Of my first seven novels, Gamer Army started with the roughest of rough drafts and underwent the most significant changes on the way to its final version. Its first revision was a ground—up complete rewrite, a total re-imagination of the story’s major characters, plot, and action. In the later stages of work on the book, Gamer Army was one of the most fun to work on—top two. In short, Gamer Army started out, in its earliest working phases, as one of my worst books, but quickly transformed into one of my best.
One of the challenges I faced when I began writing Gamer Army was the certain fact that I was more than a few years behind on video games. Growing up, I had a Nintendo Entertainment System with games like Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda. In high school, I enjoyed the Super Nintendo with F-zero, Contra III, and more Zelda. Later, I bought a computer and spent long happy hours playing Warcraft II and Star Trek Armada II. After that, I became wrapped up in school, war, work, and writing, and spent many years apart from gaming. “Rogan doesn’t read like a twelve-year-old gamer,” my editor said after reading the first draft of Gamer Army. “You’re gonna need to buy an X-box.”
That’s exactly what I did. I bought an X-box with plenty of Halo, Call of Duty, and eventually Star Wars Battlefront II. I have limited internet capability where I live, so I even took my X-box to a friend’s house to enable me to slip on the headset and go online to play Halo with some of my grown-up former students. North English Knights! Upgrading to modern games was quite an adjustment for me. I was repeatedly annihilated fighting against others in round after round of Halo team slayer competition. I discovered modern gaming is fun! I went back to revise Gamer Army.
Having had so much fun with the Xbox, and having read a lot about virtual reality, I decided to take my gaming a step further, and together with a friend, purchased an Oculus Rift virtual reality system. I played games like Superhot and Robo Recall. Wow! This will change the world! This was less playing a game and more living a totally different and amazing life. Knowing that Gamer Army would be set in the future, and realizing virtual reality is the future of video games, I went back to another major revision in the book.
I love the result. The ultimate gaming adventure set in various places around the world with the lines between game and reality blurring in fascinating ways. It’s video games, virtual reality, robots, artificial intelligence, and a whole lot of action in a book that, I hope, offers readers a great time even as it encourages them to think carefully about the role of technology in our lives.