Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski recently gave an interview in which he heavily criticized video games as a medium. He claimed that he made the Witcher games popular, and that the games in some way hurt his sales. Both of these claims are absolutely, hilariously untrue, as was pointed out by Dmitry Glukhovsky of Metro 2033 fame.
In a recent interview for Waypoint, the author of The Witcher books Andrzej Sapkowski took to bashing the video games based on his works, as well as games as a storytelling medium. It’s his opinion that there’s “no room for depth or sophisticated language with which games could elevate culture” because characters can talk to squirrels. He claims that it wasn’t the games that made the books popular outside of Poland, but the other way around. He also says that the games hurt the sales of the books in some way that even he can’t seem to explain.
The narrative and artistic qualities (and potentials) of video games is still a point of contention for some, so we won’t be dealing with that right now. However, the other two claims are completely false. A quick Google search shows us that the first English translations of one of the Witcher books came after the first game came out. True, the books did have resonance in Eastern Europe before the games, but it’s safe to assume that the English translation didn’t exactly hinder sales.
Speaking of, as mentioned above, Mr Sapkowski believes the games do somehow “spoil his market”. How? Well, as he puts it:
When I come to my author meetings, there’s no one in the audience close to my age. I am 69. There’s no one. Kids everywhere. How are some of them supposed to know—especially in Germany, Spain or the US—that my books are not game related? That I’m not writing books based on games? They may not know that, and CDPR bravely conceals the game’s origins. It’s written in fine print, you need a microscope to see it, that the game is ‘based on’ [my books].
If you don’t understand what he’s complaining about, I volunteer my interpretation: He’s upset because his younger audience thinks he’s adapting the games into novels. I might be able understand why somebody might be ticked off with people confusing their work for fan fiction. But just how this spoils his market, especially since he claims that he’s only in it for the money anyway, I have no idea.
In the same article, Waypoint asked Dmitry Glukhovsky, author of metro 2033 to comment. He answered that he considers Sapkowski to be “totally wrong” and “an arrogant mother*****r”.
Without the gaming franchise, the Witcher series would never get this crazy international readership that it has. And it’s not just about the gamers but the gaming press and the buzz it creates, and just the feeling of something great and massive and impressive coming out. This got people hooked. He would remain a local Eastern European phenomenon without this, but he would never break into the West. And the same goes for my Metro books.
Glukhovsky is referring to the video games based on his books, which he absolutely welcomes and acknowledges how important they were in the books reaching a much wider audience in the West.
What’s your opinion on this whole issue? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!