Was talking to Paul Heitsch, who is a former video game composer, pianist, and sound designer, now also an audiobook reader. His first book project was my newest novel, which is being reviewed by Audiofile. He mentioned working on Riven, the sequel to MYST, which is the only game I’d ever been addicted to. It’s not a violent game or first person shooter; it’s more of an adventure and puzzle box, with a story behind it involving magical books which can transport you to other worlds, literally…and very strange worlds they are, indeed. You’re basically on your own, attempting to figure out what’s happening, with clues along the way. This is much like the plotting of a novel, containing both evil and good forces, your task being to discern the truth and make the right choice in a rescue. There was something about the atmospheric lighting and eerie yet oddly comforting music of MYST that attracted me. The light fixtures were unique creations by the game designers, not to mention the other-worldly sets, which contrasted from alien desert worlds to rainy ocean worlds with ancient shipwrecks, tunnels, and caves. There was much alien machinery to figure out, which had an antique look to it while being high tech. Some puzzles were maddeningly complex, requiring a peek at cheat sheets. The original MYST was one of the first bestselling video adventure games, and I remember reading that the designers scanned individual leaves into their computer to create the trees. Much of design now is automated and streamlined, and unfortunately gaming has become dominated by military plots or less believable incantation oriented fantasy. Today, in Japan and the U.S. video games dominate the time of teenagers. Is it all a waste? No, not completely, says Jane McGonigal, author of “Reality is Broken,” but boredom with the problems of real life (jobs, politics, environment, etc.) is driving a surge in gaming as teens look to escape the pressures and the consequences of the poor choices made by their parents and leaders. Maybe someone needs to create a series of video games that challenge players to reenter the real world and change it before it’s too late? Violence is not the solution, imagination is.