Some stories make natural transitions among media: books to movies, movies to video games, television to books. Other directions are both less commonplace and less successful. Kotaku, perhaps tongue in cheek, nonetheless lists one reader's top ten sci-fi and fantasy books that deserve the video game treatment:

  1. The Integral Trees (Larry Niven)
  2. Uplift (David Brin)
  3. Forever War (Joe Haldeman)
  4. Eight Worlds (John Varley)
  5. Discworld (Terry Pratchett)
  6. Eight Worlds (David Weber)
  7. Blood Ties (Tanya Huff)
  8. Caves of Steel (Isaac Asimov)
  9. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
  10. Foundation (Mercedes Lackey)

Most of these books I'm familiar with but have not read myself. As Kotaku's Discworld has already been adapted to electronic entertainment, though not recently. Not listed is Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, which was in development as a downloadable game for cell phones, XBLA, and other platforms but was ultimately cancelled. Foundation I thought would make a good Civilization-type game until I realized it was not the book by Isaac Asimov. But Civilization is exactly the model this list's author suggests for a Watership Down game. That is the item with which I take the most umbrage, solely because I count the animated adaptation of Richard Adams' novel as among my favorite films ever. I don't see how any game experience could do it justice.

Is there a reason that more books haven't been adapted to game? Do books lack the "brand recognition" necessary to be a commercial success? Am I too mired in tradition to consider this potential bounty of material for the next generation of sci-fi and fantasy games? If so, what games do you think could successfully make the leap?

One thought on “Sci-fi and fantasy books that should be games

  1. I'd like to see some of the books listed above adapted into movie or TV miniseries form. Of course, I'd prefer BBC/PBS miniseries, not schlocky SyFy Channel ones.

    As with Hollywood adaptations, videogames need name recognition to be commercially successful. This is why we'll keep seeing Spider-Man and Batman games and Philip K. Dick flicks instead of versions of what genre fans already know to be other classics.

    Still, there's always hope that fans who are also game designers will eventually turn their attention to these stories.

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