I like to think of myself as well-read, but I'm not too proud to admit that more than a few of the classics haven't landed on my reading list. Take Pride and Prejudice: It may be a widely loved novel, but for one reason or another, I've never cracked the spine on Jane Austen's look at marriage, money, and class divisions.
But I'm reading Pride and Prejudice now, and without the tale of love and marriage in and around Hertfordshire cutting into my gaming time. That's because No Crusts Interactive has taken Jane Austen's novel and turned it into an endless runner game called, appropriately enough, Stride & Prejudice.
The concept behind the game/ebook is as simple as Austen's prose is engaging. You control a pixelated Lizzy Bennet as she sprints across your iPhone or iPad screen. Lizzy's running on platforms of text--specifically, the text of Pride and Prejudice from start to finish. When breaks in the text appear--and they appear quite frequently--tap the screen to make Lizzy jump to the next block of text and avoid a fate worse than never winning Mr. Darcy's hand in marriage.
The game offers two modes--a survival mode in which you start at chapter one each time and a continuous reading version that remembers the spot in Pride and Prejudice where you let Lizzy fall to her untimely demise. A scoreboard not only keeps a running tally of your points but also of what percentage of the book you've completed.
It's not a terribly complex game--Lizzy has to overcome more obstacles in the book than she does in Stride & Prejudice--but it's a pretty clever idea, nonetheless, even if Pride and Prejudice doesn't initially seem to have much in common with the endless runner genre.
"We needed something that was public domain," said Carla Fisher of No Crusts Interactive. "2013 is the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice. The book has a wide and passionate following and has been the subject of other 'experiments,' most notably Pride and Prejudice and Zombies."
And never discount the value of a good pun, Fisher adds.
Fun to run
Combining a book with an endless runner may not do much to promote reading comprehension--I'd be hard-pressed to tell you a lot about the details of Pride and Prejudice other than it makes arch observations about class and there's a lot of jumping involved--but it's still a fun little mobile game. (And if I really wanted to soak in Austen's work, Stride & Prejudice lets me adjust the scrolling speed.)
Perhaps the game's greatest flaw is that this endless runner actually has an end: Once you reach the end of Pride & Prejudice, the game ends (albeit with a payoff for players who stuck it out). Fisher says it took her three-and-a-half-hours to complete the book on a fairly fast scrolling speed. "I died a lot," she says. "Turns out I'm not great at endless runners."
Could Stride & Prejudice start a trend of combining literary works with other gaming genres? Moby Dick as a first-person shooter? Catcher in the Rye as a massively multiplayer online game? Ender's Game as, well, Ender's game? For her part, Fisher says there may be an endless runner sequel in the future.
"We may start adding additional books, like Anna Ka-running-na and Frank-run-stein," she says.