The Broken World by Tim Etchells - review by Matt Thorne

Matt Thorne

State of Play

The Broken World


Heinemann 420pp £14.99

In Trigger Happy: The Inner Life of Videogames (2001), the technology and literary critic Steven Poole wrote about his disappointment that no one, as yet, has attempted to make a computer game out of Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire. Initially this seems an absurd notion, but if computer game designers are to draw on fiction for inspiration then maybe Nabokov isn’t such a bad place to start. He was, after all, an author who used games for plotting purposes, whether cards (King, Queen, Knave), chess (The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, among many others) or literary (Ada).

While computer game designers have tried to learn from novelists, often hiring them to bring depth to character and plot, relatively few writers have examined whether the way stories are constructed in computer games could inspire fiction. There was a spate of computer game-inspired fiction in the 1980s, including the

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