Jen Alexander can pull inspiration from anywhere. She loves creepy things. Anything is fair game. Films like The Road and Æon Flux and shows like Dollhouse all played a part in creating how she writers – and what she writes about. The self-described video game enthusiast loved Final Fantasy XIII and its hero Lightning. And while all contributed to writing The Aftermath, the original idea came in a much simpler fashion.
In a dream.
“It terrified me. I asked myself what would happen if technology and gaming advanced to the point where humans could play other humans in a game as a therapeutic solution,” said Alexander.
The Aftermath takes place in 2036, where Claudia and a group of survivors roam a desolate Nashville. They face dwindling water and food supplies and must fight cannibalistic Hoards to save their lives.
But worst of all, they’re players in a video game, controlled by other people.
The idea behind this dystopia can put anyone on edge – but gamers like Alexander are familiar with the creepy desolate landscape of gaming. Popular games like The Walking Dead: Season 1 and The Last Of Us feature dystopian worlds where monsters run rampant and players must fight for their lives.
“I’d say [a video game of The Aftermath would be]a cross between The Last of Us, Assassin’s Creed – the parts that are focused on Desmond Miles and not his ancestors when he uses the Animus – and a dash of Prototype.”
But dystopian games aren’t the only ones she plays. Alexander indulges in a number of games across different platforms – and her love of Final Fantasy XIII is just the tip of her gaming iceberg.
“Kratos – the antihero from the God of War franchise – is my favorite video game character ever,” said Alexander. “My all-time favorite platform is probably either the PlayStation 2 or the PlayStation 3 – sorry, PS4 and Xbox One! One of my best friends swears it’s because the PS2 and PS3 have been out for so long, but they were both awesome consoles.”
But no console can stand up to the living, breathing console that is Claudia’s world in The Aftermath – and when she meets Declan, who claims to be one of the game’s moderators, everything changes, and she must choose between the world she knows or the safety he offers.
“[If my characters were gamers,] Declan would probably go for a shooter game like Halo or Call of Duty, but I can imagine Claudia going for those games where you really have to stop and think. Like the games from the Prince of Persia franchise,” said Alexander.
And with such different personalities – and gaming styles – who knows what world Claudia will choose?