My favorite game of all time is Tales of the Abyss by Namco Bandai. Tales games tend to be very character oriented. Each character has his/her own story arc and even quests pertaining to more story information–and these are quests you often want to do because the characters are already so compelling that you continuously want to know more about them. What I love most about Tales of the Abyss is that not only is there focus on the protagonists but even the antagonists have their own stories that make you really feel for them. This is common in Tales games, but is especially emphasized in Tales of the Abyss.
Tales games are the reason I began focusing on developing background stories for my antagonists. Tales of the Abyss, in fact, inspired me to do two short stories of two antagonists in When Stars Die. I hope to include those with the novel, if possible. The antagonists in the sequel have their own arcs as well, and they won’t be separate short stories but actually included within the novel. In books that deal heavily in gray areas, especially if it’s fantasy or paranormal or a similar genre, I appreciate it when my antagonists are as developed as my protagonists because it certainly solidifies that gray area, that idea that there is no real evil in this book, that it’s all subjective.
Video games for me have been a legitimate source of inspiration for my stories, especially story-centric video games. The first Baten Kaitos (also by Namco Bandai) inspired a character concept in When Stars Die’s sequel. Zelda: Twilight Princess inspired a character in the sequel to WSD–unfortunately said character no longer exists, but he was compelling in his own right. Chrono Cross inspired an old novel of mine in the past, and I one day want to re-visit the concept when I have the time.
Video games have also helped to improve my storytelling skills. Video games once used to be about gameplay, but now gamers are demanding more and looking for stories as well. I think this is a great thing because it’s one more medium we writers can use to hone our skills. I analyze the stories in the video games I play. I analyze how the plot develops, how characters develop, how each part of the story is told. I am currently analyzing Ni No Kuni, and I love the concept so far. Shadar, an evil wizard, I presume, has the ability to break people’s hearts, and by doing so, these people often become depressed. So it’s up to little Oliver to restore people’s hearts by drawing from the essences of others who have plenty of heart to give. I find that concept fascinating because I can see it working in a novel, especially if Diana Wynne Jones were alive today to write such a novel. Granted, the video game elements would obviously have to be removed, but the story is very effective in its own right. I can see why the game is so popular.
If you’re a writer and a gamer, I say use that to your advantage. Really analyze the stories of the games you play. Allow yourself to draw inspiration from the games you play. And if you’re not a gamer, you should give gaming a shot. Not only is it fun, but it’s another story that you can collect in your life. Tales of the Abyss was a game I never wanted to end. The story for me was unbelievable.