This is a short essay I wrote on a statement, comparing literature and gaming.
“The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose.” said Margaret Atwood, and this applies for gaming as well. If you look at the game ‘Catan. ‘Catan’ is a game where the goal is to collect resources such as grain, lumber, bricks, ore, and wool. Then to build settlements, roads and cities, to collect point and then to win the game. Based on this game I believe that when you use gaming in a meaningful way, then you can wonder and question things, like in literature, which then lead to answers, meaning Margaret Atwood’s statement is also applicable to the gaming world.
There is a theme and a tone in gaming and literature. Specifically in ‘Catan’ the theme is survival and the tone is very realistic, because the game is like real life. The idea is to survive, which you do by trading and placing your settlements strategically so you can collect more resources. When the story or game has a theme, it makes the reader or player think outside the box and think of situations that remind them of this game or book. The tone in the game is as mentioned, quite realistic. Which is ironic because the layout is very child-like, with many bright colours and cartoon characters. This poses questions to the player, because they wonder in many stages. Since the game is for everyone, people of all ages will come up with different questions, and I think compared to literature, gaming can enhance just as many questions.
As in literature gaming also has the idea of imagery and a setting. “The hexagonal spaces („hexes“) that make up the map are arranged differently each time, and each represents a different kind of terrain—fields, forest, hills, mountains, pastureland, and desert” (pcmag, Catan HD) Even though the setting is already given in a game, and since games are visual, the imagery is also given, the player still wonders about this unknown landscape. With gaming, the first step of imagining this world has already been given to you, and you can wonder on and imagine what it’s like. But when you read a book, even if it’s realistic fiction, the mind can imagine freely what’s it’s like being in this made up world, with no specifications allready made from a visual image, such as in gaming.
Characters are a huge part of both gaming and literature. The story is lived through this person or creature. It is also what brings a sense of emotion into the game. Another element that gaming and literature shares, is the quest that the player or main character in on. “Each player gets two settlements at the start of the game…Different things you want to build cost different amounts of resources…when one player reaches a set amount of points…he or she wins.” (pcmag, Catan HD) This specific quote explains the quest that the player has in Catan. The main idea is to gather resources and then to win with a certain amount of points. Often books or games, there is a challenge or a mission, like in Pandemic, that the main character has to solve. In literature the quest is set. Maybe, there might be a feeling of mystery because the reader doesn’t know what is going to happen. In gaming, the ending of the game is unknown, it is up to the player to determine what decisions are best to survive. So by giving the player this responsibility, the player questions many different possibilities and also feels some what emotional when the game is over, and has either succeeded or not.
Gaming is just as good as literature when it comes to Atwood’s statement. There are some points where literature might be less visual and therefore create a world of it’s own in the reader’s’ mind. On the other hand, gaming let’s the player decide what happens, and therefore creates a personal and emotional connection to the end result. Just as many questions can be posed and therefore answered in gaming as there can be in literature.