Friday, August 3, 2012

Gaming and Writing - Together at Last!

When you're a writer, sometimes you'll get stuck. There are any number of ways to get unstuck - go for a walk, get a coffee, scream at your computer until the neighbours complain. When I was first starting out, I used to consult a lot of writing prompt books and websites. You know the ones - where you're told to think about your character's first job/love/car and write about it. But as I began to hone my skills and specialise in the fantasy and horror genres, I realised that a lot of these prompt books aren't so great for speculative writers - after all, thinking about a character's favourite meal isn't that inspiring (unless your character happens to be a cannibal).

"You don't need to bring anything to dinner except yourself, Richard."

That's why today when I was scraping the bottom of the creativity barrel, I went and played Skyrim for an hour. For those of you who have been living under a rock (or under the bed, where the monsters play), Skyrim is a fantasy video game with a huge open world to explore. A few weeks ago I decided the game was getting too easy, so I decided to stop fast-travelling everywhere (i.e. clicking to get to a far away location) and began riding to my destinations on horseback.

This is my horse, Sprinkles. He enjoys long rides on the beach and killing you.

I quickly discovered that the journey is a lot more interesting that the destination itself, because along the way I always find things within the world that spark my imagination. In today's playthrough, I came across:
  • A skeleton collapsed against a flag on a lonely island 
  • Gigantic icebergs in the middle of the sea 
  • A cupboard in a sunken ship 
  • A hag living in the ruins of a collapsed tower 
  • A rabbit that could run across water (a glitch, but still cool) 
After my hour was up I found I was feeling inspired again, all from these disconnected images that came together in my mind to spark whole stories. So the next time you're stuck for ideas, maybe try playing a video game for a different approach to the usual story prompts. And if anybody gives you grief, just tell them you're writing!

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