I played the Discworld video game, remarkably, before I’d read a single Terry Pratchett book. I don’t know if that speaks more to the cultural cache of video games, or to my own literary ignorance growing up, but getting to the age of 11 in the United Kingdom of the late twentieth century without having read a Terry Pratchett book is quite an astonishing un-achievement. One that I quickly remedied, of course.
This was decades ago (I am old), and you’d think that, if anything, the acceptance of video games as a valid form of artistic expression would have progressed somewhat since then. I’m not sure it has, although mercifully we do seem to have seen the back of the dreaded “are games art?” debate, if only because everyone who ever got involved in it either died or got so bored of the subject that they happily conceded that it didn’t matter either way. Who cares, just shoot the demons dumbass (or, indeed, the demon’s dumb ass).
But I can’t help but think that Pratchett, by all accounts a deeply thoughtful, kind hearted, and forward-thinking man, would have had a more progressive attitude toward my getting into his work via a PS1 game starring Eric Idle rather than, say, by being made to read Only You Can Save Mankind as part of a syllabus. More progressive than, say, Andrzej Sapkowski’s, who is on record about his view that gaming is an unserious form of entertainment that has trivialised his work.
Terry loved games. He adored The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and at the time when I was playing the point and click adventure based on his Rincewind novels, he was enjoying Tomb Raider on the PS1, and in the process helping to forge his daughter Rhianna’s deep love of the medium. She would, of course, go on to become a titan of this industry, whose extensive CV includes modernising Lara’s character and origins for the acclaimed 2013 reboot, and writing an extremely rare example of genuinely funny video game fantasy in the form of the Overlord series.
Books and games are always doing this little dance, it seems. They pilfer each other for characters, settings, themes, and concepts. Their respective industries feed each other with talent. And, most importantly of all, their intertwined relationship inspired the topic for this very podcast, which is:
The best game based on a book that nobody who played it has actually read.
Please do let us know what you think of the show – and if this is your first time listening, do go back to listen to the previous episodes. If you’ve got suggestions for topics, we’d love to hear them, because Tom got a right nark on about having to Google “books” this week and I don’t want a repeat of this tantrum every time I suggest a topic that the panel has to actually research.
“What is VG247’s Best Games Ever Podcast?” you ask? Well, it is essentially a 30-minute panel show where people (Jim Trinca and associates) decide on the best game in a specific category. That’s it. It’s good. Listen to it.
We’ve got some details on the show’s content below, and we also have a fan-created artist’s impression of what Chris Bratt would look like if he was having a nice soak in a wooden bathtub. (Support friends of VG247, People Make Games, on Patreon).
The best game based on a book that nobody who played it has actually read
That is the topic of Episode 24 of this podcast. Here’s a rundown of who picked what.
Tom – Jurassic Park on the Mega CD
By his own admission, a pretty rubbish game for a pretty rubbish platform. At least you tried, Tom!
Alex – Parasite Eve
A Square Enix game based on an obscure book, highly acclaimed to this day, and complete with a convoluted origin story which features, among other things, further evidence of Square’s love/hate relationship with the west. Classic Donaldson play, this. If Big the Cat was in it we could call it the most Donaldson game of all time (he loves Big the Cat).
Kelsey – The Binding of Isaac
Another brilliant leftfield choice from Kelsey let down only slightly by the fact that the book in question is the bible and therefore isn’t particularly obscure (although, having said that, I don’t know anyone who has read it, so that’s nitpicking at best).
Come back in a week for another exciting instalment of VG247’s Best Games Ever Podcast.