In the last few years, electronic and computer gaming have become increasingly popular, opening up to previously untapped markets (like my grandmother), so it makes sense that the industry would eventually turn to books as a source of inspiration. Now, while some books provide perfect fodder for gaming activities, like solving the Masonic mysteries of The Lost Symbol, others might not, like, say, virtual butlering in The Remains of the Day. The romance genre, with its built-in encouragements of reader identification and beach daydream role-play, seems a perfect fit. That’s one of the reasons why I-play, a computer gaming company that has already worked to make the work of James Patterson and Agatha Christie interactive, has teamed up with Nora Roberts to fashion a downloadable casual-play game out of her 2009 novel Vision in White.
“I think it’s great that there are so many kinds of media to play with,” says Roberts. “And to have a story translated into a game like this, it’s tremendous fun for me. It’s my initial vision, but I enjoy seeing how, when you translate it into that other medium, how somebody else’s vision manages to affect it but keep the core of the story.” The game follows the plot of Vision (about four friends who operate a wedding-planning company), punctuating the story with hidden-object tasks and nuptial-themed mini-games. Roberts says she likes the idea of turning her books into games, and that she’d even be interested in adapting some of her other, non-romance work, including the …in Death series she writes under the pseudonym J.D. Robb.
The famously prolific author is a fan of casual computer games herself, using them to help keep her mind elastic as she writes her 5-10 novels a year. “Almost everyone I know who’s a writer plays some sort of game, just to keep the mind fresh or to work the one side of the brain for a while, while you let the story cook on the other side. Hopefully, you’ve got enough discipline not to spend all day at it because they’re pretty addicting.”
She hopes that people will realize that there is a huge female audience for gaming, and more material will be released with them in mind. “I think they’d be fools not to,” she says. “We like to play just as much as a guy does. Maybe different types of games, though I like things that blow up, too.”