Did you know that some of the best video games today are based on books? If your teen (or pre-teen) has been playing these games, he or she may be unaware of the great, original story lines and characters.

Video Games Based on Books

The following games are rated T for Teen or M for Mature for a variety of reasons and may not be appropriate for a younger audience. Please check with your local/online game store or leave a comment if you have specific questions about the games listed.

The Witcher

Rating M for MatureThe Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

This fantasy series from Poland has received critical acclaim. The story centers on the Geralt of Rivia who is a ‘witcher’ or monster hunter. Because of his magical powers and abilities he often is employed by powerful people and goes on on amazing adventures.

Why you should read the book

There are several short stories, written by Andrezej Sapkowski, which were made into two books. They have rich story lines and feature romance, action and an intense political narrative. The novels have also been adapted into a series of graphic novels.

Why you should play the game

The game is a point of pride for the Polish people. When President Obama visited Poland in 2010, Prime Minister Donald Tusk presented him with a copy of the game. Similar to the short stories, the game features side missions which allow you to explore the beautifully designed map and encounter creatures. The game also does not shy away from politics; choices will affect the way characters interact with you, and change the outcome of the overarching story. Being based on books, the story has depths that can be tricky to follow, but if understood provides an exceptional gaming experience.

Metacritic Score: 88

Metro 2033 Series

Rating M for Mature

A post-apocalyptic novel set in Russia in the year 2033. Due to a war and the nuclear fallout, civilization has been forced underground to live in metro systems. The story examines what would happen to society after people are forced to live below the surface.

Why you should read the book

This story has an impressive history. It started out online where the author, Dmitry Glukhovsky, posted the book on his website for free. He has since published two books and allowed it be created into a video game. It just goes to show you the power of great writing. Encourage your kids to write short stories or start a blog, not only because it’s imaginative fun, but you never what the outcome might be!

Why you should play the game

The story stays true to the novel. You play as Artyom and encounter many of the characters in both Metro 2033 and Metro 2034. Much of the game simply allows you to explore environments to see how people live together underground. Some choose to live in civilized communities, while others reverted back to fascism and see the reemergence of Nazis.

The sequel to the game, ‘Metro: Last Light’ has inspired the author to write a follow up novel: Metro 2035.

Metacritic Score: 84

The Walking Dead

Rating M for MatureThe Walking Dead

Everyone has heard of The Walking Dead series, due to the hit AMC show. Zombies tend to be all the rage now, due in large part to the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard.

Why you should read the book

The graphic novels are justly celebrated and won the Best Continuing Series award in 2010.While the series obviously feature zombies, they also focus on interactions between the story’s humans. How do people treat each other in a world that has been turned upside down? Will people continue to live in order or do anything to survive? Asking the question who is the real monster, the walking dead or the living?

Why you should play the game

The game is set in the same universe as the graphic novels, but you do not play as the main character. Many of the characters from the novels are featured in the story and you can interact with them. While the series dramatizes how people would react, the game tests how YOU would react by putting your character in challenging situations. These decisions will affect you and those around you. Similar to the novels, the game is released as 2-3 hour long parts, or episodes, that can be purchased individually. It has been praised for its storytelling and won three VGAs (Video Game Awards) in 2012.

Metacritic Score: 94

American McGee’s Alice

Rating M for Mature

Alice in Wonderland is a classic tale popularized by Disney’s film. The story follows a young girl who falls down a rabbit hole and encounters a wild range of animal and human characters in increasingly strange environments.

Why you should read the book

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a classic piece of literature. It is entertaining and rich in symbolism and satire. Plus, as a mathematician, Lewis Carroll challenges mathematical assertions being developed at the time. The characters in the story are memorable and beloved. So it can be read and enjoyed on many levels, across all ages.

Why you should play the game

The game serves as a sequel to the story with Alice questioning her sanity. Many of the famous characters from the book are featured as friends or foes. In order to sort herself out Alice must return to Wonderland. With a unique art style and imaginative settings and gameplay, this game offers one of the most interesting adaptations on the list.

Metacritc Score: 85

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Rating T for Teen

The story is about an epic journey by one man, called ‘Monkey,’ who is given a special task and must make a pilgrimage to the West.

Why you should read the book

This is a story from China written in the 16th century! Get your kids interested in other cultures by reading this epic journey about a monk who is given a quest to find and return artifacts. While the story was written in the 16th century, it tells of the exploits of Xuanzang in the mid-7th century. Spreading the religious word along the way, gaining disciples and battling demons are just a few of the events that take place during the tale.

Why you should play the game

Imagine a game that could get your child interested in Chinese folklore! Regardless, the game is a clever adaptation of the original text. You play as the character ‘Monkey’ and are also given a special task. This modern adaption takes the ancient story and sets it in a fantasy world, 150 years after a great war. You will gain companions along the way but the demons have been reimagined as mechanical beasts which must be faced.

Metacritic Score: 82

Tom Clancy Series

Ratings Vary

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Tom Clancy. Tom Clancy has sold over 100 million books. These military thrillers often feature an individual or group trying to thwart attacks on the United States.

Why you should read the books

If your student has any interest in the military reading a Tom Clancy novel is a must. His books are continuously praised for their accurate details and intense plots. His first publishing deal was sold to the Naval Institute Press for $5,000. The book? The Hunt for Red October. Since then, 15 of his works have become NY Times best sellers.

Why you should play the games

Over 40 games have been created using the Tom Clancy name. Tom Clancy founded the gaming studio ‘Red Storm’. The studio was approached to make a game that could be used for military training. The Splinter Cell franchise was originally endorsed by Tom Clancy but was not based on a book. However, after the success of the game several ghost writers turned it into novels, which is quite a twist!

Metacritic Scores: Listed

It’s amazing to see these connections between books and games. Great stories recreated to appeal to a gamer audience can be used to get kids interested in reading and broaden their horizons. And readers who want to interact with a novel’s characters can play the game.

Are your kids playing these any of these games? Would they be interested in reading more about them? Leave a comment with your thoughts or any advice for other parents.

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