Readers' Corner

Reimagining classic literature through video games

Ingenuity in video gaming is part of what makes the sector so enthralling and continues to generate so much hysteria and profit on an annual basis. Given that there’s so much competitiveness in console gaming, designers are constantly trying to come up with ways to carve out a niche for themselves and appeal to millions of potential new customers around the world. Some of the most popular video games over the last decade have been loosely based on classic literature, while some have a more direct influence.

If we examine the bigger picture and look at gaming as a whole, literature and other arts have played a significant role in the development of casino gaming – most notably slots. Other casino games follow a more rigid set of rules, so poker, blackjack and roulette don’t have much room to stray too far from their original format.

However, slot machine gamers and designers are afforded the luxury of exploring hundreds of potential new themes, and classic literature and arts are one of many themes that have had plenty of research from designers and those within the slot machine industry. Ancient Flames Alight and other Greek mythology-themed games are one element of classic literature that has generated many games. Inspiring slot machines and casino gamers with the theme and using characters and stories that immortalized the Greek Gods highlights just how much potential gaming companies have when it comes to exploring classic literature.

Successful implementation of literature in video games

Shifting the focus back to video games, hundreds of titles have used the influence of classic literature. Some companies have managed to bridge this gap more successfully than others. Assassin’s Creed is one of the most successful gaming franchises of the last 15 years, shifting over 200 million units collectively across its 13 games. However, the game was heavily inspired by classic literature, in the form of a novel called Alamut, written by a Slovenian author over 80 years ago.

Fallout is another game that has shifted millions of copies and has a loyal fanbase across multiple continents. Set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, the fifth chapter of this highly successful franchise is due to hit our shelves at some point within the next year, with development well under way. Using the latest video streaming technology, Fallout has been able to market itself effectively. It continues to find a substantial audience, and its influence is deep-rooted in classic literature such as A Canticle for Leibowitz and A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World.

Other fictional tales that deserve a special mention for pioneering their genre include Ancient Tales, which influenced Horizon New Dawn. World-renowned authors such as Stephen King are synonymous with crossover art pieces, with many of his books turned into iconic films and TV series. However, games like Silent Hill, Earthbound and Half-Life are steeped in King references and influences, and given that he has sold over 300 million books, we’d suspect his timeless and iconic works have inspired other games too.

Crossover influences

Due to the popularity of video games, some of the biggest gaming hits have also influenced books and TV. The Last of Us, starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, is a post-apocalyptic survival TV show based on the immense success of the video game of the same title. However, the creator also stated that the game took substantial influence from Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road, considered one of the most critically acclaimed pieces of 21st-century dystopian fiction. As video gaming becomes one of the biggest subsidiary markets in entertainment, this trend could see a lot more activity in the coming years.


Game designers don’t rest on their laurels, and like many top film and TV producers, there is considerable influence that stems from classic literature. While some books might take it indirectly, others do not shy away from the inspiration, and channeling this inspiration through the modern-day medium of video gaming helps keep the stories alive and introduces them in a modern fashion to a fresh audience.

Fewer people read than play video games, so using the influence and highlighting the foundation of their design could inspire people to go out and check out the original works that have proved to be so prominent in creating some of these landmark gaming titles. The success of The Last of Us implies that there’s still phenomenal potential for literature and console gaming crossovers, so this will undoubtedly continue to play a role in video gaming over the next couple of decades.

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