Exclusive Interview with MMORPG Thriller Writer Emile van Veen
Emile van Veen is a husband, a gamer, the loving father of 2 children, and the author of fiction novel MMORPG: A World of Fun and Games… and Terrorism; a novel that recently challenged the Amazon Bestseller List by jumping into the Top 10,000 in 3 short days.
Emile, thanks for taking the time to meet with me today and discuss MMORPG: A World of Fun and Games… and Terrorism. As both a devout gamer and fiction writer myself, what you’ve accomplished here is nothing short of an inspiration; a unique blend of fantasy and suspense, of gaming and writing, of fiction and reality.
Could I begin with you telling us a little about your life as a gamer before MMORPG, what first inspired you to begin this journey, and how that changed once your writing had begun?
I have always been a gamer. It started when I was twelve years old and my parents gave me a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Later on, I wasted countless hours playing all subsequent versions of games like Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, Diablo and Warcraft. In 2007, a friend introduced me to World of Warcraft and I was hooked from the start.
The idea for MMORPG hit me when I read an article about how every single email and telephone conversation is screened electronically for suspicious words and phrases. It occurred to me that as a terrorist, it would be pretty safe to use an online game for your communication, because violence and killing are what they’re all about!
Once I started out on my journey of writing the book, my own gaming changed. Suddenly, I was primarily looking for things I could use instead of simply enjoying questing or raiding.
We already know that MMORPG is a story of suspense and terrorism within the confines of an MMORPG; could you tell us some more about the plot and events that take place within the novel, and how they are affected by their presence within an online video game?
The story is about terrorists who are using an online game for secret communications and to rehearse strikes. When my hero Robert Barnes stumbles upon their activities, the authorities don’t believe him. He starts his own investigation and a breathtaking pursuit in both the virtual and the real world begins. He must discover what they’re doing, who they are and how their actions inside of the game translate into bloody strikes and attacks in real life. Ultimately, he must infiltrate their guild. But when he learns their true identities, this proves to be a two-way mirror. I enjoyed myself immensely writing terrifying confrontations in both realities. PvP will never be the same again…
Do the events in the novel take place entirely within the World of Warcraft, an unnamed MMORPG, or a blend between both and the real world?
It a blend of all three, exactly like you say. The online game that being used by the terrorists is World of Warcraft, but I took many liberties with Azeroth and with some of the game mechanics and rules as well. The book is not about WoW but about the gameplay and social interaction in online role playing games in general. My main character is a complete novice to gaming and he gets the ultimate crash course from a lovely girl called Rebecca who steps in to help him. Through Robert eyes I got to relive the joy and wonder of my own first hesitant steps in the virtual realm and I think that the recalling of those sentiments is one of the kicks a reader gets out of reading MMORPG.
The relationship between Robert and Rebecca is a good example of the uniqueness of this novel. It was challenging to have them interact convincingly in and out of the game and establish a relationship. When you’re attracted to a girl, you’ll find that being a bit forward with your Tauren hunter is just a little easier. Part of the story actually takes place inside of the virtual world. The viewpoint switches between my main characters in real life and their avatars. When they’re online, the only thing that changes are their names and their surroundings. I treat the virtual world as just another scenery for the story.
While once upon a time gaming was merely a simple pastime, today it is the fastest growing, and most lucrative entertainment industry in the world. What’s your take on hardcore and professional gaming versus the more relaxed ‘MMORPG’ or ‘casual’ approach, and under which category do you fall under yourself?
I am definitely a casual gamer myself. The days of nightlong raiding expeditions are behind me. Nowadays, I preserve much of my time and attention for my fantastic wife Adrienne and my two kids Nikki and AnnaÃƒÂ¯s. What I see is that the vast majority of the players are casual gamers. That the beauty of these kinds of games; every player can decide for himself what he wants to do. I do understand the frequent frustrations of many hardcore gamers when it comes to epic gear and equipment. When someone invests much time and effort in a game, he should be rewarded with vastly superior stuff. It kills you when all those casual gamers acquire similar gear with little effort.
The gaming world is made up of a more diverse audience than any other on Earth, complied from people of all ages, sizes philosophies and mindsets, and ranging from those who began playing recently with the boom of current technology to those who’ve been playing since the days when single computers filled entire rooms. Were you always a gamer, or like so many others, was the birth of the MMORPG an entry point for you?
I have always been a gamer, but the massively multiplayer aspect altered my involvement significantly. Before, my only experience with multiplayer gaming had been Diablo, which was extremely casual. Now, suddenly, I was a member, an officer even, of a guild with all kinds of social responsibilities and a social calendar. You can’t just abort an instance run with your guild because you suddenly decide you’d rather be doing something else. The social aspect and the teamwork that so often required added a new dimension to gaming that I still find fascinating and irresistible.
I think from a gamers point of view, success such as yours evokes a multitude of questions that gamers ask just about every new person they meet: what are your favourite games? What’s your favourite gaming genre, and why? Do you play WoW? How often? Do you like it?
Those are a lot of questions! Much of that information about me can be found at my website www.emilevanveen.com. I’d like to add that I made a firm commitment to answer all the questions people ask me through the website and I participate actively in the forum. I understand that many authors are reluctant to engage with their readers, but I enjoy it thoroughly. Much of the talk and the questions are about gaming, and that happens to be a hobby of mine!
Many gamers have certain ‘gaming rituals’ they like to complete when they sit down with a game for the first time; personally, I like to light a fresh cigar whenever I begin playing a new Role-Playing Game. Do you have any gaming rituals you’ve developed over the years?
Yep, I select a single malt whisky from my collection. I open the bottle and my mind. Then, I force myself to slow down and settle into a new pace; gone are the stress and the tension of the day and now is the time to relax and to tackle new challenges in a new world.
Do you play many Free-To-Play MMOs? If so, what do you like/dislike most about this specific style of gaming?
I tried several but I found they fell short of games like WoW in many ways. The problem probably lies with me instead of with those games. The thing is, in order to master a new game and to reach pinnacles of level, crafts and professions, you have to commit to a game. When you start playing with the mindset that you’re just taking a peek, the commitment simply isn’t there. What I definitely dislike is that you can often buy your way into success, gear and so on. Those are the things that should be earned instead of bought in my opinion. Look at how LotRO works. You can play for free but if you want to enjoy the game to the fullest, you have to pay. Personally, I prefer to pay a small fixed periodic fee and to have all the players enjoy a level playing field. I do understand that developers need a valid business case, however.
Emile, our time together is nearing an end, so to wrap up I’d like to ask you one final question: today’s gaming world is vastly different to the one we saw a decade ago, and is likely different to the one we’ll see a decade from now; what would you most like to see from the gaming world in the next 10 years, and why?
In ten years, we’ll be playing these games like we’re living them. Consoles like the Wii are the first step toward a virtual reality where we walk, jump, slash and stab for real. Images, sounds and maybe even smells will be experienced all around us as if they’re real. I’m already looking forward to writing a novel about that!
I can’t thank you enough for your time today Emile; I wish you the best of luck in both your gaming and writing in the future, and too, the best of luck with MMORPG: A World of Fun and Games… and Terrorism. And to our beloved readers: MMORPG is available NOW on Amazon.com HERE.
Would you like a free copy of MMORPG: A World of Fun and Games… and Terrorism? We’re giving away 5 copies; one to each reader who sends us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with an answer to this question:
In 50 words or less, if you were writing a book set in an MMORPG, which game would you use, and why?