Someone Make This: A Game Written by Chuck Palahniuk


Chuck Palahniuk headshotThe best games on the market today allow players to follow differing story paths, align themselves with the factions of their choice, and enjoy a different ending with each play. Unfortunately, most of these games are fairly singularly minded. Sure, players can play a game over and over and explore all aspects of the game, but Cole can’t be both good and evil in the same play of inFamous.

Author Chuck Palahniuk is a great American modern author who writes scathing and humorous views of humanity’s seedy underbelly about corporate life, religion, and time travel. All of his books leap from perspective to perspective, creating a journey that cannot be satisfied until the last page is read.

While two of Palahniuk’s books have been turned into movies, it is time for this great American author to explore the world of video games for his unique approach to storytelling.

SurvivorChuck Palahniuk Survivor cover

Skipping Palahniuk’s first book, Fight Club, since it is already so well known, his second novel, Survivor, explores the shady world of religious cults, inspirational speakers, and fortune tellers. Beginning on the last page of the book, the novel is a countdown to the main character’s death, as told to the reader at the very beginning.

After hijacking a plane, Tender Branson breaks into the black box to record his story. As a member of the death cult known as the Creedish Church, Tender is one of the thousands of kids around the world forced to live a life of indentured servitude to help support the church. After the church fulfills its death pact, many of the servant children begin committing suicide. Tender eventually becomes the sole survivor of the church and is manufactured into a spiritual leader by major corporations.

The story is written in flashback, and as Tender tells his story to the black box, he remembers early parts of his life and tells several parts out of order. The reader gets insight into the other characters only through Tender’s assumptions. The romance, the terror, the mystery grows with every descending chapter.

Video games do not have to be told from start to finish. They can jump out of order. For example, in Assassin’s Creed, players don’t have to collect new weapons and abilities as the game progresses. They can start with a few weapons, have all the weapons in the next chapter, have no weapons and several abilities in the next chapter, and on and on.

SnuffChuck Palahniuk Snuff cover

The world of porn has never been so ugly. A legend has decided to retire in style with the biggest gang-bang film of all time. 600 male porn actors have been hired and set in a room to wait their turn to perform coitus with Cassie Wright.

The story is told through Mr. 600, Mr. 72, Mr. 137, and Sheila (the personal assistant to Ms. Wright), giving the reader a perspective into each of their lives and their motivations for being involved with the film. The science of porn is illuminated, giving readers tips for improving their sexual performance and avoiding death by sex.

And yes, as the title would suggest, this book is about the Holy Grail of porn: death on commercial film. One of the five main characters will off him or herself on camera, making the film worth millions of dollars and impossible to sell on retail shelves. The mystery for the reader is discovering who has the most motivation to commit suicide on camera: The retiring porn queen hoping to break the gang-bang record, the disgraced news anchor who did a gay porn to earn enough money to eat, etc.

Why should players be forced to follow the story of one protagonist? Why can’t all the characters be protagonists? In Ico, what story could have been told if the boy with horns, the girl in white, a shadow warrior, and the queen were controllable characters? As I sift through my collection of games (which by no means is comprehensive), I have no games where I can play as every character in the game during one play. Sure, games like Dynasty Warriors allow players to pick any character from a side, but players can’t be all characters during the story mode. There is nothing wrong with linear games, as long as players get something in the game that they cannot get anywhere else.

The Chuck Palahniuk Game

If Guillermo del Toro can get a game, certainly one of the greatest American novelists today should be able to take players into a unique, distorted, and perverse world.

Palahniuk’s books tell fascinating story through interesting and unpredictable characters. In a Palahniuk game, players are no longer bound by gaming conventions. The game does not have to start at the beginning and end at the end. Players do not have to save the world or destroy it, when they can word to do both. In a Palahniuk game, the rules of video games change.

Who Should Make This

Rockstar Games – What better place to give Palahniuk an interactive playground than through a sandbox? In an open world, players choose where they want to go and what they will experience, and with a disconnected game, players can jump from location to location, character to character as they please.

Nintendo – I know what you’re thinking: How could Nintendo make a dark and gritty game? Think about this, most of the gaming advancements that have created the gaming conventions that we know and love today came from Nintendo. Who better to rewrite the rules than the ones who wrote the rules in the first place?

Square Enix – Recently, Final Fantasy has been the only successful franchise from Square Enix, but they had a great failure with Mindjack. Clearly, it knows how to allow players to explore various abilities, worlds, and characters, but there hasn’t been a game to show gamers why Square Enix was king in the 90s.

Final Word

In a world of franchises and sequels, it would be refreshing to see a game that tells its own singular story with no cliffhanger endings or promises for DLC in the future. What’s more, to break the rust off of the gaming industry, a game needs to shatter the rules. Chuck Palahniuk continually breaks the rules in his novels, so someone needs to give him a chance to create a new type of video game.

Have an idea for something that would rock the gaming world, be it game, service, or product? Submit your ideas to Ben@GameTaffy.com and you could be published on GameTaffy.com.

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About Ben Davis

Ben writes for KWCR 88.1 Weber FM, Studio 76, the Signpost, and KSL.com and can be contacted on Twitter (@GameTaffyBen) or at Ben@GameTaffy.com!

Posted on December 29, 2011, in Someone Make This and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. What a great idea! I think his ideas would make for a very interesting game, but I am afraid of becoming overwhelmed. Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors but sometimes his books can be overwhelming with so many different stories being told. Imagining that in video game format is starting to give me anxiety. Hopefully, becuase I have now said that it would give me anxiety, it will be done. I think it would completely change the world of gaming as we all know it! Great article!

  2. Now, I only read the first paragraph because I am lazy, but I think there is a misconception there… “players can play a game over and over and explore all aspects of the game, but Cole can’t be both good and evil in the same play of inFamous”. Though this is true in a sense, you can still do both good and bad things all throughout the game; you will just end up with a neutral alignment. The real problem is the black and white view of good and evil. Rarely could you do something that you wish was in between. I beleive they said they were going to make it less black and white for the second one, but I haven’t followed that one at all. Your “girlfriend” was a complete bitch. I wish I could kill her off early and never listen to her complain about every thing you do, whether it was good or not.

    Another game that has a blatant black and white view is Bioshock. You could either save or harvest the little girls. If you are evil, you emerge from the place to try and take over the world… Just because I am evil does not mean I want to take over the world.

    But in the Elder Scrolls games, you can do both good and evil things, and are not pinned with a label (mostly). I love them.

    The real problem is budgets rarely allow large amounts of multiple endings. It becomes very difficult to know when people will want to choose a different path then the usual two presented. And instead of risking doing something people may love or may hate, they go with doing what most would find to be okay.

    However, I do thoroughly agree with your Final Word section.

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