I have yet another confession to make. (As a blogger, I end up confessing a lot.) I... am a recovering video game addict. They don't happen to have support groups specifically for my particular addiction in this part of the world, unfortunately, so I have to use another addiction - writing - to combat the first one. Sort of like trading one drug for another. :) Oh well.
However, I think that gamers can be a very handy resource for the serious fantasy writer, and I'll tell you why.
1. Gamers Know The Genre
And DO they know the genre. Video games aren't much more than interactive stories, and as such, a lot of the terms, tropes and trolls are the same. Gamers often are heavily immersed in the culture of their respective gaming genres, and gamers who play a lot of fantasy games will be invaluable resources.
For example, gamers usually know a lot about armor and weaponry. It's kind of their thing. They'll know things about armor and weaponry that you didn't even know you didn't know. Why do they know these things? Because 1) they need to know in order to win and 2) they LOVE this kind of stuff.
2. Gamers Play by the Rules
Inventing a magic system? Have a gamer test it. And by test, I mean pick holes in it. Video games, as a rule, HAVE to have rules for their magic systems, otherwise nothing would make sense and there would be no way to reach goals or defeat villains. It's the same with magic systems in books. The more the magic is posed as a solution to the conflict, the more specific it has to be and the better you as the author must understand it. Gamers intrinsically understand this, and you'll often find that they have a deep love for a well put-together magic system.
3. Gamers Can Have Cool Ideas
Getting stuck somewhere with your fantasy world? Talk it over with a gamer. Think of the unique viewpoint that they'll have - hundreds and hundreds of ideas taken in over the course of years of interactive storytelling... maybe they aren't writers, but they'll have things that they wish were in video games, or that they wish some writer would put in a book. Think how useful they might be in creature creation, for example, or in building a culture that revolves around horse magic.
But Where Do I Find A Gamer?
They're everywhere. Seriously. Not hard to find. If you want to find a gamer who is nice enough to help you with your stories and you don't already have one, try this:
1. Family reunions. Every family has a gamer. Sometimes they're hard to spot, but you can find them.
2. Play some games yourself in the genre you're writing. You might like it. Just don't get addicted. :)
3. Online writer's forums. TONS of writers are also gamers.
4. Your kids or grandkids friends. Need I say more? :)
Anybody have any good stories on how gamers have been helpful to them? Anybody know a good way to thank a helpful gamer?