Top 5 Novels That Should Be Games

Written by David

It’s no secret that, traditionally, video games have crappy plots. It seems that more and more video games are full of Clich? protagonists, mixed with forgettable backdrops, and campy villains. There have been exceptions to the rule, and with the upcoming release of “plot heavy” games like Mass Effect and Bioshock, it seems that the gaming industry is making strides in the right direction. So what else can developers do to improve the entire game experience? Without hiring vast teams of writers, how can they portray a quality story? To find that answer, all they have to do is look towards the movie industry.

The movie industry is also known for cheap, unbelievable plots. So, how do they deal with it? They use critically acclaimed novels as the basis for their movies. It makes perfect sense. This method works well for the most part, but sometimes the true spirit of the novel gets lost in translation. Yet, those same movies that fail to grasp the spirit of the written literature are used as the foundation for video games. Titles like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many others are guilty of failing to inspire the same passion as the original written works. So what you are left with is a game that was based off of a movie, based off of a novel. Why does the gaming industry need the middle-man?

So without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, here are my top 5 novels that should be made into games. Check the list after the jump.


#5: The Eye of the World – by Robert Jordan

Basic Premise: The return of the “Dragon” means both liberation and destruction. The forces of good and evil are preparing for the final battle, and three friends from a small town are caught up in the conflict. This is the first in the acclaimed “Wheel of Time” series.

Why it would be awesome: Robert Jordan’s richly-crafted world stands arguably at the top of modern fantasy work. Jordan’s use of magic in his world is incredibly compelling, and the execution of those ideas would make for a really incredible RPG experience. Too many games have you learn a spell by reading a “book”, (Basically just double clicking on an item? hey! I know how to throw fireballs out of my hands!) Jordan’s method of “weaving” would greatly improve the way we learn spells.

Why this novel over others? The Wheel of Time series has already been realized into a video game. There may be arguments against the series being on this list, as George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series is considered superior by some. I chose Wheel of Time over the others because the previous game made for the series merely hinted at the greatness that a true rendition of the novel would produce.


#4: Starship Troopers – by Robert A. Heinlein

Basic Premise:
In one of Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the universe and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry.

Why it would be awesome:
The suits worn in the novel are basically “powered-suits”. These suits enable the soldier to hover for short periods of time, fire flame-throwers out of their arms, and shoot nuclear-powered rocket launchers. You are basically the basic Terran Marines from Starcraft, only much cooler.

Why this novel over others?
This choice might be harder to understand. Yes, they made a movie. Yes, they made a game based on the movie. Do me a favor, go read this book, and tell me if the movie does it even an iota of justice. It’s hard to really put into words how much better the book is than the movie. Let’s put it this way, if you took the novel by Heinlein, and then had your dog eat it, the remaining parts you would find in the yard represent the movie.


#3: The Gunslinger – by Stephen King

Basic Premise:
The Gunslinger is the first volume in the Dark Tower Series, which King considers to be his “Lord of the Rings”. The story centers upon “the gunslinger”, who has been chasing after his adversary, “the man in black”, for many years.

Why it would be awesome:
Roland, the gunslinger is an interesting and unique character that would translate well into the gaming world. Imagine a western shooter, with fantasy elements. The draw here is that you could basically have the visual quality of Frogger, and the story itself would still bring an amazing experience.

Why this novel over others?
The western genre in gaming has never really hit its stride. While a few developers have tried to catch the “Clint Eastwood” quality in their characters, nobody embodies those traits better than “the gunslinger”. Even for those of you that are not fans of Stephen King’s horror work, the Dark Tower series is an amazing joy to read.


#2: I Am Legend – by Richard Matheson

Basic Premise:
The book opens with the monotony and horror of the daily life of the protagonist, Robert Neville. Neville is apparently the only survivor of an apocalypse caused by a pandemic of a bacterium the symptoms of which are very similar to vampirism. He lives in a house fortified against nocturnal attacks by the roaming infected, and sallies forth by daylight to kill the sleeping vampires.

Why it would be awesome:
Racing against the clock to fortify your house and supplies during the daytime, along with Neville’s solitary-induced psychosis would promise a thrilling experience. The real beauty here is that you would really feel like your home in the game is your only true “safe” place, and would immerse the gamer into the world like never before.

Why this novel over others?
It’s been stated that “I am Legend” is the basis for all current zombie material. Countless books, movies, and games have been based off of themes portrayed in this classic novel, but none have really done it justice.


#1: Ender’s Game – by Orson Scott Card

Basic Premise:
In a future where mankind has barely survived two invasions by the “buggers”, an insectoid alien race, the world’s most talented children, including the extraordinary Ender Wiggin, are taken into “Battle School” at a very young age to supply commanders for the expected Third Invasion.

Why it would be awesome: The true experience of “Battle School” centers around a game played in zero gravity. In the simplest terms, this game is a zero-g version of laser-tag. While that might not sound like much, the execution of that idea in the book makes for one of the most interesting ideas for a video-game that has yet to be realized.

Why this novel over others?
While not only being a classic of modern science-fiction, Ender’s Game itself is suited perfectly for the world of video games. Video games show up all over the book, from the game the cadets play, to all aspects of battle school life. The world crafted in Ender’s game is the most obvious choice for a game adaptation, thus making it #1 on my list.

So there you have it. I’m sure this will spark much debate over what other novels should be considered. But if you take nothing else away from this article, I urge you to read all of these books. The fiction market is saturated with crappy literature, and these books really stand hands-above so many others.

6 thoughts on “Top 5 Novels That Should Be Games

  1. Matt

    I love the Enders game series (and all novels by OSC) but I have a hard time visualizing a compelling game experience based on it. A movie could be amazing, but it was have to be directed with the dedicating and faithfulness Peter Jackson gave LOTR… I’m just not sure about EG making good game… I’d still love to see it tried, and tried by someone besides Electronic Arts…

  2. Austin

    I’ll have to pick up a copy of the Starship Troopers novel. The PC game [based on the movie, I guess] was god awful. Also since “I am Legend” is being made into a movie, I wonder if they will try to make a game tie-in.

  3. angfu

    Oh hell yeah!! Great list!! Orson Scott Card and his Ender’s Game series is one of my all time favorites. I hear they are planning a movie.

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