Today we have the pleasure to introduce a new section – Living Room Conversations! The first visitor is our old friend Andrzej Sapkowski!
Not that he needs introduction, but: a classic of not only polish literature, but of world literature, Sapkowski is known by millions of people. The Polish fantasy writer and publicist has authored the Witcher series, as well as many critical literature essays and short stories. His books have been translated to numerous languages around the world.
We love pan (Mr.) Andrzej as a writer, and a person. Attached are some photos from the many times we’ve had the fortune to meet him at Kiev-area events. We first met him in 2005 during the “portal” convention, where Andrzej Sapkowski and Robert Sheckley were guests of honor. We, Marina and Sergey, were honorary Presidents of the “Portal” international fantasy writers association, which hosted this event in Kiev.
By a wonderful twist of fate, Sergey celebrated his 60th birthday on the 14th of April, the final day of festivities, and our friends combined the party with the traditional closing banquet for the convention. As a result, a magical jubilee was created with much merrymaking, humour, games, and congratulations. Andrzej Sapkowski was one of the guests of the unforgettable evening.
We remember pan Andrzej as a witty, insightful, and friendly person. He was especially popular among young women, who melted with the charm of his prose. However, let’s move on to the present day and get to the questions.
Recently, Sergey wrote a letter to pan Andrzej; here are some excerpts :
Personally, I am very angry with you. I’m thinking of suing you. Marina and I have deadlines looming, but it so happens that for her birthday in January we bought a Ps4 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt video game. Marina had already played the first two Witcher games and was very impressed with them. They are her favourite game franchise. My wife is a person of great self-control, and usually she can control the time she spends on video games. I was indifferent to video games, sticking to simple shooters or strategy games. Knowing myself to be easily addicted, I resisted the temptation for as long as I could. But here…. for several months in a row I played Wild Hunt, and then the DLCs “Hearts of Stone” and the recent “Blood and Wine”. I play it and I forget about time and space. Waking up in the morning, my first thought isn’t to kiss my wife or pet my cat, or even have breakfast, but to visit my good friend Geralt! It so happens that my ending to the Wild Hunt was tragic, and I was heartbroken. I still have the scar on my heart. At the same time I had to master the controller with its unwieldy joysticks, and try to decipher the English language. Several months! Who’s going to write the screenplays?
It would be just if you wrote a couple episodes for me, to somehow compensate for the damage. All in all, I would like to file a public complaint.
Online, I found contradicting reports on your attitude on video games. I understand these questions might pester you, but allow me to ask:
– How do you feel about The Witcher 3?
– How do you feel about video games in general?
and, if you’d allow, another question:
-What, good or bad, can you remember about Marina and Sergey Dyachenko?
And so, pan Sapkowski replied to us:
Marina and Sergey!
Forgive me for not responding right away, I’m very busy these days. Here are your questions:
– How do you feel about The Witcher 3?
Generally, I feel positive. Otherwise I would not have given them permission to use my work. I can’t say much about the game itself, since I haven’t played it and probably won’t. Computer games don’t really interest me. Time flies, and if I am to waste it, I know of better ways.
The Witcher 3 is known for its high quality, especially in the graphics department.
Sadly, though, the game brings some disappointment as well. There’s the opinion – likely held by the game creators themselves – that the video game is what made me famous in the West, and that’s simply not true. The premiere of the game happened in late October of 2007, but the contracts to publish my first books were signed ten years before that in German, six years in Spanish, five years in French, three years in Portuguese, and one year in English. Perhaps the game did help me somewhat, but it hurt me as well. Many publishers use the graphics as cover art. That is why many readers believed the game to be original, and I, Sapkowski, was writing books after the game. Serious fantasy fans don’t buy these books and then insult them. Currently I am fighting this and I don’t give permission to use the images from the game as cover art for my books.
– How do you feel about video games in general? Are they ever going to replace literature?
I’ve already answered this, somewhat: games do not interest me, and there are much better ways to entertain yourself: fishing, cooking, reading, writing… However, I have nothing against people who play games and enjoy them. I understand why the market is so large and how well it’s going to develop in the future. Can video games replace literature? What a thought! At first, I wanted to roar in protest – nowhere, no way, under no circumstances! But I thought about it, and I don’t know. Who can know?
– One more question, if you don’t mind. What good and bad things can you remember about Marina and Sergey Dyachenko?
Marina and Sergey! Do you know what I remember about our meeting in Kiev? How many friends you have. I’m jealous to this day. I’d like to have that many friends too. I do not have that same aura of friendliness and magnetism as you do. You are together, and all is well with you. I congratulate you heartily.
14 July 2016
Before, in 2012, in his interview in the magazine Eurogamer, before The Wild Hunt came out, Andrzej said:
“The book itself is the point of origin, the result of the unique and unmistakable talent of the author. Carry that over into the virtual world? Impossible.”
“If you compare books and their adaptations into other areas, only the former (the books) are capable of telling an actual story.”
As we can see, pan Andrzej has not changed his views. But let me disagree with many of them. We are sure that The Witcher games, especially Wild Hunt and its extensions, have become the number one game in the world not jsut because of its outstanding graphics. The catch is that the game is based on genius novels. It has what separates Sapkowski’s prose from the rest – vivid characters, unpredictable narrative, juicy details, and his characteristic ironic humour. The tangled twists of the storyline don’t feel forced; they flow from the psychologically accurate character relationships.
Until recently, we ourselves were certain that video games were nothing more than entertainment. But Wild Hunt and its extensions, contrary to what their inspiration might think, are a new form of art: the merging of literature, film and games. It rises above other games like a mountain above empty plains. It is out future. It’s like being at the premiere screening of “train arriving at a station” by the Lumiere brothers in 1895. There were films afterwards that were written sloppily, naively, and cheap, but after some time it created film as we know today.
Thank you for that, pan Andrzej.
What do you think, dear readers?
Marina and Sergey
Videogames are just like comics or animation, bastard children of more established forms of art, not well known and even worse considered by those who, simply, do not know them. Just as many people consider fantasy novels as a waste of time, and point out other genres as “better”.
So that argument that Sapkowski wields is a double edged sword.
Videogames will never replace writing, but they are a unique form of art and a great storytelling medium in its own right.