Andrezj Sapkowski, the man behind the books that inspired one of the world’s biggest RPGs, has made no bones about his opinions on videogames in the past. He has stated outright that he believes they’re a lesser medium for stupid people. Could this be correlated to the fact that Sapkowski doesn’t actually make any money from them, as he chose a one-off payment for the rights instead of going for some of those sweet-ass royalties? Almost definitely.
In a recent interview with VICE Sapkowski had a fairly straightforward and honest conversation in which he explains that he has been given the short end of the stick, and he doesn’t believe that the games signpost his role as the creator of Geralt and co as blatantly as they should. Is this a fair gripe, or just a man who’s bitter about his ignorance of the game’s success costing him a major payout? Sapkowski goes on to say that the games had nothing to do with the success of his books outside of Poland, as all of the English translations were available before the first game came out (not necessarily true there as the first game debuted in 2008 and The Last Wish, the first English collection of short Witcher stories, was available in 2007). I, for one, discovered the books through the games, because, y’know… Google. So perhaps Sapkowski owes more to gaming than he thinks.
As an interesting contrast, Metro 2033 writer Dmitri Glukhovsky had some opinions about Sapkowski’s gripes, calling him out in spectacular fashion. “I think that he’s totally wrong, and that he’s an arrogant motherfucker”. Well then. “Without the gaming franchise, the Witcher series would never get this crazy international readership that it has. And it’s not just about the gamers but the gaming press and the buzz it creates, and just the feeling of something great and massive and impressive coming out. This got people hooked. He would remain a local Eastern European phenomenon without this, but he would never break into the West. And the same goes for my Metro books.”
Any interview with Sapkowski is fascinating to read – he’s a direct and extremely intelligent man (who has written perhaps the best fantasy series of our time) so definitely check the full article out for some insights into the mind behind the Witcher. If you love the games and haven’t gotten around to reading the books yet, I highly recommend them. They’re unlike any Western fantasy literature you’ve ever read, Sapkowski is a master at his craft, and they add so much extra colour to the adaptations.