Mass Effect’s Place in Science Fiction – Revelation

INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES


“Reading Journals” are one of the main, and currently the only, sub-series for Gaming’s Place in Literature. These Journals are used to explore individual novels within a game’s expanded universe. The general format will be to write about the book’s writing style and quality of story before diving into a genre analysis. Exceptions to this format will likely occur.

Continue reading “Mass Effect’s Place in Science Fiction – Revelation”

Gaming’s Place In Literature

GPL Banner

It was November 2007. I was waiting with my family for a connecting flight in a very large airport and stepped into a bookstore to pass the time. Sitting on the shelf was a title I recognized from a popular game whose plot had been summed up in my mind as a standoff of galactic proportions.
Curiosity properly piqued, I made the purchase. A few hours later at 36,000 feet in the air, I cracked open Halo: The Flood, and there was no turning back.

One of the things that I deeply missed when stepping into Halo was the critical literary analyses. When I first found The Flood, it was when the pop culture was still feeling the after-effects of the Tolkien boom from the Lord of the Rings films. My family and I had stockpiles of books analyzing the films and the literary world of Middle Earth. A particular treasure of mine was a collection of essays from TheOneRing.net, which peeled back layers and layers of Tolkien’s work. I wanted to read pieces like that for Halo.

Today, not only have I found such pieces, I have been writing them as well. I created a Tumblr blog in 2014 initially as a place to explore Joseph Campbell’s monomyth as it applied to the character of Thel ‘Vadam. Starting in early 2015, I began writing for the community site Halo Archive, most of my articles examining the different novels or short stories produced by the franchise. I’ve also written for the online magazine Christ and Pop Culture.

The passion and critical exploration I used for Halo is exactly what I am bringing to this new series on Patreon. Expanded universes are now a staple of gaming franchises, tie-ins and novelizations are being written by big names in the genres. It’s time these books, and other pieces of game-related fiction, were given the same examination as other pieces of literature.

Support Gaming’s Place in Literature on Patreon!

The Hero of Alpha Halo, The Woman Called McKay – Gaming’s Place in Literature

Gaming’s Place in Literature seeks to examine game-related fiction through different lenses of literary analysis.



Master Chief is not the protagonist of Halo: The Flood. He’s certainly the protagonist of Combat Evolved, but in the novelization of the game, he hands the driver’s seat over to one Lieutenant Melissa McKay.

The base definition of a protagonist is simple: “the leading character’ of a story [X]. However with a cast of thousands, and multiple viewpoint characters, it can be difficult to pinpoint who the protagonist actually is. Quickbeam, a content writer over at TheOneRing.net, gives us another method of locating the main character in a story: the narrative.

“[A] character-driven story like LOTR is not strictly about sacrifice (or heroism, or the impermanence of beauty, or all those themes that are intrinsic). I must admit the novel is woven of many threads but the groundwork of the tale, the telling of it, spins on a single proviso: Who is transformed the most between the opening and the closing page, taking the reader through his transformation?” [X]

The telling of the tale, as Quickbeam so graciously highlighted, is also called the narrative. This is the way a story is told, the grand combination of themes, characters, plot, and writing style. Now not all narratives work off the same proviso or condition as Lord of the Rings does. While we do see character transformation in our protagonists throughout the Halo series, Halo 2 being an easy example, one of the groundwork pieces for Halo as a whole is sacrifice.

Continue Reading on Halo Archive

 

Halo: The Flood – Gaming’s Place in Literature

Gaming’s Place in Literature seeks to examine game-related fiction through different lenses of literary analysis.



The Flood is a Halo book that’s known to get some flak from the fanbase, and I can understand why. Coming off of Nylund’s close look into the way the Master Chief thinks, the more action-oriented style can feel shallow. There are parts where Dietz slows down the story to describe in detail how the Master Chief dispatched the Covenant squads, which is particularly dull when you’ve played the campaign and recognize the scenes. I’m not sure we needed the description of our first Warthog jump in the tunnel system that “is not a natural formation.” Furthermore there are some interesting continuity choices that Dietz makes, such as everyone and their Sangheili zealots knowing that John was a child soldier.

With all these issue in mind, I will defend this book vigorously. Dietz had a lot of obstacles to overcome that were different from Nylund. Frank O’Connor has explained that Dietz not only had to transfer a well-known story from one medium to another, but also had to do so in less time that Nylund had (X). Therefore, even upon rereading, I remain both impressed and delighted with what we were given.

Continue Reading on Halo Archive

 

Halo: The Fall of Reach – Gaming’s Place in Literature

The first entry in my series, Halo’s Place in Science Fiction for Halo Archive, this analysis on The Fall of Reach will also be the first entry in a more expansive series.

Gaming’s Place in Literature seeks to examine game-related fiction through different lenses of literary analysis.



Fall of Reach is very much a character-driven story. Scenes transition from one to the other when a character point is made or developed, as opposed to the completion of an event. In fact, looking at it from a whole, there is not that much of a solid plot. There is the underlying themes of what it takes to save humanity and the continual comparisons of lives spent and lives wasted. Each segment gives something else from which the next can continue and build. However, there is no overarching story line; it’s more a chronicle of events.

I do not fault Fall of Reach for this, not in the slightest. This is no detraction from the novel. One of the most widely celebrated science fiction novels, Starship Troopers, is the same. There is an end goal and a final exciting event that changes the course of the war, but the story is more about the characters and their journey. Quite frankly, I think a plot would get in the way with the sort of story that Fall of Reach is trying to tell.

A plotted story calls for resolution at the end, be it triumph or tragedy. Here, there is no resolution. Halsey’s constant questioning of morality is never answered. John’s understanding of winning/losing and spending/wasting lives is never finalized. Keyes and his crew find their morale, only to have to torn from their grasp. Cortana has barely entered the world proper and already her goals have been forced to shift drastically. It’s a strange sense of reality that was interwoven so beautifully that I didn’t even realize the lack of plot until I sat down to write this piece.

Continue reading on Halo Archive