Australia's biggest gaming celebrity is now a novelist as well, as Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's new book, Mogworld, is released today. But you might have a hard time getting your hands on it anytime soon...
In Yahtzee's own words, "Mogworld is a comedic fantasy novel about a young man gradually discovering his role in life and the nature of his world. Specifically he's a low-level undead NPC in a near-future MMORPG. The AI has become self-aware without the programmers realising."
For years now, Yahtzee has been dishing out harsh, humorous criticism in his Zero Punctuation reviews. But now that he's pushing his own paperback, the often cynical Brit can expect some criticism of his own.
"I wouldn't say it's specifically aimed at [ZP fans] , but they'd certainly enjoy it, since it's about video games and my writing voice isn't dissimilar to ZP's style," says Yahtzee. "Really, I like to think anyone who likes fantasy, sci-fi and humour will be able to pick it up."
"I think building up my knowledge of games has helped, and all the time I spent writing ZP has given me a gift for colourful analogies which there are plenty of in the book. There's actually a very brief bit of Mogworld that's written as a game review, and my ZP voice switched on quite naturally as I wrote that."
But it's not all silly sword & board antics...
"I like to think it touches on some deep existential themes in between all the funny bits and monster fights."
Yahtzee has as big a following as anyone can hope to have in this little industry of ours - yet if a book set entirely within a game world can succeed, it says something about how big gaming has become.
And with Amazon's first print sold out, and Angus & Robertson projecting over four weeks in printing and shipping to get your hands on a copy, it would seem Mogworld's demand was underestimated. So was it hard to get published?
"Sure, if you count the actual act of writing it," he says. "It's very easy to start writing a book, and quite easy to finish writing one too, it's just all that stuff in the middle that becomes a slog. Getting it published was the easy bit. Dark Horse Books actually came to me asking if I wanted to write a book, and I just happened to have the first completed draft of Mogworld on hand, so there we go."
At the moment Mogworld is available for around $12.95, depending on where you shop. If you live in Brisbane, there's a launch event at the Mana Bar tonight, where you'll be able to grab a signed copy for $12.
So after making games, succeeding as a critic, owning a bar, and now writing a novel, what's next for Yahtzee?
"Making games again, probably, so it comes full circle. Novels were the life goal up to now, so I guess the new life goal is current-generation game development. There are too many committee-designed cash-counting mainstream games these days, I want to be in a position where I can be a true auteur, realise some visions, and help prove that video games can be an artist's medium. That's the dream, I guess."