Novels Films Games.

Novels, films, games.
Novels, films, games – The novella, The Level, has been turned into a screenplay and is awaiting being turned into a film

Novels, films, games: How could reading compete with the visceral pleasures of big-budget, special-effects-driven films, or the massive growth of computer games that have so captivated our youth?

Yet, the truth is that far from novels, films, games and the like existing in a state of war, creatively, they exist in a state of symbiosis, feeding off each other.

I think this is set to continue in the foreseeable future. 

Consider the various skills of the novelist: Philosopher, visionary, psychologist, researcher, casting agent, actor, director, cinematographer, set builder, costume designer, scriptwriter, editor, sound recordist. Indeed, the novelist is the prime creator of the story world—albeit in the virtual sense. 

At a time when big films require even bigger budgets, testing the potential success of a film by measuring the success of the novel upon which it is based is a relatively inexpensive way of taking out some insurance against failure—although, clearly, no guarantee against it, as the movie John Carter, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Princess of Mars, clearly demonstrates.

The point remains, however, that if a novel has done well in the market place, the chances are that a well-made film might do the same. The film maker might then allow the world of the novel to inform the world of the film, although, clearly, adapting a screenplay from a novel is an art form in its own right—often, to the extent that little of that world, other than the bones of the story, remains the same. Even so, the novel does at least, act as a starting point for the film project.

Novels, films, games—the latter both in video and board formats, predate Amazon’s Kindle revolution and the resurgence of reading it inspired, but there were some who predicted the death of the novel as a viable form of entertainment.

In terms of benefit to the novel, people who have seen the film and enjoyed it might now read the novel on which the film is based. Sales of the Game of Thrones series sky-rocketed after the television series hit the screens. 

Book-to-film/TV adaptations, such as The Level, often go hand in hand with conversations about the relative worth of one rendition over the other. “The book was so much better than the film,” or vice versa—good publicity for all concerned, which helps to boost sales of the appropriate medium. 

As an aside, I might mention that in my classes on screenwriting, I sometimes encourage my students to write their screenplays as novellas, or short stories, first. This encourages them to explore their characters’ actions through the inner voice—something the novel, novella and short story do well. This shifts focus to character motives and goals and results in character action that is more authentic and believable, making for better screenplays.


Novels, films, games and short story anthologies often function in a state of symbiosis, testing and popularising the story through different media. 

2 thoughts on “Novels Films Games.

  1. Gerhard Pistorius

    Take Spielberg’s latest eye candy blockbuster – Ready Player One. It’s a film based on a best selling novel that references various video games and other forms of media. Many critics and film historians have voiced their concern that Hollywood’s growing trend of incorporating popular culture ( comic books & video games) and focus on nostalgia is leading to the death of Cinema. The power is no longer in the hands of the film makers to create new innovative ways to tell stories we know. Rather the director has to follow a guidebook drawn up by a carefully selected focus group. One thing that has happened in Hollywood following 9/11 is the sensation known as the mega blockbuster. These are franchise films that were never meant to be once of films but instead meant to tell a single narrative over multiple films. Harry Potter’s wizarding world , Middle Earth and the Marvel cinematic universe – these are examples of mega blockbusters . Hollywood is a very different place from where it was thirty years ago. It is perhaps no coincidence that for the first time in the history of the Academy awards most films that walk away with the gold statues are the films that come from outside North America.

    1. Stavros Halvatzis Post author

      Unfortunately, true Gerhard. The spark of creativity has fallen prey to the pursuit of the eternal blockbuster.


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