I like to read. These days, I confess I seldom find time to read a full non-fiction book, but try to find the ‘readers digest’ condensed version on the web. Time/money. But I do still read novels, as enjoyment. However, I’m reading differently than I used to.
As a Father’s Day present, my family took me to a used book store to load up on fun novels. I picked up a couple from recommended series of books, and two of them really were a revelation. One was written in a very ‘street’ language, and very elliptical, and I had to work hard to understand (it also sort of presumed previous experience with the series). The other was a recent book from a familiar series, but was in the first person present, and also was hard work to read, requiring cognitive ‘leaps’ to make sense. The revelation was that both books kept me to the end, not that I’d choose to have those experiences again. It taught me a lot about how far we might be able to stretch our audience to stay engaged. That is, if we’ve set up a compelling story line, or have other ways of ensuring motivation.
Another lesson comes from another series, where the protagonist’s reflections on society are revelatory to me. It’s fiction, but the description of what the character sees resonates with what I see my partners doing in successful conversations with clients, and I’m always looking to learn to be better at what I do.
From the game design point of view, these are important reasons to read different genres of books (ok, so I’m lax on reading bodice rippers, I have to have some limits), but my learning here is that reading different author’s styles (and their stylistic explorations) give you two things: an exposure to the breadth of what will work, and some insight into how other people can parse the world.
So, as I tell my workshop attendees: “you have a tough assignment ahead of you, you’ve got to spend more time exploring the breadth and depth of entertainment to add to the repertoire of solutions you can bring”. And there’s something to be said about a hot tub, a cold beer, and a good book…