I confess that I’ve never played video games with Adam Gidwitz, but on the occasions when Adam has joined my family for board games while visiting Austin, he’s shown himself to be a fun, vigorous competitor. I figured he’d be a good author to include in the Games & Books & Q&A series.
Adam is the author of the fairy tale-inspired (to put it lightly), occasionally a smidge gruesome (to employ a bit of understatement) middle-grade trilogy consisting of A Tale Dark & Grimm, In a Glass Grimmly, and The Grimm Conclusion (all published by Dutton).
His upcoming books include a retelling of The Empire Strikes Back, part of a series that will also feature previous interviewee Tom Angleberger‘s take on Return of the Jedi. Before we get into talking about video games, here’s a little more information on their Star Wars books.
But enough about Star Wars. (I’m kidding. There’s no such thing.) Let’s talk about video games.
CB: What do you remember about the first video game you ever played?
AG: Is this question just an excuse to gauge your interviewees’ age? I know it is. I find it offensive and embarrassing. What if I said the first computer game I played was Halo? You’d think I was 14. Or Dr. Babbage’s Automated Loom-Game? You’d think I was 200.
In truth, the first game I played was Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, for the original Nintendo. I remember a friend of mine, Chip Martucci (isn’t that a great name for a kid in a nostalgic memory?) had the first Nintendo of anyone I knew. It was the freshest thing on the market. I coveted it, and coveted my time playing it. I would sleep over at his house, and wake up at 5 a.m., and just lie there, starving, waiting for him to wake up and praying he would want to play Nintendo.
I had a problem.
CB: What games did you play the most when you were a kid? What did you love about them?
AG: The game I have been devoted to since it appeared was Sid Meier’s Civilization, as well as its many retreads and spin-offs. I had the original game on its seven floppy discs. When I want to update the most recent iteration (Civ V, for those counting at home) with an expansion pack, I can download it wirelessly. Despite the fact that one hundredth of the expansion pack couldn’t have fit on those floppies. How far we’ve come. All so I can conquer the world again and again and again.
CB: What role do games play in your life today?
AG: Honestly, I try to limit my gameplay these days, as I have an obsessive personality ONLY in regards to games (of all types). Whenever you try to close Civ, it says, “Are you sure?” And you can choose “Exit Game” or “Just one more turn…” Oh, if only it was “one more turn.” I literally threw my Civ III and IV discs down the trash chutes at college because I was not working — only to buy them again. And again throw them down the chutes. Sadly, if I threw the wi-fi router down the trash chute, I would not be able to participate in interviews like this.
So these days, I try to channel my desire for world domination and epic battles into my fiction. Adults often bemoan those parts of my books. But kids, especially gamers, get it. If I can make a kid feel like I did playing those games, if I can transform “One more turn…” into “One more page…,” I will have done a good thing.
I expect to continue this series through the October publication of my book Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet. If there’s anyone in the gamer or kidlit camp that you’d love to see me feature in upcoming posts in this series, please drop me a line or tweet at me or just leave a message in the comments.