While searching for new ideas on bookstores and the digital world, I came across this article entitled, “Appetite for Risk: At the Intersection of Video Games and Literature.” In the article, author Maxwell Neely-Cohen addresses the idea that the world of video games and the world of literature are more similar than people would think, and that the two industries can benefit from shared ideas and influences. The author states that:

We should be making novels into video games, video games into novels. Publishers should collaborate with indie game developers, trading them a platform and content in exchange for labor and a new form of adaptation. Literary magazines and libraries should sponsor gamejams. The games industry should fully embrace the thousands of works of classic literature open to them in the public domain.”

As someone who enjoys both video games and books, the concept of these seemingly different forms of entertainment intermingling and helping each other is appealing. While I play all different types of video games, I am always more engaged in games that have strong, unique plots and well-written dialogue. While the game mechanics are important, I would rather play a game with sub-par controls and graphics as long as the plot is compelling. In terms of how literature could benefit from a partnership with the gaming industry, I think the author creates a strong argument. He says:

“The book publishing industry needs to carve out a more interesting, necessary space for itself in the digital world. All too frequently “technology” is considered one big amorphous blob, or worse, treated with indifference. Barely enhanced e-books, predictably executed apps, and promotional Twitter accounts for dead or Luddite authors seem to represent the extent of most publishers’ innovative efforts. Even in terms of pure content, contemporary fiction too often fails to fully evoke 21st-century life and contend with its burgeoning issues. We writers disproportionately focus on the past, or worse, replicate the form and structures of centuries gone without appetite for the risk, resistance, and failure innovation entails.”

So how does this article relate to bookstores in the digital age? Though the author is focused solely on the relationship between games and books, I think his suggestion that the book publishing industry doesn’t know how to handle the digital age is relevant to the struggle facing independent bookstores. The author suggests at the end of the article that applying gaming concepts and technology to literature could create a new, innovative form of art, however my question is if bookstores can also harness this innovation. Is there a way for independent bookstores to incorporate forms and functions of video games into their marketing and sales tactics? How could these tactics encourage consumers to purchase books? I’m not sure I have answers to these questions, but one thought would be perhaps making use of virtual reality gaming technology and enticing customers to come to in-store events where you could “live” in your favorite book. I would love to hear if anyone else has thoughts on this! 

For text of full article click here.