I’ve recently flown a sortie into the gaming realm and given the medium my best shot. The result is Aurora’s Gamble, a short story now being parceled out as part of the release build up for AErena: Clash of Champions by Cliffhanger Productions.
While I’m by no means a hardcore gamer, I’ve had my addictions over the years. The one I’ve never been able to completely kick is the turn based game, Civilization. Not a lot of great backstory to be written there (other than our world’s history, which has already been written about a fair amount from what I’ve been told). The other game I enjoyed for several years was StarCraft. (If you haven’t googled “zerg rush” give it a try. Hilarious.) That game always had the greatest backstory worked into game play via video clips, etc. Since then, I’ve been enamored with the idea of mining video game backstory.
But as a yet-to-be-famous schmuck writer, I was overlooked for the Halo contract which was handed to Greg Bear instead (Sure, he’s okay, I guess.) Since I’ve never lasted longer than like 5 seconds in a round of Halo, I suppose that’s fair. (I’m always the guy running around with his gun pointing at the ground and his POV at the sky.)
Due to my multiple dips into the stylish world of dieselpunk, my writing came to the attention of Cliffhanger Productions. In turn, they contracted me to help bring their cleverly imagined backstory into focus. I had a blast doing it. It’s a great world to explore, even if you aren’t a gamer.
Is Fiction Within a Game’s Universe Limited to Gamers?
And there in lies the gambit. When writing backstory within a gaming universe that has already breached the consciousness of pop culture, there are a few clear advantages: 1.) established readership 2.) some defined boundaries 3.) jargon, terms and culture built up among the fans. 4.) even non-gamers know about the game and its universe.
But when writing within a gaming universe yet to see the light of day, bold risks must be taken upfront. The most obvious is the time and energy I put into a story that might not ever find its audience. (Although, I suppose this is always the case when writing.) This is where a question emerges for me: When writing backstory for a gaming universe, has the readership automatically been limited to those who enjoy the game?
Or can the fiction be enjoyed on its own right? I suspect this question will rise to the surface more in the coming months and years as games continue to integrate creative means of profit making directly into their platform via game enhancements, downloads, etc. Not to mention the simple fact that gaming worlds are becoming more comprehensive and lavish all the time.
For Those Interested in AErena: Clash of Champions
Cliffhanger is calling the fiction “AEtherpunk” as a twist on the growing popularity of steampunk and the lessor dieselpunk. Their world diverges from Earth’s history with the beginning of the twentieth century. For a brief summary, click here. And here is their facebook page.
In the first short story, Aurora’s Gamble, I introduce the reader to a handful of the up-and-comers. Check it out, and let me know what you think. Do stories like this have merit outside of the game itself?