Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Writing for Science-Fiction and
Fantasy Games
Chris Klug
12.1 Fireball Spells and Ray Guns, What's the Difference?
What is the big deal? I mean, why even bother to try and separate these two genres?
The idea for this chapter came from years of being frustrated with (mostly)
younger writers who seemingly didn't understand the difference between these two
forms of genre fiction. I would work with, say, a freelancer, or I would be inter-
viewing a potential employee, and we'd get talking about sci-fi and fantasy. In those
situations, I was mostly working on science-fiction games, so the dissonance was
coming from the direction of fantasy-to-science-fiction (as opposed to the other way
around). I'd make a comment about the kind of story we were telling, or the kind
of style I was looking for, and the applicant would make some sort of comment to
the effect of, “That's kind of like what Jordan did in The Wheel of Time ,” or, “I've
seen that done well in The Dragonriders of Pern ,” and I'd think to myself, “Why is
this person pulling examples from fantasy when we're doing a sci-fi story?” I'd dig
deeper and find out that, all too often, the applicanthadn'treadagreatdealofwhatI
would consider science fiction (Asimov, Heinlein, Niven, Card, Orwell). I remember
vividly in 1997 when I was doing a fantasy N64 title (let me repeat that, a fantasy
title), the author most often quoted to me as a “touchstone” was Jordan. Now, I don't
mean to take anything away from Robert Jordan, rest his soul, but the point here is
that many younger fans of genre fiction aren't very well read. I'm sure this would be
different today since the Lord of the Rings ( LotR ) movies had yet to be released, but
hardly anyone in that discussion had ever cracked open Tolkien. So I guess expecting
younger readers to know the early greats in any of the genres might be too “old-
fashioned” of me. But that didn't explain the ignorance of the distinction between
fantasy and science fiction.
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