Sometimes we need to get away from our gaming screens. Maybe it's been a frustrating night of online multiplayer. Maybe you're trying to savor the last hours of an epic game, and don't want to rush through the finale. Then again, maybe you just need a break for your hands and eyes. All of those sound like good-enough reasons to pick up a book. From expansive works that flesh out the game worlds you've visited, to in-depth analyses of the characters and mechanics of your favorite role-playing escapades, these are the books that gamers shouldn't go without.
Credit: Del Rey
The Witcher novels are fantasy at their finest, coupling rich political intrigue with tremendous character development. With the first installment released in 1992, Andrzej Sapkowski's Witcher novels were a huge hit in Poland, but didn't make much of an impact in the English-speaking world until 2007. That just so happened to coincide with the release of CD Projekt Red’s first Witcher video game. Starting with The Last Wish, Sapkowski's eight-book series introduces the sardonic and powerful Geralt of Rivia alongside beloved characters like Dandelion, Yennefer, Triss and Ciri. You might recognize some in-game quests from various plotlines running through all the novels, but you'll definitely spot Geralt's famously dry wit in almost every chapter.
Extra Lives can be a bit arcane, but it's a fascinating analysis of the social impact of games in the era of Grand Theft Auto IV and Braid. In asserting the relevance of video games as a medium on par with films and television, author Tom Bissell delves deep into his own personal addictions, be they games or drugs, to find the answer. There's a lot of ambiguity in Bissell's critical thoughts, but they're still hard to stop reading. This memoir-ish book will have you coming up with plenty of questions of your own, which is never a bad thing, even if you don't get many answers from Bissell.
Credit: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Post-apocalyptic fiction is certainly well-tread ground, but when done well, it can be one of the most enthralling genres on the bookshelf. Dmitry Glukhovsky introduced his own Eastern Bloc take on a world after nuclear devastation in Metro 2033, which 4A Games later adapted into the cult favorite Metro games. Set in Moscow, the book provides a frightening glimpse into the life of the Soviet people when forced underground, showcasing a part of the world so often ignored in Western European fiction. Metro 2033 is at times frightening and heartbreaking, but it's a deep look at what happens when everything else in the world has gone wrong.
Credit: CreateSpace Publishing
Unlike film, television and music, we hardly ever get a glimpse behind the curtain of games that make it to the shelves, let alone those that fail to ever see the light of day. With Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, game journalist Jason Schreier takes readers behind the veil of secrecy to learn how titles like The Witcher 3, Uncharted 4 and even Star Wars 1313 were made (or not). Anyone with even a passing interest in game development will be immediately hooked by the inner workings of some of the biggest studios in world. Gamers who have spent hours in these worlds will be amazed that any of it was possible, given the chaotic situations at the heart of each development process.
Credit: HarperCollins Publishers
Tom Clancy's name has been found atop a number of video games over the years, but not all of those games were worthy of the novels that inspired them from the political-thriller master himself. (Technically, Rainbow Six was a book before it was a game, but only just barely.) Following the elite anti-terror unit known as "Rainbow," the book portrays the black-ops team on its first set of missions, culminating in a hunt to stop eco-terrorists. While the villains may be a little '90s, the book is just as taut and meticulous as any of Clancy's more famous works, like The Hunt for Red October or Patriot Games. It's a throwback read, to be sure, but features a master author doing great work.
Credit: Penguin Publishing Group
Perhaps no book better chronicles the rise of video games from niche hobby to multibillion- dollar industry than All Your Base Are Belong to Us. Recalling tales of gaming's biggest names throughout the years, including Atari's Nolan Bushnell and Rockstar's Dan and Sam Houser, Harold Goldberg' race through the ages is a great read for gamers of all types. It's not quite a historical breakdown, but more a narrative woven through the developments of the industry over the years. Seeing the highs and lows of the business through the eyes of the people who were there almost every step of the way provides some great insight into how games got to where they are today.
There are a number of Mass Effect novels and comics available to read, but the first three books (Revelation, Ascension and Retribution) written by lead game writer Drew Karpyshyn are the best of the bunch. The three books take place around the time of the original game trilogy, offering looks at the universe of Mass Effect before and between the adventures of Commander Shepard. Although the books are great at adding more depth to the universe of Mass Effect, they are also solid sci-fi novels in their own right. Add in the fact that the characters involved are all tertiary to the games, and you have a set of novels anyone can read without feeling too lost.
Credit: Random House Publishing Group