Guest Post: “One RPG at a Time” by Kristi Charish + GIVEAWAY of Owl and the Japanese Circus

*** The giveaway is now over, thank you to everyone who entered! *** 

Today, we’re very excited to welcome author Kristi Charish to talk about a topic that all of us at the BiblioSanctum happen to be quite passionate about too — VIDEO GAMES! Kristi’s book, Owl and the Japanese Circus will be available on January 13, 2015 from Simon & Schuster Canada and Pocket Star. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our review! Now on to the fun!

by Kristi Charish

Owl and the Japanese CircusI love video games. Especially RPGs. Ever since a roommate way back in my undergrad days introduced me to Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights I’ve been a hooked, loyal RPG convert. Sci-Fi, Adventure, Fantasy- doesn’t really matter what genre, if there’s a story to be had I’m in.

A lot of different pieces of media influence my writing (Indiana Jones and the Mummy are two of my biggest) but in a lot of ways my venture into those first RPG video games set me on the writing path in a way movies, traditional video games, and table top role playing games never could. To this day when I need a quick kick in the proverbial writing ass to get back on track, my first go to isn’t a book or movie; it’s an RPG video game. Video games have the ability to immerse me in a story the way no other medium out there can and it’s a shame they don’t get enough credit for it.

Credit where Credit is Due

I’m not going to mince words here. I feel very strongly that some of the best Sci-Fi and Fantasy produced over the past decade has come from the video game corner, though you’ll be hard pressed to get many writers to admit that. The Mass Effect series (Bioware) is arguably one of the best pieces of science fiction writing and storytelling around, yet if you look at the Hugo awards there are slots for movies, TV, fiction, Fanzines, even art, but no videogames. To me that says a lot about the reception video games have gotten from the writing community as a valid storytelling medium, and in my humble opinion it’s a massive oversight. Though video games are still the relatively new kid on the storytelling block, they’ve fast become one of the most influential mediums out there. Blockbuster video game audiences (Call of Duty and Halo anyone?) are reaching the levels of blockbuster movies. Over the years the storytelling has evolved by leaps and along with the voice acting and animated cut scenes. The games that result are that much more immersive and engaging and in ways movies and books can’t come close to.

Video games, particularly some of the RPGs (like some of the Dragon Age and the Final Fantasy entries to name a few), are fast becoming one of the most emotionally engaging interactive experiences on the planet. And they’re just getting started. With the oculus rift looming on the horizon video games promise to become that much more immersive.

It’s a Brave new Storytelling Medium Out There

There are things you can do with story in video games that can’t be done in other mediums. The visual and audio component allows for a greater immersive experience as well as cold drops into the story, delivering information about the environment and setting without the use of text. And while film accomplishes a similar effect, movies and TV have a defined narrative time length and pace that can’t be altered. Video games veer from that script by giving the player flexibility to immerse them in the set story narrative or take their time and look around. There’s more you can communicate to the viewer in those breaks and they have control over what they decide to spend their time on, changing the equation and giving we, the audience, more options then ever before as to how we take our story.

Then there’s the vested interest. Whether the character is fully realized (DA 2 Hawke) or a cipher (DAI) I’m more emotionally involved with the character I play than in any movie or book. I can’t help it; I’m playing through their eyes. And then there’s the romance. Dragon Age Origins was the first time I sat up and paid attention to a romance line in a game. Sure there’d been attempts at romance in games before (NWN2, BG2) but they’d universally felt forced, just another way to gain a few XP points and pass the time in between quests with somewhat interesting story filler. That changed when Dragon Age Origins came on the scene. All of a sudden I cared where the romance was going. With streamlined dialogue, believable story arcs, and character development, for the first time ever I believed the in game romance sub plots. Not interested in Romance? No problem, you can choose not to participate or just skip the cut scenes. Again, that choice and personalization thing.

Games aren’t perfect and they’re certainly not a replacement for books and movies, but make no doubt about it. They’re a powerful storytelling tool we’ve just seen the start of…which reminds me, I’ve got a writing inspiration session scheduled with Final Fantasy XII 🙂

* * *


Kristi FB HSKristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Jan 13th, 2015, Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. The second installment, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, is scheduled for release Jan 2016. Her second urban fantasy series, KINCAID STRANGE (Random House Canada), about a voodoo practioner living in Seattle, is scheduled for release mid 2016.

Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.

* * *


Owl and the Japanese Circus

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! The BiblioSanctum is pleased to host a giveaway for Owl and the Japanese Circus. Up for grabs is one print copy of the book for residents of the US/Canada, OR a digital copy for International entrants. To enter, all you have to do is send an email to using the subject line “OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS” with your Name and valid Mailing Address (for US/Canada) or Email Address (for International) by 11:59pm Eastern time on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.

Only one entry per household, please. The winner will be randomly selected when the giveaway ends and then be notified by email. All information will only be used for the purposes of contacting the winner and sending them their prize. Once the giveaway ends all entry emails will be deleted.

So what are you waiting for? Enter now for your chance to win! Good luck!

