The Witcher series has become something of a multimedia monster of late; the original books were cult classics in the world of fantasy literature, but when they spawned a trilogy of best-selling video games, the series and its characters took on a whole new level of fame.
We've now got a Witcher Netflix series (the company's most successful TV show launch ever) which, in turn, has caused sales of Witcher 3 video game to rise, five years after it originally launched.
You'd think all of this would make Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski – the creator of The Witcher books – a very happy man indeed, but he's traditionally been quite dismissive of attempts to adapt his work into other forms of entertainment.
Although he has recently signed a new deal with CD Projekt for the rights to make games based on the world of the Witcher, in a candid new interview with io9 he reveals that is still firmly of the belief that video games and TV shows cannot encroach on or impact the original source material, which, he believes, will always be the most important part of the puzzle:
I cannot compare anything to video games, because I have never played any. Since I was a kid I haven’t played any games—with a possible exception of bridge and poker. Video games are simply not for me, I prefer books as entertainment. Anyway, in my opinion TV series and video games—any of them—cannot be compared. They are too different in approach, making—and objective. You cannot compare spaghetti carbonara with a bicycle. Even though both have advantages and disadvantages.
When pressed on his opinion of the Netflix series, he says: "My name appears in the credits. I cannot praise the show. It wouldn’t be decent", before adding he would be "an idiot" to discuss what he felt didn't successfully translate to the show. When asked how he felt about the news that the Netflix series had triggered a 500,000 copy reprint of his books, he replied:
How do you expect I answer this question? That I despaired? Shed tears? Considered suicide? No sir. My feelings were rather obvious and not excessively complex.
When quizzed about if he was looking forward to seeing season two of the series, he signed off with a trademark Sapkowski comment:
Allow me to quote Joe Abercrombie, the author whose books are very much to my liking: “Life is, basically, f*****g shit. Best to keep your expectations low. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Ahem. You could say Sapkowski has something of a reputation when it comes to these kind of comments. Back in 2012, he lamented the mixing pot of entertainment mediums to Eurogamer:
I realise that current times accustom us - which I find terrible - to the strange convergence of media and the freedom of mixing them. To me as a writer, the idea to write 'adjuvant content' and create something 'complementary' to a game or a comic is an absolute pinnacle of idiocy.
He has also, in the past, spoken of his fear that adaptations of the Witcher books will almost erase him from the picture – a fear that was embedded when someone mistakenly assumed he was writing books about a video game universe, and not the other way around:
I can remember my reaction: I know many bad words and I used all of them, in many languages. In 20 years, somebody will ask, 'Witcher, the game - and who's the author?" No one will know.
Do you think that Sapkowski has a point here? How would you feel if you created an entire fantasy universe, only to see it adapted into other new-fangled entertainment mediums which go on to gain more fame than the original books? Share your thoughts below.
[source io9.gizmodo.com, via gonintendo.com]
I'll hand it to Sapkowski that some of the questions were very boring, but damn does he do his best to come off as a prick in those other non-gaming-related questions.
Good to know that even when he’s making money, he’s still a complete tw*t.
Books are simply not for me! I've never read a single one based on the witcher. I just saw this cool looking open world game with a bad ass looking guy with a sword and said hey that looks fun!
He seems like quite the miserable git. Still, his mention of Joe Abercrombie gets a +1 from me.
So basically Geralt's personality is just founded upon his own...nothing to be surprised here
I think I'm in the minority here in coming away from that interview feeling quite amused. He clearly doesn't care a great deal about much, which is fine as far as I'm concerned.
The games and TV Series have encouraged more to buy the books, at least he has acknowledged that.
He does sound like an old man angry at the kids for not knowing any better when he talks about video games. Though he is right to say that books and video games are worlds apart. It’s annoying to see people comparing movies, video games, and novels all the time when they all should be treated as entirely different.
@ShaiHulud that quote did solicit a chuckle from me as well.
I bet his most hated food is humble pie, and his favourite dish is anything hand-fed, preferably bloodied by his own haphazard gnashing.
His fear about being forgotten as an author is understandable. I bought the first 2 Witcher books, will have to find time to read them.
