3 Ideas for a Book-Game — What!?

Book-Game
Image from Flickr by Cory Doctorow

I like reading books — and playing video games too. I was thinking… What if we combine books and games into a single medium? Obviously, the book will be in digital form (ebook). And, what would it be called? A “Game-book”, maybe a “Book-game” as the title suggests, or how about “Interactive Literary Entertainment”.

Regardless of what this new media will be called — I have conceived some ideas on how it may be implemented. I’ve got to tell you that I’ve written this post without doing research on the net first — so the ideas I may come-up with — might be already implemented (or not).

Here are my ideas (in random order):

  1. Finish a level to unlock a page (or chapter) of the book.

    A game level is completed once a player accomplishes some goal — like reaching a finish line, collecting necessary items, or defeating an opponent, etc.

    What if the book is hidden in the game, and can only be unlocked — piece by piece by completing each level. Of course, once the game is completed — the whole book is already readable.

    A disadvantage of this idea is that the reader’s (or gamer’s) reading is slowed down because she has to complete another level in able to read the next page (or chapter). Though, a workaround is to complete the whole game first before reading the hidden book.

  2. A quest to find the missing pieces of the book.

    A game genre that would really fit with this idea are role playing games (RPG). RPGs are game where you control a hero, who may have companions or none, then you travel across lands, defeating enemies and collecting items (e.g., gold, weapons, armor, etc.) along the way.

    Aside from commons items, the hero will be collecting the pieces of the book as well. Optionally, the contents of the collected pieces may provide hints and clues to get further in the game.

    I actually recall playing RPGs in the past where you collect missing pieces of a manuscript, but sometimes they are just unreadable items, and are far from a complete book in length — spanning less than ten pages or so.

  3. Books inside a virtual world.

    In this type of game, the books are available in their complete form, unlike above. There are freely available books, and there are books that are either well hidden or can be obtained for a price, using money (or gold) obtained in the game to buy it.

    This can be implemented in an online world with multiple players — and some of those players can be authors. Authors that can make money by selling their books in that world. Whether the game money can be translated into real world money depends on the game system.

There you have it. While I was writing this post, I recall what some people say — that the reason kids these days don’t read books anymore is because they play too much video games. If that’s the case, then why not combine the two?

But let’s be realistic for a moment. If a person is only there to play the game, even if he unlocks the book (or assembles them), hey may not even bother reading it — on to next game.

You can’t really force people to do what they don’t want to do in the first place — unless you use force, which is not right and can induce resentment. How about rewards? Rewards can work — but often becomes ineffective after a while.

What can be done then? We could reinvent the game (or book) — the ideas above are my contribution to that cause. How about you? What are your ideas for combining the two (book and game)?