Jakub SzamalekBy far, the global games industry is the largest slice of the entertainment business pie, with estimated worldwide revenues in 2016 of nearly $100 billion. Publishers, authors and readers often wonder if the rise of games and interactive media will lead to the extinction of reading and books. Author, educator and editor Michael Greer insists however that games have important lessons to share that will advance reading in a digital future.

This weekend in Portland, Oregon, as part of the annual PubWest 2017 Conference, Michael Greer joins CCC’s Chris Kenneally for a special presentation on “The Future of Storytelling.” Our guests – by way of video recordings – are Jakub Szamalek, an award-winning video game writer and novelist, born in Warsaw, Poland, and Karla Zimonja, co-founder of Fullbright, an independent video game studio in Portland.

As a special preview of the PubWest program, Beyond the Book is delighted to share a portion of Michael Greer’s interview with Jakub Szamalek. In 2012, Jakub joined CD PROJEKT RED, the Polish game developer behind the critically-acclaimed international bestseller Witcher franchise. He is also the author of a series of crime novels set in ancient Greece. He was educated at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and holds a Ph.D. classical archaeology.

Book publishers face a choice in 2017. Either they can view digital media as competition—adversaries in a battle for reader mindshare—or they can decide to view them as partners in the project of telling stories, educating readers, and engaging the imagination.

PubWest 2017“I’m absolutely convinced that books and games are not competitors and that people are likely to do both,” Szamalek tells Greer. “In Poland, at least, studies have shown that people who consume a lot of media consumed various [other] media. So, if you watch movies, if you watch TV series, if you read newspapers – if you’re engaged with the world of culture and you like learning or getting to know new stories – you will also read books. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a similar correlation in the U.S.”

Michael Greer has worked in higher education for over 20 years as an author, educator, and editor. He also serves on the advisory board for Gadget Software, working to develop a new mobile publishing platform for educational texts. Greer is a frequent past guest on Beyond the Book and an avid gamer as well.

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