There were Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Tom Sawyer games for the NES. Parasite Eve for the PlayStation was based on a novel. Someone relatively recently made a NES-like game out of The Great Gatsby. So here are ten books that I think could possibly be adapted into worthy games. I limited myself to real literature that professors like and not dumb fantasy novels that could easily be converted to hack-n-slash titles. I gotta do something useful with my English degree, right?
10. Animal Farmville
An obvious parody of Farmville. You can work hard to build up the farm and even buy stuff with real money, but the pigs take it all and under some moronic legalistic pretense that everyone accepts because they are spineless sheep. (Sometimes literally. The sheep part, not the spineless part.) Then the CEO Pigcus takes back the farmer’s preferred stock options right before the IPO. Ultimately, everything you work towards comes to naught as Animal Farmville degrades into a Stalinist nightmare world. The game ends when you die of starvation while your Glorious Leader lives in revolting luxury.
Who would buy this game? Hamsters who just can’t get enough of that wheel
A graphical adventure game for Slaughterhouse-Five could be cool, like I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream was. You could repeatedly jump through time periods to perform different tasks, similar to Dark Seed except not trash. It could be either forced at certain times for plot purposes or (more entertainingly) a game element where you can switch at any time.
Who would buy this game? People who love using every item with every item until the plot progresses
8. The Old Man and the Sea fishing sim
OK, this one is kind of a stretch because the book is about determination and chasing your dreams even when they are crushed before you and not actually about something as simple as fishing. So make it like Desert Bus: you have to keep slowly pulling in the fish over the course of several days before you can finish, no shortcuts or handholding. It would be pretty easy to program and you could sell it as a pretentious indie artgame. You’d get loads of awards and praise for minimal effort, which is the ideal of many an indie game designer.
Who would buy this game? People with autism, Penn & Teller
7. The Stand expansion for Fallout
This would work together fantastically. You have a game that’s all about the post-apocalypse survival, and here’s a book about the apocalypse. Just change nukes (Or make them less prominent) to the experimental U.S. military virus Captain Trips and you’ve got yourself a good prequel storyline. Run through the wilderness, fight gangs of mercenaries and starving people, dig through people’s houses for supplies. Meet up with Randall Flagg (Who coincidentally lives in the ruins of Las Vegas) and join his cult or fight him. Lots of cool opportunities here.
Who would buy this game? People who love exploration, blood & guts
6. Lolita dating sim
No, not really. Just seeing if you’re paying attention.
Who would buy this game? People on an FBI watch list, Japan
5. Lord of the Flies
Make this another Sierra style point-and-click adventure game, or a bloodier and more interesting version of Lost in Blue. Get stranded on an island, hunt vainly for food, put other kids on trial and murder them, be a good example of the horribleness of humanity.
Who would buy this game? Hobbesians who love item hunting
4. Nineteen Eighty-Four
Make this another text adventure game, but one where people and environments subtly change around you until they’re completely unrecognizable. Make the change in descriptions of stuff very slow so the player doesn’t realize that history is being rewritten around them. Then, at the end, you can’t escape Room 101 until you say “Do it to Julia.” Like, you can use all the items in your inventory and interact with anything you want, but it’s hopeless until you give up psychologically. Forcing the player to make the decision would be akin to the end of Metal Gear Solid 3 where you have to press a button on your controller during a cutscene for your onscreen character to pull the trigger on a loved one. No multiple endings and certainly no happy ending available.
Who would buy this game? Interactive fiction fans who want to know what schizophrenia feels like but are too privileged to have a crippling mental illness or move to North Korea
3. Finnegans Wake
A parser-based text adventure game based on this or Ulysses would be hilarious. WHY CAN’T I MAKE THIS DAMN THING DO ANYTHING? It could even be full of bugs and errors and bad design decisions and the players wouldn’t even know it. Incomprehensibility equals brilliance, right?
Who would buy this game? The “BRAID IS AAAAAHT” people. You just don’t understand it.
2. Dante’s Inferno
Forget the tepid God of War clone, the original 14th-century epic poem is a goldmine of valuable material. It could be a visual novel with Dante traveling through the three otherworldly spheres, meeting dead heroes and villains of bygone eras. You even have a hapless protagonist who needs everything explained to him and Virgil/Beatrice to provide lots of exposition. Also, a game about Dante’s Inferno should leave out Mohammed unless you want to be famous for being the first video game developer to be publicly beheaded.
Who would buy this game? Poetry nerds, and maybe you could get your English professor to chuckle at it before he stops playing after five minutes
1. Atticus Finch: Ace Attorney
This one writes itself. You have a selfless defense lawyer who fights against injustice, an innocent client who is obviously being railroaded by a corrupt kangaroo court, and a cast of complete jerks who want to ruin both of your lives because you’re doing the right thing. Make it a fun game as well as a commentary on the horrific legal abuses of United States courts in order To Kill Two Mockingbirds with one stone.
Who would buy this game? Every cool person on the planet