What would a video game inspired by Don Quixote, the 17th century masterpiece novel written by Miguel de Cervantes, look like? What would a “literary video game,” if such a thing exists or could exist, look like? Could literature and video games live together in a healthy relationship, or would video games cheapen the beauty of Cervantes’s exquisite art?
Well, I can’t answer all of these questions, but I think I have the opening scene for you.
A brave hero and his loyal lackey were wandering through a forest one day. The mesh of tree branches above them almost blocked out the sun. Yet, the sun shone through tiny gaps among the branches that acted like greedy arms reaching for gold.
A nearby cave, lit up by sunlight, caught our hero’s attention. Our hero remained silent and pointed his lance at the cave.
“What could go wrong this time?” the loyal lackey thought. He rolled his eyes halfway, but he grunted, regained his concrete faith in the fearless hero and tagged along.
They did not get very far.
Suddenly, the ground shook beneath them, and the world felt like it had turned upside down.
His loyal lackey trembled and yelled, “Somebody help us!” Before they knew it, the two heroes were flying off their animals and rolling down a hill. The birds, tree stumps and rocks that they hit dented their armor until it fell clean off of them. But they were lucky. A pile of soft manure broke their fall.
They staggered up to their feet minutes later and washed up in a nearby pond.
Our hero shook his head to make sure his head was still on straight. Then he flicked dirt off his armor’s shoulder with his finger tips. A haughty laugh erupted from him.
That is, until he noticed his lance was not the same. It looked blocky. He also noticed that his loyal lackey looked different: rough edges covered his body.
“Your grace! What has happened to us?”
Our hero stood still and dumbfounded. He assumed it was another magical mirage that plagued his cloudy mind. In fact, our two heroes stumbled into an eight bit video game!
No book about chivalry could have prepared him for this. He would need to level up, as well as upgrade his armor and weapons.
Just then a towering, red dragon swooped down from the heavens. It spewed fire all over the countryside and turned wheat into black ash. Then it centered its sites on our heroes.
The hero grabbed his lance and mounted his horse. This was going to be an epic boss fight.
Literary Video Games?
So I think Don Quixote would make a great video game. At the very least, it could inspire a great video game. I mean “inspire” loosely; in the same way that movies are “based on a true story.” It might be impossible to turn the entire book into a game, but it might be possible to capture some of the story and expose other people to a masterpiece.
Here are seven reasons why I think Don Quixote would make a good video game:
1. A Sense of Humour
Don Quixote has humour in spades. The knight and his squire go on tons of silly misadventures, and video game writers could mine much from Don Quixote. You might agree that most video games in the action genre could use some humour. Even Some humorous games could learn a thing or two from the masterful writing in Don Quixote.
And many of us want to see video games improves their stories, character development and overall writing.
2. Double your Fun
Don Quixote could be an excellent two player video game. Someone could play as the knight and the other could play as his partner, Sancho. Perhaps they would find greater success than in the novel, though.
3. Location, Location, Location!
You could make Don Quixote into a fantasy role-playing game. The book’s medieval setting could work well in a video game. After all many games have this setting, or at least have fantasy version of the medieval period.
Or developers could surprise us and go with a modern setting. I haven’t got a clue.
4. A Good Epic Fail?
You always save the princess or the world in video games.
Well, Don Quixote fails a lot of his quests in hilarious ways. What if a game made it more difficult to save the princess and finish quests?
You’d certainly learn a lot from your mistakes, wouldn’t you? You might appreciate that game because of its challenge. Or you might want to throw your controller at the wall in rage.
I think I’m on to something here. But it’s up the professional game designers to make it work.
5. The Odd One
How do you make a unique video game? You put Don Quixote in it. Then you make sure the game is fun to play.
Don Quixote often sees things that no one else sees. In the novel, side stories also interrupt the main tale. How would all of this look and play like in a video game? There’s a lot of creative potential here.
7. Double Your Fun with Double Fine
Double Fine could develop it since they excel at making creative and quirky games. In case you don’t know them, they developed video games like Psychonauts.
So there you have it. I think Don Quixote would at least inspire a unique video game. Even if you disagree, I encourage you to read the novel; it is a classic that is well worth your time.
Have you read Don Quixote? (As an aside, you really should). Do you think Don Quixote could be the basis for a good video game or loosely inspire a good video game?