Is This the Next Big Thing?

Last month the NSW Writer’s Centre asked a few authors, myself included, what we thought the next big thing might be for YA and children’s books. At the time I hazarded a guess that maybe it would be ghosts, as vampires had already had their moment in the sun and zombies had been finally laid to rest. Awful puns I know but I’m keeping them because that’s about as good as it gets for me!

I wish someone would ask me again because my future-telling skills have surged and I think I am a lot closer to the mark now. It struck me recently that somewhere along the line I had stopped thinking ‘this book would make a great movie’ and moved on to ‘this book would make a great game.’ I think we are going to see a spike in books with gaming plots. After all, Assassin’s Creed, the game, has already spawned a book. The flip side is the obvious move. I’m not talking about Zac Power style action (although they are still excellent reads), I’m talking about the harder stuff. First person shooter. Mutants. Lots of weapons. Etc. Etc. The violence would need to be adjusted for the audience age.

During the recent debate about the Australian censorship of Left for Dead 2, a fact emerged that suprised me. The average gamer is in his twenties – not a teenage boy! So there’s an enormous market out there – for both YA and middle grade – of readers who would prefer to play games first and read second. No points for guessing what they would like to read.

Just after this epiphany hit me, Monster Republic arrived on my desk. It’s a sci-fantasy for upper primary to younger teens and it’s almost what I was thinking of. Not quite – the gaming plotline isn’t strong enough to qualify (it is however an excellent book for boys in that age range). The cover however is a bullseye. It could be a game disk.

So am I going to write the gamer book? Probably not – it’s not where I want to be. I could do it though. I have spent the last ten years watching all manner of games evolving, reading instructions for #2 son, installing programs and marvelling at the DVD cover work.
And that’s another thing, the gamer book covers are going to be something spectacular.

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9 responses to “Is This the Next Big Thing?”

  1. Hi, Sandy. Thanks for dropping by my blog.

    This is a fascinating post! And I think you’re right. I am not a gamer, however. Dang it.

    A lot of people here are saying that ANGELS are the next (perhaps it is current?) trend. I don’t know if it will be the Big One, though. People just seem to note what editors have bought for the past few months and call it the next trend.

    Trends, really, are up to the readers, don’t you think?

  2. That last comment sums it all up. And also gives me free licence – I’m a reader so I’ll write what I like and maybe start a trend *smile*

  3. Tracey says:

    Sandy, I know from my own teenager (14) and almost teenager (12) that the first person shooter games are right up there as a the strategy games like Assassin’s Creed. My 14 year old loves the Matthew Rielly books and having read one this week I can understand why. It reminds me of the films the boys liked at his age – Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc, full of action and adventure. He’s not really into the touchy, feely books that a lot of the reviewers are promoting for young adults, even though he is an excellent reader and reads extensively. For example, he read Paul Jenning’s “The Nest” recently and didn’t really wasn’t that enthusiastic despite saying the concepts were things that his age group were thinking of. (I recommended the book to him based on the reviews I had read). I read the book as well and was a little shocked to be honest.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well Sandy, I’m REALLY hoping you’re right about the gaming books as my latest book is GAMERS’ QUEST. It’s set within a gaming world and aimed at 11+. It even has a computer-animated book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vCC-l34Fgo
    Cheers, George

  5. Hey George, I did think of Gamer’s Quest as I was writing the post and I think it’s very much an excellent companion to what I am talking about. I was thinking something more First Person Shooter or RPG rather than game player/game plot – but I think you are right in pointing out they are all part of the gaming package. Here’s hoping it’s a wave that runs all the way into the beach (ps if anyone is looking for an excellent book for upper primary boys I can recommend Gamer’s Quest)

  6. Sally Murphy says:

    Great post, Sandy. I think you are right on the money both with the likelihood of gaming books risign in popularity, but also agree that you have to ‘want to be tehre’ if you are going to try to write for whatever big thing there is. If one writes just to fit trends, it is very difficult to imbue the stories with the right amount of passion.

  7. I agree, Sally. It’s strange sometimes where our ‘writer heart’ takes us. I love to read fantasy – it’s my favourite genre as a reader by far but after an initial dabble, I found I had no passion to write it. My reading heart loves it, my writing heart isn’t interested. Wierd!

  8. We have Willia C Deitz, Eric Nyland and Tobias S Buchnal’s “Halo” and “Mass Effect” books. They are based on first person shooter games and they are huge.

    Jeff.

  9. Excellent. I’ll track those titles down. They were titles where games inspired books, weren’t they? Do you know any instances that worked in reverse?

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