This week's assigned reading was The Hobbit, which I had already enjoyed reading once before. One of the things that I found most impressive, as well as most fun to read, about this book as well as The Lord of the Rings trilogy was the huge world that Tolkein created in his stories. In any form of media, be it book or film or game, I am always a sucker for a story within a believable universe.
Tolkein's Middle-Earth is such a believable world that when I read his books, I feel like I am reading one small piece of history that has taken place in the vast timeline of this world. He leads me to believe that there is much more to this world, and that I am not aware of it only because he choses not to tell it to me. In many ways, he creates this feeling by referencing events or stories that have taken place before the books, and even taking the time to explain the history of certain places or people.
As I already knew the story of The Hobbit, I chose to read some of the essays posted online by Michael L. Martinez. These were all explanations of the peoples and times of Middle-Earth. I was particularly fascinated by the timeline Martinez included in one of his last essays. The amount of information he was able to gather from Tolkein's books is very impressive; almost as impressive as the fact that Tolkein created this world to begin with!
I recently attended a presentation given by Jordan Weisman, a game designer who explained how he went about doing just this; creating fantastical yet believable worlds. Seeing this obvious connection between these huge universes that I love in fiction and what will be required of me in my future of game designing greatly excited and inspired me. And, of course, I completely understand why a good game, or any piece of fiction, needs to take place in a realistic fantasy world. Tolkein's deep stories, as well as any really believable fiction, allow for the viewer to, as Tolkein himself said, escape their own world for another, stranger, more exciting one.
This is what I, and millions of other readers, movie-goers, and gamers, love to see in our media.