Books & Videogames
I have always been interested in the stories people create, whether that be: poems, music, art, novels or video games; each one telling a different tale with a different meaning. In fact, I have been known to write a story or two myself, in terms of articles, but my greatest passions are reading and gaming which, I believe, tell the most unique stories of them all! This is perhaps because books can create focused linear narratives whilst video games make decision-based ones. Alongside each other, both give access to two completely different ways of experiencing the same narrative.
Research has shown that a book inspired by a story within a video game, appears to stunt its success; people seem less inclined to read stories relating to games rather than books in their own right; maybe they are seen as inferior. Whatever the case, I want to change this perception! My aim, over the next two issues, is to explore the value of video game narratives or narratives inspired by video games with you good reader! Ultimately, I hope to create an online reading group to discuss personal thoughts and feeling about gaming novels.
'NieR: Automata' is a story which takes place ten thousand years into an apocalyptic future. Two sentient androids, named 9S and 2B, are fighting a proxy war to protect the remnants of humanity from an alien threat of invading machines. Lacking both distinguishable features and true names, 9S and 2B must continue to fight whilst also learning what it means to be alive.
The story of NieR: Automata happens to be one of my favourite games as well as one of my favourite gaming novels. The narrative offers classical science fiction elements alongside other genres such as fantasy and mystery whilst presenting easily digestible posthumanism philosophical questions that interested me enough to research these concepts afterwards. For instance, I learnt that posthumanism is the idea that humanity can be transformed, transcended, or eliminated either by technological advances or the evolutionary process. I’ll leave out how this concept links to the plot as this would spoil the fun but hopefully, I’ve intrigued you!
Additionally, in NieR: Automata, certain androids and machines have names and theories which relate to famous philosophers, creating another layer of interest to me as a player and reader. The Supply Trader, for example, plays a minor role in both the game and novel but serves to introduce the player/reader to the Theseus Paradox: a thought experiment that raises the question of whether an object (or android in this case) which has had all of its components replaced, remains fundamentally the same object? There are many examples like this in the story, so if you’re curious about philosophy or science fiction, I would recommend the novel to you.
Overall, my rating for NieR: Automata: Long Story Short, is 10/10. This brilliant novel of science fiction emerged from the popular game of its namesake and whilst the reader experiences the plot on a linear level and the player experiences it as a non-chronological participant, both have the bonus of exploring philosophy with an extra sprinkling of other genres to boot.
Gaming narratives serve to bridge the connection between games and novels and if you need further convincing, look out for my next article with further recommendations!
Words: Jack Jerram
Images: Jack Jerram & Adobe Stock