Fictionalising real life is turning actual events from the past into a fictional story. While these stories often use elements of real-life events, aspects are changed to create a unique story. Both video games and books do this through their respective mediums, and it’s a fascinating topic as it allows for creating some truly iconic stories.
Exploring Similar Themes and Ideas in Games and Books
Whilst they are vastly different mediums, at the end of the day, both video games and books are conduits for telling stories. Therefore, seeing them both explore similar themes in their content is not a surprise.
For example, The Last Of Us is a popular video game which explores themes of identity, morality, love, and growth, all within the context of a zombie survival video game. The medium of video games allows writers to explore similar themes as, say, Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, which also touches on identity, love, morality, and the growth of its main character.
While many people would see the term “zombie survival video game” and assume there’s little narrative value, the game does a great job of exploring the themes above in the context of its medium. It allows you to play as the characters, experience their decisions first-hand, and inhabit the world they live in.
The Role of Fictionalising Real-Life in Games
For decades, fictionalising real life has been a key component of video game stories. One of the most popular video game genres is FPS games or first-person shooters, and a popular narrative for these games is alternate WW2 history.
So many writers use this period of history as the setting for their game, as it’s one of the most emotionally evocative and allows them to tell a coherent story without needing to set up the backstory – you already know the backstory, you just need to know what’s different. Games like the Wolfenstein series or the Medal of Honour series create an immersive experience that allows you to get a taste of what it was like to serve on the front lines of war.
Another popular approach in fictionalizing history is the utilization of Ancient Egypt as a setting. Instead of strictly recreating the precise experience of modern history, games like Assassin’s Creed Origins provide players with the opportunity to immerse themselves in a time period that lacks extensive historical documentation. By incorporating iconic elements like pyramids, sphinxes, and tombs, these games establish a sense of authenticity while also introducing new and exciting features to enhance gameplay. Similarly, games such as the book of dead slot employ graphics depicting Ancient Egyptian artifacts to submerge players into the world of that era. Apart from Ancient Egypt, other well-liked periods for fictionalizing history include the Victorian Era, Medieval times, and the vibrant 1920s.
The Role of Fictionalising Real-Life in Books
However, fictionalising history is not a modern occurrence, as it’s been taking place in books for centuries. While the medium is different, the point of fictionalising history is the same. It allows the author to implement their story in a “ready-made” world we’re familiar with as readers.
Plus, it allows them to use what we know of real-life events, people, and cultures to create a rich and diverse world that can be viewed from many different perspectives. Fictionalisation allows you to tell a real-world story from the point of view of one of the main protagonists or antagonists, providing a unique insight into events we are already familiar with.
This makes it easier to explore the themes of your story and character without having to worry about things like the plot, as we all know what will happen in the end.
Differences Between Fictionalising Real-Life in Games and Books
While both video games and books try to tell a story, the medium they use is very different. Video games are an interactive medium, as nothing would happen without the player controlling the character. This level of interactivity allows the player to become more immersed in the story as they drive the characters’ actions and make their decisions. The immersion works well with fictionalised stories, as we can fill in the blanks with our knowledge of real-life locations, people, and events.
Conversely, books are not interactive, and you are experiencing the story from whichever viewpoint the author decides. This could be from the point of view of the main character, from the point of view of multiple characters, or from an omniscient point of view. The exact viewpoint will change your level of immersion in the story. Still, as the author can add context to the events of the book, it’s a great way to explore real-life themes and ideas.
The fictionalisation of real life to tell a story has likely existed as long as the concept of stories themselves. It’s a great way to tell a unique story that we’re all familiar with, and it’s been responsible for creating some of the most iconic tales. As video games become more accepted as a narrative medium, we can expect many more epic stories to be told through games.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your views.