Read the Novel, *then* Play the Game

I’m a little late to the party, and I haven’t read the novel nor have I played the game. (Our home PC isn’t up to the task just yet.) But I did just finish reading the review for _Mass Effect: Revelation_ the novel that came out in June 2007 and the review for the game _Mass Effect_ which came out in October 2007.

Yes, once upon a time, films were renditions of novels or short stories. Then, later, in the wake of a (or “the” for some) blockbuster _Star Wars_, novels were commissioned after a successful vehicle was established. Where movies blazed the trail, games followed, and so we already have a trilogy of novels set in the _Halo_ universe. (The notion of a “story universe” is something that I think the science fiction genre established rather early on, but I could be wrong and would love to hear from anyone who has a better sense of the history.) It is indeed the case that _Mass Effect_ was conceived first as a game, but in an effort to help build up interest in the game — so, a form of marketing — and in an effort to provide more backstory in order to make game play more interesting, the game’s makers commissioned a novel to precede the game. Not a prequel after the fact, but a prequel before the fact. (Imagine that.)

To my mind, this opens up a *huuuuge* new and fascinating landscape for fiction. (I hate the term “storytelling” if only because it gets not only over-used but often misused. Not everything is telling a story. Sometimes you’re describing. Sometimes you’re arguing. Please, let’s not confuse everything because it’s fun to say, or safe to say, you’re telling a story.) In this landscape, or network or nexus or whatever, you can allow each medium to do what it does best. Literary texts are often the best way to provide a rich description or provide a backstory — why else does voiceover work so well in so many flashbacks? Game play is great for immersive action. The same goes for audio, video, and images. It’s all so cool. I can’t wait to beef up the home PC and take a crack at the game, but I’ll be sure to read the book first…