25 Comments on “Guest Post: “One RPG at a Time” by Kristi Charish + GIVEAWAY of Owl and the Japanese Circus”

    • There’s still a stigma around them, but as more of the gaming industry moves into the mainstream (GamerGate aside), people are starting to realize just how far they’ve come.

      On a professional development retreat with some co-workers, I introduced them to the trailer for Beyond Two Souls. They had no idea the stories could run so deep, and seeing actors they recognized playing the roles gave it a lot of legitimacy in their eyes. I’ve also encouraged fans of shows like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones to check out Telltale Games interactive stories. They are very story heavy and less game play, but still just as emotionally involving.

      And yes…. BioWare…


      • Wendy, I love Telltale and was going to mention them but ran out of space!:-) I’m looking forward to their Game of Thrones. And there really has been a huge jump in storytelling capabilities of games- I think as you point out views are changing!


          • Mogsy, I’m also itching to play Borderlands for Telltale. I’ve got really high hopes!


        • There’s always enough space to chat about video games 😉 The first episode of Game of Thrones was veeery interesting.

          I’m horribly obsessed with BioWare though, so I’m always happy to find more of their fans. One of us. One of Us.

          If you’re on Steam, etc. Be sure to add me as “nightxade” 🙂


          • Hey Wendy- will do! Yeah, I pretty well play anything BioWare puts out, though I thought DAI was an interesting addition story wise. Good to know about Game of Thrones- will move it up in my que!


    • Hi Tabitha! Yeah, it really gets me that a lot (but not all!) writers are so fast to write off video games just because it’s new and different. There’s a lot of innovative stuff happening and if you ignore it, you get left behind!


  1. Great post! Video games are an excellent source of inspiration, and every year, they seem to only get better and better, and they are such dynamic, highly immersive forms of storytelling. I’m glad they’re starting to gain some traction and be recognized as such.


  2. Kristi Charish is making the rounds! Good, because her book deserves much love. I don’t rack up the video games hours quite like I used to, but I still enjoy playing a good RPG from time to time when I can pry #1 away from his current Final Fantasy addiction.

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads


    • I am making the rounds Carmel! 🙂 I watch a lot of videogames as well- with one PS4 it’s unavoidable. I find I prefer watching a game being played over TV now…and now that more Final Fantasy games are being ported onto my iPad;-)


  3. Everybody in my household plays games except me! Mainly because I wouldn’t get a look in – which is why I just stick to the books! In the past I’ve had a tendency to become a bit addicted when I played on games and found I couldn’t leave them alone – so I stay away now!!
    Lynn 😀


  4. It’s times like this that I wish I was a gamer! I do believe video games are just another way to tell stories, otherwise why would they be so popular? Loved your book, Kristi!


    • Writing in video games has come a long way. BioWare is definitely one of the masters – I bawled like a baby at the end of Dragon Age: Origins, that’s how deeply the story touched me. Then there was their MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, but I think Funcom has got them beat there with The Secret World. Lots of good stuff out there if you’re looking!


    • Thanks Tammy:-)
      Yeah, I think the issue with video games and aceptance is people have a tendency to balk at anything new (ie:those crazy kids and their TV). They’re a great sign of how our methods of communication are changing- mixing visual cues (ie: cold drops) with text and dialogue to communicate a larger interactive picture- and thats translating over to writing, where authors can now use cold drop techniques on the page and know a large portion of their audience will pick up the cues:-)


  5. Another awesome post from Kristi 😀 I adore video games too but since we moved I haven’t hauled out all my games…yet. Winter is usually the time I end up playing like mad though so it shouldn’t be too long now 😀 Oh and I agree: video games do NOT get enough credit as amazing stories in their own right! Thanks for sharing Mogsy^^


  6. I’m not a gamer, it’s just never been my thing, but my guy plays a ton of the RPGs mentioned. He usually plays while I read on the couch, so I often see the storylines unfold, and I agree that they’re definitely an important storytelling medium. Even some video games like Bioshock Infinite which isn’t an RPG (unless I’m mistaken?) have some very cool SFF elements, like steampunk tech.

    Also, I just noticed that Kristi Charish went to SFU. Is she Canadian? 😀


    • Hey Dayna,
      Yes, I’m a Canadian author! Bioshock is a great example of a FPS (first person shooter) with a strong storyline and another great piece of science fiction up there with Mass Effect. Two other fantastic examples are Far Cry 4 and Uncharted. I liked watching a friend play Uncharted more than I like most movies 🙂 It’s not only the RPG’s that use story to drive the game anymore.


  7. Great post, and I completely agree that gaming is a legit storytelling platform. Really–what could be better than interactive stories, which is essentially what RPGs are (among other things). The problem (for me) is that unlike a book that eventually ends, RPGs . . . don’t. Even if you (temporarily, b/c expansions) level your player as high as you can, there are always quests to complete, treasure to loot, enemy strongholds to destroy, etc. There’s no definitive end point, and I CANNOT stop playing, LOL. It was a problem . . .


  8. Pingback: #RRSciFiMonth: Getting Our SciFi Game on With Brianna Shrum and Kristi Charish | The BiblioSanctum

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