A book that's also a game?
November 21, 2014 6:53 AM   Subscribe

There's several people I know that are big into gaming, (The Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, etc). They also like to read. In the interest of getting them something gaming related, is there a book or several books that function both as a piece of fiction and as a game?Not sure this sort of thing even exists, but figured if it does that would be pretty awesome as Christmas gift. Anyone?
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Grab Bag (31 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
This won't be out for Christmas 2014, but perhaps next year: Ice-bound, a novel/game that is half book-based, half iPad/PC-based.
posted by elisse at 6:59 AM on November 21, 2014

Ready Player One by Ernest Kline is what you want. Virtual reality, high stakes scavenger hunt for a video game easter egg, and 1980s pop culture. And R2-D2 like you've never seen him before. You don't actually play a game, but the characters in the book basically live inside one.
posted by stampsgal at 7:19 AM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure a mystery is the same thing as a game, but S is a novel(??) by Doug Dorst and JJ Abrams, which is a multimedia mystery. "multimedia", yet all paper. It's a book (novel A, written/translated by B and C) plus margin notes written by students D and E, plus additional stuff tucked in as bookmarks, etc - postcards (primarily to/from D and E), extra pieces of info related to B and C, all as clues to try to figure out what's going on, the whole story of the people involved in this novel.
posted by aimedwander at 7:27 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Not sure if they're too aimed at children, but the books of Graeme Base are puzzles, clues packed into every page.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:35 AM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Frostborn: Thrones and Bones, v. 1 is a decent YA fantasy novel by Lou Anders centered around a board game--a variant of Hnefatafl--that is described in an appendix, IIRC in enough detail to play it. I've read the book, and it's pretty light: I guess middle grade is more accurate than YA. But it was still reasonably entertaining to read as an adult.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:37 AM on November 21, 2014

There is that lovely book without a title by Kit Williams from the early eighties.
posted by tapir-whorf at 7:37 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Lone Wolf choose your own adventure series fits your requirements. I loved them as a kid, but I am not sure if they have stood the test of time. There are over 20 books.
posted by sacrifix at 7:39 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

The entirety of the gameplay of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is reading, so I think of it as a "playable book."
posted by jbickers at 7:42 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Maze by Christopher Manson is fun.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:42 AM on November 21, 2014

Not really a game, but a sci-fi novel about a game, with the protagonist being a master boardgamer - Player Of Games by Iain M Banks. It's about the guy visiting a newly-discovered alien culture who decide their ruler based on a massively-complicated boardgame that takes days to finish, and trying to win.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:44 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

They have these jigsaw puzzle mysteries where you read an unfinished mystery story then do the jigsaw to create a picture that provides you with clues to solve the puzzle (the solution is written in the back, usually in mirror writing). Would something like that work? There are plenty on Amazon if you search Jigsaw Puzzle Mystery.

The first result is Murder on the Titanic. Don't get that one, I wasn't a huge fan.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:50 AM on November 21, 2014

Tales of the Arabian Nights is very much a game that plays out like a book. Lots of reading involved.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 7:51 AM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm surprised someone hasn't mentioned Jumanji, which was a book, movie, and board game (game available separate from the other two).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:52 AM on November 21, 2014

The folks at Lone Shark Games recently released Maze of Games and it's basically a puzzle-based novel, or novel-based book of puzzles.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 7:54 AM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

John Darnielle's Wolf in White Van is about a game (and is lovely).
posted by togdon at 7:59 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Chris Ware's Building Stories is a book disguised as a game; it comes in a big shrink-wrapped board game box but instead of being a playable game it's a "graphic novel" style narrative in the form of a bunch of board game pieces. I haven't read it yet but Ware is amazing and it's high on my holiday wish list as a person who likes reading and games.
posted by contraption at 8:09 AM on November 21, 2014

There were the Crime Dossiers of Wheatley and Links which were books that played like a game. I was lucky enough to have two of these. They are mystery books which included all sorts of "evidence items." For example, a piece of "blood-"stained carpet was included with the book set. You would have "the original telegram" sent between lovers. With the story of the book and the pieces of evidence you could solve the mystery.
Colorful characters, Agatha Christie-like mystery.
Novel enough to be fun. I found the mysteries easy, but then I find with Agatha Christie it is easy to pinpoint the killer.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:21 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

If they're iOS users, as a stocking stuffer you could throw in a gift code for 80 Days, a very fun "choose your own adventure" game.

You play the role of Passepartout in Around the World in 80 Days. The game involves a lot of strategy, and the story unfolds in text in a really clever way.

Here's a video review that gives you a feel for the game.
posted by Old Man McKay at 8:32 AM on November 21, 2014

I came to recommend Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective as well. Here's a video review of it which might help you get a feeling for the game (the intro is a bit silly, you can skip forward a minute or two if you don't like it).
posted by bjrn at 8:56 AM on November 21, 2014

Oh, I don't know if CYOA game books would count, but there's a MeFi Project connected to the new DestinyQuest series. I have one of the physical books, having liked the initial scenes well enough to pick it up, but the main thing I can report is they're bigger and more dense than any game books I recall from the 80s.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:17 AM on November 21, 2014

Isn't Dragonlance based on DnD? You could get them one of the anthologies with the appropriate module. I particularly rec the anthos because imo they do more for world building than the lynchpin trilogies
posted by spunweb at 9:31 AM on November 21, 2014

Solitaire RPGs are an option if that sort of thing is appealing. Tunnels and Trolls has a collection for example.
posted by Winnemac at 11:00 AM on November 21, 2014

If you are looking for a gag gift... there is, indeed, a novelization of the movie Battleship.

Honest to god, I googled that not expecting to find anything, because how ridiculous an idea is that? A book based on a screenplay for a movie based on game? But lo, look what America hath wrought.
posted by maryr at 11:18 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lord of the Rings Online is a pretty brilliant MMORPG. It does a wonderful job of retelling the story as you progress and stays quite true to the lore.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:21 AM on November 21, 2014

The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno has a decoder ring inside to decipher clues throughout the book. It's also a really fantastic read, if a little depressing.
posted by moons in june at 11:59 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Landscape Painted with Tea is a book that is sort of a crossword puzzle.
posted by bdc34 at 12:18 PM on November 21, 2014

Ellen Raskin of The Westing Game fame has a book called The Tattooed Potato that's similar.
posted by ifjuly at 2:11 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love love love the Sorcery! series by Steve Jackson. It is a roleplaying game for one person completely in paperback book form, and the dice are even printed in various combinations on the pages, so you just have to flip at random to find your roll! My favorite of the books in the set was "Seven Serpents". I'm not sure how easy it will be to find these days (they were quite popular in the 80s and 90s). But it is well worth the search if you yearn to do some gaming discreetly (such as on the bus) and all by yourself.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 3:23 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Meanwhile, by Jason Shiga, is a sort of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story, but with more complicated and interesting story and mechanics, and done as a comic. Recommended.
posted by bfields at 2:18 PM on November 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Steve Jackson's Sorcery series, mentioned above, is a hybrid between a choose-your-own-adventure book and a single-player tabletop rpg with some interesting fantasy artwork. The first two books are also available as an app for android and ios, and the conversion from book to app is well done.
posted by Svejk at 3:43 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

To Be or Not To Be is an amazing and hilarious Shakespeare Choose your own adventure adaptation where you can read as three different characters and there are bizarre, hard to find Easter eggs. It's far more than just a normal CYOA book and wickedly funny.
posted by sleeping bear at 7:31 AM on November 23, 2014

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