Videogames and novels aren’t usually the best of bedfellows. But I’ve been a fan of Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and many other successful films, ever since I first read his first novel, The Beach, at the tender age of 16. The way The Beach’s narrator speaks about videogames like Street Fighter 2 affectionately was icing on the cake of a really great book. Re-reading the novel recently, I was pleased to discover that it’s undimmed by the passing of time and my growing older. It’s still great stuff, fast-paced pulpy fiction that reads like cinema but without that distance that films have (you know, the distance that allows you as the viewer to voice judgments like “wow, that Leonardo di Caprio is annoying”, for example). As well as enjoying a finely spun yarn for the first time in several years, I was also able to re-appreciate (real word?) those well-done references to videogames that appear in certain parts.
The film adaptation of The Beach made in 2000 and directed by Danny Boyle, also included a brief nod to videogames in a short sequence modeled on Crash Bandicoot which doesn’t appear in the book: