Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Minecraft Releases Fiction Novel

Apparently there's a Minecraft novel that's been sanctioned by Mojang, so of course we have to talk about it today. 'Minecraft: The Island' is everything you wouldn't expect in an adaptation of a video game. Particularly with Minecraft since the game has no clear objectives. You could argue that "Steve" is the lead character, but what your avatar does is entirely up to you. You can build, mine, hunt, fish, burrow, swim, fly, go to battle: the options are endless. But with no end-game goal, what kind of story is there to tell that would translate into a book?

Max Brooks is the author of 'Minecraft: The Island' and was willing to tackle that question. If the name sound familiar, he's the man behind 'World War Z.' His work typically focuses on zombies, the paranormal, and survival.

Mojang has looked to branched out into fictional books for years. They currently have a set of gaming guides, 10 in all, with over 25 million copies printed. And a quick pop over to FanFiction.net or ArchiveOfOurOwn.org you'll see that Minecraft is a popular topic for writers. Brooks seems like an odd choice to write for Minecraft, but his unique perspective may be exactly what Mojang needs to get the fictional market to work for them. He's also an avid Minecraft player. The story was written as a first-person narrative, where the character is, essentially, a new player to the game. S/he has to learn how to build a home, defend it from spiders and zombies, and so forth - all things you learn to do as you play. The way Brooks wrote the story was to allow those who read it to be able to replicate the activities in the game. It's a clever way to bridge that gap between the novelization and the game. Mojang was fairly hands-off on the story, according to Brooks. But they did want to ensure that the main character was open to interpretation. Part of the fun of Minecraft is it's inclusive nature, and the book needed to replicate that. You'll find that the book makes no mention of gendered pronouns. The book was also in development during some of the game's biggest updates, including a new combat system. To keep up with the patches, Brooks had to re-write whole chapters.

To help promote the book, a digital island was created in the game as a replica from 'Minecraft: The Island.' People can download it and play out the book's scenarios. Along with YouTube promotions, the goal is to attract gamers of Minecraft to the book first, and then branch out from there. Without the gamers invested, the book won't have much of a chance to succeed. 

This might be a book worth picking up. If I do, I'll be sure to post a review.

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