Non-gamers tend to think of computer and video games as involving either shooting various targets, chasing some sort of prize, or some kind of dungeons and dragons role-playing. And Roger Ebert, perhaps with this idea in mind, has said that video games can never be art. But at least one game developer has taken a step closer to making games that resemble a more familiar art form, a book. And not just any book, a certified classic.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s jazz age tragic love story is now The Great Gatsby: The Game.
Uri Friedman of The Atlantic reports that you can guide the book’s narrator, Nick Carroway, though the lovelorn gangster’s mansion, contending “with butlers, flappers, and gangsters at one of Gatsby’s bacchanalian parties (if you die, you’re told, “Game Over, Old Sport”).” While the game’s site cheekily claims it comes from a vintage 2D Nintendo game cartridge purchased at a yard sale, Friedman did some sleuthing and discovered it is the creation of Gatsby fan and programmer Charles Hoey and Pete Smith of Nerve.com. I was relieved that the game does not pursue some of the book’s seedier episodes, but it does make me wonder about other possibilities for turning novels into games, especially with the potential for alternate endings (a la Choose Your Own Adventure). Not So Gone With the Wind After All? Pride But No Prejudice? Anna Karenina’s Escape From the Train?