Books are sometimes adapted into video games, but books are not usually inspired by video games. (I am not counting guidebooks, lore books, etc.) It’s a bit disappointing; video games have so much to offer. Copyright would be a nightmare, and it may be challenging to think about what to include and not include, but I think it’s a real possibility.
The video games below are some of my favorites, but also ones that I think would work well as books. (I would read them, at least.) These are also in no particular order.
Reader Alert: there will be spoilers.
Playing as Byleth, a mercenary-turned-professor, the player teaches a group of students about strategy and fighting. Players choose from three different houses, and each house has a significant future political leader. The story changes depending on which path players choose, but it is mostly the same plot until the second half of the game.
The second half happens after a 5-year time skip. A war has engulfed the country of Fódlan, and it is up to the player to help their chosen group win. It is a turn-based strategy game, the sixteenth one in the Fire Emblem series.
One of the best parts of the game is that players don’t get the full history of the events that led up to the war unless they play each route. There is so much to explore, and while the basic storyline is the same — get through the school year and win the war after the time skip — there is enough variety to keep it interesting.
This one would be a little tricky to adapt into a book since there are four possible storylines depending on the choices players make. (For one house, players choose to side with the house leader or to go against them.) This could be a series with four to eight books, depending on if the first and second half of each route were divided or not. Different characters and their dynamics and relationships would fill books with life and variety.
For a strategy guide, click here.
Link wakes up with amnesia and hears a voice calling his name. He travels around the kingdom of Hyrule, regains his memories, and defeats monsters terrorizing the kingdom. Along the way, he remembers his past: he is a hero from 100 years ago. He must defeat an evil that has terrorized the kingdom ever since, held at bay only by Princess Zelda. Link sets out to save the kingdom and the princess with only the master sword and reckless courage.
Players see flashbacks from 100 years ago. These flashbacks and other lore would make for an excellent novel. The visuals are rich and would fit well into a book adaptation, and the five races — Hylian, Zora, Rito, Gerudo, and Goron — have distinct cultures that would be fun to explore. The different storylines that work together, from saving the kingdom to regaining memories, make for a fascinating tale.
The hardest part, I think, is deciding how to do it. Part of the game’s appeal is that players can do the main quests in any order. Other Zelda games had specific orders for temples and other plot points, and they may make better books in terms of plot. But I think it could be done.
For an official companion book, click here.
This is a sequel to Breath of the Wild that takes place years later. (My guess is around 5–7 years.) Link and Zelda descend below Hyrule Castle and accidentally wake up an ancient evil. This reveals the existence of sky islands and the depths (under the surface), which were not present in the former game. Princess Zelda is sent back in time to Hyrule’s founding, and Link must gather fractured memories of her time in the past, memories that suddenly appeared after her disappearance. He must also defeat monsters to save Hyrule and Zelda — again.
This game does follow similar mechanics as the first. The gathering of memories, defeating monsters, and saving everyone. A new race, the Zonai, thought to be gods, is introduced, and their creations help push the game forward. The history of Hyrule is further examined, going back to the very beginning, and Zelda’s fractured memories could make for excellent chapter breaks between Link’s adventures and exploits. Players also get to see Hyrule being rebuilt and reformed and how familiar places have changed and not changed.
Just like with Breath of the Wild, this one would be difficult to make into a book or book series because players get to choose the order in which they complete quests. It may have to be structured the same way as above, by integrating elements of all the quests into each other to form a coherent plot. It would be tricky, but with careful and meticulous planning, the right person could pull it off.
For an official guidebook, click here.
You, the player, are transported from the modern world of Pokémon to the ancient world. You must help complete a Pokédex and foster the relationships between humans and Pokémon. There are plenty of mysteries in this world, and your arrival sets off the chain of events to uncover them. You must discover why you were brought here to this time, and what your purpose and role to play are.
The world-building is fantastic, and there’s so much more to explore here than in many other Pokémon games. I would like to see this in a first-person narrative so we can see the player character’s reaction to not having modern conveniences. It would be lighthearted and funny, and because there’s so much to explore, it could be a series.
It would be hard because part the game is chronicling all the different types of Pokémon as well as the differences between species. But I don’t think a novel would have to go into great detail about each entry. Rather, I think the main focus should be on solving the mysteries while still keeping the Pokédex in mind.
For a guidebook, click here.
This was my introduction to the Rune Factory series. It follows the main character, either Frey or Lest depending on the gender players choose, who loses their memory very early on. Through a turn of events, players act as a princess/prince and a farmer. There is a lot that players can do; they can talk to the townspeople, craft armor and weapons, farm, explore dungeons, and more. But the storyline has you helping Ventuswill, the town’s dragon protector, as well as saving mysterious people who also have amnesia.
There are three separate arcs, each with its own purpose, that would be a good trilogy. There isn’t as much history or lore as in the other games, but there is still enough to expand the world. I think this would be another good first-person book so we can see Frey/Lest’s frustration and confusion regarding amnesia and everything surrounding them.
The hardest part would be balancing the plot with side elements such as crafting. These play an important part in the game, but the execution may be challenging. Incorporating them as needed (such as crafting better armor and weapons as the dungeons and monsters get increasingly difficult) could work.
I couldn’t find an official companion book or guidebook in English. Here is one in Japanese.
It may be difficult to take something as visual as video games and put it in something as descriptive as a book, but it wouldn’t be impossible. If books can be adapted into video games (like The Witcher, Dune: Awakening, Conan Exiles, etc.), then why not the reverse? I think that would be more interesting.
For more on video games, click here.