Instead of taking the subway home last night, Patrick and I walked south through Manhattan, taking the air and running a couple of small errands. At one point I found myself looking into a shop window where a big video monitor was running sample scenes from some kind of fantasy adventure computer game.
The players were represented as a couple of interestingly individuated warriors who appeared to be either attacking or trying to sneak into a fortified structure. The building was nicely detailed as well, and looked like a logical piece of real-world construction, only zippier and with more fantasy elements. I believe there may have been a monster involved in it somewhere. The motion was good. The space and lighting and perspective looked acceptably realistic.
When I got home, I spent some little time looking at computer game ads and reviews. I still couldn’t figure out what I’d been seen in that window. There are a lot of good fantasy/magic/quest games out there.
If you’re writing novels, it’s not enough to arbitrarily have standard genre fantasy characters running around loose in standard genre fantasy settings, questing for the magic rose-quartz dingleberry while they try to defeat the Dark Lord who’s trying to take over the world. If that’s all your audience wants, they can get it elsewhere.
And computer games aren’t their only source. If all your readers want is the usual matter and appurtenance of genre fantasy, they can also find that stuff in more thoughtful, complex, and inventive fantasy novels. That’s what they like best anyway.
Writing nothing, or a version of nothing that’s enacted on the same sets and uses the same props and costumes that everyone else is using, is a losing proposition.