Portals - Chapter One - Untitled

Top 6 Video Games for Writers

Top video games for writers from worldbuilding to character creation.

Yes, you read the title correctly. Not many people connect writing with video games unless they’re thinking of distractions. However, as someone who both loves writing stories and someone who loves video games, I’ve found some games can help one extremely important part of writing: Worldbuilding. So figure I’d cover my top video games for writers to help with worldbuilding from character creation to literally building the world.

Plus with the upcoming Steam summer sale, you guys can also get copies for cheaper than usual. For those of you who don’t know, Steam is an online game superstore, where you can find all sorts of games for your Windows PC or your Mac. It’s my top place to search for games to play. Now, let’s get to my top 6 video games for writers.

(None of this content is sponsored, even for the Steam sale. All opinions are my own.)

6 – The Sims

One of the most well known games out there is The Sims. It’s got everything you’d want to live out a virtual reality: a customizable character and control over where they go, get a job, who they date; all kinds of neighbors; and even the ability to build homes, parks, and recreational buildings. Basically, it’s a one stop shop for literally building a character in the modern world. It’s basic at best when it comes to character traits, but it’s a good starting point. Add family building, learning skills, and the job, and you’ve got a surprisingly balanced character.

5 – Civilization series

While not among the most popular games, turn-based games like the Civilization games give you a good chance to build, well, civilizations. Again, it’s basic at best, but it allows you to plot out your reign of the ultimate empire. If you’re working on a world with a ruling empire, or have a character who is working towards that goal, you can learn different techniques to use in your story. Did they use superior war tactics? Trickery? It’s your choice. Just watch out for Gandhi.

4 – Fallen Enchantress

Want a situation like in the Civilization games, but with an added element of fantasy? Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes combines turn-based empire games with a little added magic and fantasy creatures. Other games also exist, but I prefer Fallen Enchantress for the range of characters, the range of magic, and the range of how many ways you can win in a given game. Play as the bad guy conquering everything in their path or as the good guy just trying to keep the peace. Either way, it’s a great option for fantasy worldbuilding.

3 – Terraria

Now for some literal worldbuilding games. Terraria is a side-scrolling, mining game. Think like a 2D Minecraft with no creative mode. You go questing, mine for materials, kill zombies and slimes, and defeat bosses. While there isn’t an alternate universe, there are plenty of places to explore, from underground temples to battling huge monsters. You can also shape the land through digging on the surface, build homes for you and the NPC shopkeepers, and more! Definitely one of my favorite over all games.

2 – City Skylines

Want to create a setting, and not worry about the characters for now? City Skylines lets you literally build a modern city from the ground up! It’s similar to Sims City, with more features and control over the environment. If you’re working on a modern fiction piece in an urban setting, City Skylines will let you build that city from the ground up! You can also simulate disasters if you’re incorporating those in your story.

1 – Minecraft

It’s very hard to live in the modern world and not played or at the very least heard of Minecraft. The crafting ability, mining features, and monsters have made Minecraft staple of gaming around the world. And it’s also fantastic for literal worldbuilding. There almost isn’t a limit to what you can create from basic villages to homes to castles to cities. It’s also one of my favorite video games to play, and I definitely recommend it.

And those are my top 6 video game for writers. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other games out there to choose from. In fact, almost any story-driven game can also be used as a writing tool, looking at where character development fell flat, where the setting shines bright, and all sorts of other story specific details.

Video games are often tossed aside as learning material because they’re virtual, new, and to some controversial. As a casual gamer myself, I’ve seen firsthand how a game can jump start creativity. So as a gamer and a writer, I say we shouldn’t discredit the potential games have to fuel creativity and the writing process.

What about you? Are you a fellow gamer-writer, and if so what are your video games for writers picks? Or do you think games shouldn’t influence writers? Let me know in the comments, and until next time!

Portals - Chapter One - Untitled

The Joy of Fandom

The Joy of Fandom: Pop culture, community, and cosplay. Photo credit: JFP Photography.

A few¬†weekends ago I was able to do something incredible: I took three days to go dress up as fictional characters and have fun with other people doing the same thing. If I were to show you pictures from the event, you may have one of three reactions. Shocked and weirded out by the strange costumes and colors, curious but also kind of put off by the concept, and so excited to tell me about the conventions you’ve gone to and plan to go to. Welcome to the world of fandom: the community aspect of pop culture from around the world.

Some people are legitimately shocked and somewhat scared by the fact that others and myself enjoy dressing up like this. They see it as immature, irrational, or just plain weird. Why would you want to dress up as a fictional character? Someone who has no direct impact on the world. Most of these people usually aren’t among the fandom crowd. They see sensibility in reality and everyday life, which there’s nothing wrong with doing that. However, I’d like to address this viewpoint. Yes, it can seem strange and like we’re trapped in our own little reality. But the truth is, that isn’t what’s going on. Instead, I’d like to show the other side of cosplay and conventions.

Yes, dressing up as fictional characters seems like a weird way to spend a weekend. Yet thousands participate in each fandom convention each year. That amounts to millions of people, not just in the U.S. but also around the world. So obviously, dressing up as fictional characters for a weekend isn’t unpopular. In fact, in the five years I’ve been going to the convention in Pittsburgh, attendance has jumped from a little over 5,000 to almost 9,000. And if that’s the jump for a smaller convention, then others have jumped just as much or more. It’s gotten more popular for comic cons, especially with the recent superhero movies and the revival of Star Wars. And with this popularity comes more publicity and more people dressing up as fictional characters for a weekend.

It isn’t just young people who attend conventions either. People young and old, men and women, from all walks of life participate in cosplay each year, sometimes going to multiple conventions a year. And yes, most of them happen to be young adults, but a good many of them are also between 30-50 years old. That’s what makes cosplay, and fandoms, so fascinating. No matter where they’re¬†from, what they believe, or how old they are, everyone manages to get along and laugh and have fun. It’s something unique to the fandom community that makes it special. Not many other communities outside of the fandom community can say that they bring people together like that.

And that’s the beautiful thing. Fandom is such a unique phenomena, spanning so many different sub-communities and so many people. Most sub-communities appreciate each other despite age or class or gender. It’s the essence of what can possibly be called a true community. Yes, there can be fighting between and even within sub-communities. But no community is perfect either. And I think that’s what makes fandom so special. It’s a tight-knit community spanning countries, ages, genders, and worldviews. Sure we fight, but there still isn’t anything that can truly make the worldwide fandom community fall apart. And I think that’s the real joy of fandom.