PREVIEWSworld Video Game Month: Anna Powers

Video games have often been considered the “enemy” of comics, drawing readers away from comics for the glow of arcade and home screens. But somewhere along the way, video games became fodder for the comics, drawing gamers away from their screens and back to the four-color page!

Years later, they’re seemingly inseparable now, with dozens of video game-based comics on the market.

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PREVIEWSworld: What are you currently working on?

Anna Powers: I’m currently working on the Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days novel, as well as Final Fantasy VII: On the Way to a Smile.

PREVIEWSworld: What video game properties are you working on right now, or have you worked on in the past?

Anna Powers:  I’ve worked on the Kingdom Hearts novels, starting with Kingdom Hearts II, and I’m very excited to be working on the Final Fantasy novels now.

PREVIEWSworld: Are you a PC or console gamer?  Which console do you prefer?

Anna Powers:  I’m more of a console gamer. I grew up on the Playstation series and its JRPGs, so my favorite is definitely the PS4!

PREVIEWSworld: What video game started your passion for gaming? 

Anna Powers:  Final Fantasy VIII was my first video game and one of my first encounters with media from Japan. It was so different from any other story I’d experienced before, and I had no idea what was going to happen next. I was sucked in pretty much from the get-go. Even as a kid, I used to write about the story and characters and what they meant to me. I’ve played most of the numbered Final Fantasy games at this point, and the series has always had a special place in my heart.

PREVIEWSworld: What current release is taking up your free time?

Anna Powers: Right now, I’m neck-deep in NieR:Automata. It’s such a brilliant, thoughtful game made with so much attention to the storytelling potential of the medium, and probably the most emotionally immersive experience I’ve had with a game.

PREVIEWSworld: How is telling a story in a video game different that telling a story in a comic? How are they the same?

Anna Powers:  358/2 Days is an interesting example to look at since the story exists across several media now. One advantage the game has is that you're able to naturally form relationships with the characters just through fighting alongside them. The last act of Days, especially the ending, hits like a brick after you've spent so long helping and working together with the main protagonists.

On the other hand, print media like manga and novels aren’t restricted by the expectation of gameplay or technological limitations. Days is focused more on character drama than journeying to save the worlds, so it's easy to include additional conversations or other character moments without potentially making players feel like they aren't doing anything. And the novel easily delves into the characters’ internal world and fleshes out their thoughts and motivations — and since the game involves questions of identity and what it means to have a heart, there's quite a bit of that.

As for similarities, the visual language is probably the strongest tie I see between games and comics — things like frame composition and art style obviously play a huge part of creating the tone and impact of a scene. And from a broader perspective, some of the most famous long-running game and comic series are constantly reinventing iconic characters by exploring new contexts with them.

PREVIEWSworld: Who is your favorite character from a video game and why?

Anna Powers: My favorite character would have to be Riku, again from Kingdom Hearts. Riku has grown and matured so much, from being frustrated and jealous to full of self-doubt to having faith in his best friends and himself, and the longevity of KH's narrative is a major part of that. His struggle with the darkness within himself has been an inspiration to me ever since Chain of Memories over ten years ago — at this point, it feels like he’s grown up with me! I can’t wait to see where his arc will take him in Kingdom Hearts III.

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