My interest in Animal Eye isn’t necessarily the same as what Cindy sees in her story and even though I’m talking to readers of Bear Publications about the story here, my interest isn't mainly about making a sale. Mainly I want to talk about how an original idea can open up a market that not many Christians are writing in--but which we can contribute to in a creative and original way.
By the way, Animal Eye is a GameLit adventure, though also could qualify as LitRPG.
In Animal Eye, Khin May and Jake are playtesters checking out the conversion of a popular kids’ game to an adult version. Khin May becomes Ahva, a feisty crow who belongs to Osse, an archer and herbalist. Jake plays Nagheed, a Nethanyan mountain shepherd, who belongs to Baron Rafayel Dorcas.
They experience the Virtual Reality game as the characters and learn how to do things the animals can do. Ahva learns to fly and mimic almost any sound with practice, and Nagheed can track targets by their scent and run fast enough to keep pace with a horse.
As the game progresses through a variety of quests, they advance their skills while learning the unusual history of the world.
They and their humans gather resources to stop a priestess bent on creating laughing maniacal killers to fulfill an old grudge to destroy all civilizations but her own.
What interests me though is the convention of video games for players in the imaginary GameLit setting to be humans or maybe demi-humans or intelligent aliens. Such players may have animals that help them, especially in medieval or ancient world settings. But in Animal Eye, the situation is flipped. Humans, who are important to the story for sure, are NPC (Non-Player Characters) played by an advanced AI to the point where they seem as real as the PC (Player Character) protagonists. But in the imaginary game of Animal Eye, a human player would always play an animal, never a human being or demi-human or alien.
By putting animal stars out front, I think this game can succeed in being kid-friendly and serve as an easy introduction to GameLit and LitRPG for readers who may not otherwise be interested in these genres. Plus, the original design for the imaginary game behind Animal Eye would be a lot of fun to play if it were a real game. Imagine learning to fly like a bird and seeing through their eyes--or seeing smells while playing as a dog (yes, this his how the game actually works!) or having other abilities animals have that people don't.
I think this story can also appeal to hard-core fans of GameLit and LitRPG, even though it doesn't hit a mature rating. A good story is a good story.
Of course by opening a connection to a genre with only a small amount of kid-friendly content, a genre that may be hostile to Christianity, there’s always the danger that connecting an innovative story to that world will not only provide a gateway for people who would not normally consider a story like Cindy's, it could aslo lead inquisitive young Christians to start out reading works like Cindy’s and follow the genre into it's "mature content" areas. Yes, that’s a possible outcome–we should acknowledge that possibility and guard against it. In particular Christian parents should be aware that the GameLit and LitRPG genres contain some "adult" content and young people should be appropriately warned. Discernment is, of course, key.
If any aspiring writers reading this would be interested in writing a story that’s similar to Animal Eye or would like to work with Cindy and I contributing to a sequel story that’s part of her game-featuring-animals-type story setting (though not with her same characters), we might be interested in that, too. Contact us.
Evil Mastermind of Bear Publications :)
Originally from Michigan, Cindy Koepp combined a love of pedagogy and ecology into a 14-year career as an elementary science specialist. After teaching four-footers – that's height, not leg count – she pursued a Master's in Adult Learning with a specialization in Performance Improvement. Her published works include science fiction, fantasy, and GameLit novels; a passel of short stories; and a few educator resources. When she isn't reading or writing, Cindy is currently working as a tech writer, hat collector, quilter, crafter, and strange joke teller.