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November 08, 2005

Is the future of the book a videogame?

R: I can't believe I didn't find the Institute for the Future of the Book sooner! They are a smart and provocative bunch who maintain an open mind about what possible form(s) the thing we call "book" may possibly take. Of particular interest is the thread on their blog about the commercial videogame release based on the Godfather movies, which were based on the Mario Puzo novels. They mention Gabriel Garcia Marquez's reluctance to license One Hundred Years of Solitude:

Much has been said about the difficulty to faithfully adapt books to film. García Márquez, whose first love is film, defends his refusal to sell the rights of One Hundred Years of Solitude to Hollywood, saying that the screen robs the viewer the freedom of completing the characters of the novel in his imagination. His readers can, for instance, identify José Arcadio Buendía with an uncle or a grandfather. But, he argues, if that character were to be played by Robert Redford, that freedom of association would be lost. It would also be quite difficult to re-create on film the complex time structure of García Márquez's novel, or to render credible the many instances of magical realism that, when reading, one doesn't doubt for a second. Could this be done using electronic media?

This entry, by Sol Gaitan, continues to speculate about the time investment videogame players are willing to commit, and the disbelief we are all willing to suspend when engaged by high quality experiences. Mr. Gaitan doesn't offer any solutions nor does he find any conclusions, but his questions are provocative and deserve further exploration. We obviously don't yet know the full capability of the videogame. Several authors have attempted to describe them as either imperfect movies, or as that thing that cinema aspires to become. This is the first evidence I have found in a while that someone is thinking about the videogame as something a book – or, more specifically, a novel – might become.

Other blog entries include a meditation on Neal Stephenson's Diamnond Age, and another on the game Halo 2, and an older piece on the replacing of books by videogames in the lives of youngsters. Cool.

Posted by SWEAT at November 8, 2005 11:02 AM


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