At this point, it would be redundant to mention that video games are more influential than ever. Even without the unprecedented sales and number of players, games are everywhere, even when they aren’t games. Once upon a time a successful franchise was lucky if it could get a kids cartoon or maybe a background shot in a movie. But now even modestly received games are spreading into novels, comic series, anime, table top games, and films. Blizzard even holds an annual writing contest for fans that want to contribute to their favourite game’s lore. But a byproduct of these “extended universes” is games that are contracted and simplified. The original work of art—the game—is left shallower because the deeper layers are reserved for other, more established media.
It should be said that a work of art that migrates across media is not a bad thing; it wouldn’t make much sense to complain about the multiplicity of media in a multimedia column. There are a number of reasons to expand a game into other art forms. It makes obvious business sense and no medium ought to restrict its content just because other media explored a concept first. But games face a danger in dealing strictly with action and leaving all the characterization and drama up to novels, comics, or other means of storytelling. Game developers ought to have enough faith in their games to tell a complete and self-contained story without having to fall back on novels to tell the story for them.