a one-shot I ran with Des a couple years ago. Obviously I've taken it in my own creative direction, but the plot line is relatively the same as the game we played back then. If I'm lucky enough to get it published, and I'm lucky enough to see it successful enough to warrant people wanting to talk to me about the writing process, I won't hide that fact. I wonder how many authors have done so. Do their agents tell them to downplay it, or is it self-censoring? Hmmm.

Noisms brings up another point that's often bothered me: are RPGs too much of a creative siphon? In other words, if we didn't have gaming as a creative outlet, would we all have been forced to become frustrated artists and writers in an attempt to exorcise our collective visions? I'm inclined to say yes. But at the same time, I know that RPGs have done me the benefit that hundreds of hours of creative writing courses never could have. I've learned innumerable lessons about plot, pacing, characterization, and storytelling and seen my vocabulary, research, and reading comprehension levels skyrocket. So it can't be all bad, and I certainly feel it's made my first stab at writing a novel go much more smoothly than it might have otherwise.

I guess in the end, all I can really do is pledge to do my part to represent gamers as authors who aspire to do more than mass-produce genre fluff. Then again, at this point I wouldn't say no to cranking out a few dozen Forgotten Realms novels if WOTC came knocking. I'd just need to think of a good pen name...
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