Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I was in the spa at my health club yesterday when I overheard the following conversation:
"You can use all kinds of weapons--sword, hatchet, whatever and I just grabbed the guy and ripped his arm off."
"It's like Gears of War 3 only more violent. Blood everywhere."
And in the middle guess who shows up? Chaos!"
"No way!"

Several things were interesting about this exchange. The first was that these were not kids. They were men, at least in their twenties. It took me a couple of sentences to realize that they were talking about a video game, and then my next reaction was that this was more real to them than real life.

We talk about growing violence in our society, about young men seeing life as cheap and yet we have men like this who are living vicariously by killing other creatures on screen. No wonder it's easy to pull a trigger in real life when someone pisses us off.

Another woman was sitting in the hot tub and she and I exchanged amused glances. As she left she murmured to me. "Three words. Get a life."

As I left I found myself thinking 'thank heavens I write historical novels.' First my characters express themselves in complete sentences. They have large vocabularies. They are careful not to mention distasteful subjects and in the case of my Royal Spyness novels all the young men would have fought in World War 1. They would have experienced the real horrors of war and would never want to play a violent video game--trust me.


  1. IN a way, you benefit! Because this is par for the male course, there is a large female audience seeking historical/mystery novels containing men who speak in complete sentences:) In a way, Rhys, your books are OUR video games where fantasy, sadly, often trumps current reality.

  2. Actually, I know several Iraq war vets who play first person shooter video games. They played them before they left, and still enjoy the challenge and story lines. While I am also not a fan of very violent games, I AM a fan of both RPG (like Final Fantasty) and action games (Zelda, Okami style), AND your books. I also write and speak in complete sentences, and know how to put down technology to talk to real live people. But I do relax and sound more Southern, as well as using the term "dude" for fun, when I'm relaxing with friends my age (early 30s). I think your readers are more diverse than you think.

  3. When video games became a popular computer pastime, I tried to involve our 2 little ones (too late for the older kids) in interactive fiction. I bought several of these story games on little square floppy discs in hard cases. Remember those? They would play them with me but never alone. They tell me now they thought I was punishing them for something, but they couldn't figure out what!