Why Isn’t This a Game Yet? The Road

“Why Isn’t This a Game Yet?” is a series that combines two of my favorite things: video games and great books. I have loved to read even longer than I’ve enjoyed gaming, and while I am not usually interested in novelizations of games, there are many books that I wish were turned into games. In this series, I will share some of these books, and (sometimes with mild spoilers) explain why I think this book would make such a great game.

Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road is one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read. It’s just plain sad. After reading it, I started to doubt humanity just a bit less. So in other words, this book is darn effective.

Set in post-apocalyptic Earth, The Road follows the story of two survivors, a boy and his father, is they aimlessly travel the wasteland trying to survive. They rarely see other humans, and often avoid them as most of these humans are hostile (usually by necessity). The Road paints a bleak picture of human nature; all of the survivors in this novel are trying to survive and rarely try to help others if it could be detrimental to themselves.

Some of the most effective parts of this book are in the sparse, yet emotional dialogue that happens between the boy and his father. These conversations are simple on the surface, but perhaps the most important parts of these exchanges are unspoken. Often these conversations bring up simple questions with complex answers, questions that children often ask. Learning about the father’s views on family, religion, and human nature allows the reader to better understand his controversial actions in the novel.

There is no doubt that The Road would make a great game. It would work best in the survival horror genre. A big reason for my confidence in this novel’s video game prospects is that The Last of Us, Naughty Dog’s next game, was clearly inspired by The Road and looks awesome. While The Last of Us looks great, The Road delves even deeper into complex issues, something that video games rarely do.

I can very easily see a video game version of The Road where players may not fight very often, but when combat encounters do occur, they are difficult and shocking. It would be refreshing to play a game where it is truly painful and necessary to take a human life. These kinds of emotional conundrums happen very often in The Road, and they are often quite heart-wrenching encounters.

Is always, if you have not read The Road, immediately do so. If you have, you can understand why I think that this novel would make a fantastic, gripping, emotional game if the right developer came along.