March 27, 2012 at 6:00 PM ET
Video games that that are part of some blockbuster movie or hit television show’s marketing blitz are common. But games simply based upon books are significantly rarer. One of the few examples is from best-selling author Andrea J. Buchanan, whose latest work, "GIFT," about a highs school girl with special powers, is an e-book that has an accompanying "Minecraft" mod.
Instead of creating a stand-alone game, the author commissioned a noted modder in the "Minecraft" scene to re-create the world contained within her new novel. Aside from being able to check out locales detailed in "GIFT," there are goals and obstacles that are specific to the source material, in addition to the usual set of rules that normally governs the game underneath it all.
The map and accompanying character skins can be downloaded here, where you can also find the rules and suggestions if you want to create a video of yourself while interacting within the "Minecraft" version of "GIFT." Fans filming themselves while enjoying adventures in "Minecraft" is the norm, so Buchanan wants to make sure that no one spoils any of the plot points for others.
One of the main reasons why only the biggest of Hollywood productions have video game tie-ins is the inherent cost of game production; major studios can afford to fit them into their budgets. Smaller, independent artists do not have such a luxury if they want to reconfigure their work into an interactive medium.
It is conceivable that iOS titles or something along a similar scale could fit that bill, since those kinds of games are comparably cheaper to produce, but almost no prior examples come to mind. Perhaps the very notion of a video game tie-in is exclusive to tinsel town.
Meanwhile, "Minecraft" as a tool for such media cross-pollination makes total sense, given its open source nature and very low cost. Time will tell if other authors, along with independent filmmakers and other artists, will follow Buchanan’s lead.
Matthew Hawkins is an NYC-based game journalist who has also written for EGM, GameSetWatch, Gamasutra, Giant Robot and numerous others. He also self-publishes his own game culture zine, is part of Attract Mode, and co-hosts The Fangamer Podcast. You can keep tabs on him via Twitter, or his personal home-base, FORT90.com.