Imagine drawing a Shakespearean sonnet. Or hearing a Matisse painting. Playing a book as a video game.

Well for anyone who was rocking the internet back in February of this year, The Great Gatsby Game gave you the ability to do exactly that.

I got a great chance to interview the brilliant minds behind this amazing little experience. Taste some tidbits below or read it HERE.

NEA: The Big Read is about inspiring people across the country to pick up a book. Do you think those who play The Great Gatsby Game need to have read the book in order to enjoy it? Or do you think people could be inspired by the game to pick up the book?

PETER SMITH: When we were making the game, we really thought no one would like it if they didn’t really love both the book and the games we were referencing—we thought it was going to be a pretty small audience. But it turned out that a lot of people on either side liked it anyway. My parents always wanted me to read books instead of playing games. But then my dad got hooked on the game and played it every night for a month. I was really touched when he finally beat it. And on the flip side, you have people…who never read the book but got a kick out of the game. The game really comes from a place of love for both of its sources, so there are a lot of little jokes for fans of either to enjoy. And if people pick up the book, I’m thrilled.

CHARLIE HOEY: The game definitely is funniest if Gatsby’s pretty fresh in your mind; there are a lot of jokes that are only relevant to the reader. Our process for vetting jokes was to never sacrifice gameplay for a literary reference, to never make a joke too much at the expense of either The Great Gatsby or old video games. It was important above all else for it to really feel like something from this era, with all the technical limitations and gameplay conventions and terrible translations. At the same time, we love the book and wanted to carry some of our favorite passages and scenes across the vast divide between these mediums more or less intact.

More than a few people have told me they’re going back to read the book after playing the game, which is really a great compliment. I’ve also gotten emails from a few English teachers that used it in class or in homework assignments, making kids compare and contrast references to the novel. Always makes my day.

Is this the future of the arts? Specifically of literature? While I know Charlie and Peter would agree: there’s no substitute to reading the real thing… sometimes I wonder if perhaps we can increase ACCESS through other alternative artistic forms.

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