Ok, but what about the "Thronebreaker has arrived to Switch eshop" news, Nintendolife? I think it's a bit more important than this, lol
Hmm he’s a regular little ray of sunshine isn’t he 😬. Video games and TV are clearly not his thing, and that’s fine, I would also say it’s admirable that he allowed the adaptations to be made considering his personal feelings BUT maybe that’s because he enjoys the money coming from them?
I have always had a ‘don’t knock it until you try it’ attitude though, and I wonder if he has seen either or played the game even a little? I think he needs to be careful about speaking about them negatively if he hasn’t. I totally understand that The Witcher universe is his baby, letting it go must be difficult, but he allowed that to happen, he should be proud that it’s so well loved!
Maybe I come at it with a little of my own bias though. I have just graduated and would LOVE to get a story published and would kill to write for video games, I’m not precious about one media being better than the other, and he seems to be unwilling to look past the page when it comes to creativity.
Being married to a Polish girl I can safely say that Sapkowski’s bluntness is a national trait 😏
Conversely if you see Sapkowski on the Netflix interviews he seems a bit more diplomatic than he comes across in this interview.
We do have to remember that he is not a native English speaker so a lot may be lost when he tries to communicate in English.
I’ve read the books - courtesy of my wife - and that actually has me excited for Witcher 3 (which I’ll buy at the end of the year).
Speaking of comparing books/movies to videogames don't you hate it when you try to buy a mature rated videogame and you're getting carded for your age like it's cigarettes or something? If you try buying an R rated movie nobody bats an eye but a mature game and they start asking questions.
I'm over 40 and still get these gamestop klerks asking for ID. It's infuriating! Regular department stores don't seem to care as much. Oh won't somebody please think of the children! 😒
Considering that guys age i can see why he's not into games. He's from before they had all that stuff. Just playing with sticks and reading books. Maybe the occasional round of jacks. Lame. Glad i was born after all the cool stuff started existing!
After reading this I can believe he wrote The Witcher.
He answered as almost all authors of books/comics when asked about their work translated to another media. Stop asking those stupid questions, specially if they are happy with the increase of the sells on the original media. The reporters will always become such answers.
Respect for the guy just for knowing what carbonara is. The man has taste, I tells ya.
(For those who don't know, it's basically pasta with some bacon cubes and eggs in, followed by - depending on who you ask, as Northern Italy and Southern Italy vary a bit on how the dish is made - cooking cream or pecorino cheese. It taste a lot better than it sounds either way.)
He sounds exactly like the Polish guy at my work.
Like Haggis right?
Chopped heart and lungs boiled in a wee sheep's stomach!
@AlexSora89 I don't know where you from but I'd say carbonara is one of the staple pasta dishes here in the UK. (I do fancy eating it for lunch now!)
I red all the books and played Witcher 3 after. Great stuff. I liked how the genuine ,,vibe" of books was incorporated in the game. He created rich world and characters, but i personaly find missing some depth that would made it much better. Best example would be Dune from Frank Herbert. He sounds like a d...k btw.
@AlexSora89 Don't forget grounded black pepper, this is a really important part of the dish.
I don't know how people born before the 70's and 80's didn't go mad from boredom. Sounds like really uneventful times. To quote my favorite parody artist Weird al!
"didn't have no dental floss had to use old rusty nails. Didn't have Nintendo we just poured salt on snails"
Classic snob old man. I will say it how many times it is needed. If it wasn't by the games he wouldn't even be known by now and we wouldn't have the netflix series. Before the games he was popular in the inner circles of underground in eastern europe which is already underground by itself. Won't argue the quality of his work, but if he thinks it sells on itself in any way, he is mistaken.
And that's the reason I haven't read the books yet. I just can't get myself to give money to this pr*ck.
People are too use to westerners who hide what they want to say, and simply say what others WANT to hear. Slavs especially are very blunt in letting you know things. Doesn't make them a pr*ck or rude. My gf is Bosnian and still lives there. I had to adapt quick to how blunt she can be....and I'm part Croatian/Polish (born/raised in the west however).
I feel the same way about books as he does with games. Each to their own
I really dislike this guy's attitude.
I don’t particularly like the guy, but I have to agree with him, at least in more general terms when comparing books with TV/Film and video games.
Nothing can compare with books when it comes to building a real, living world with real, believable characters. For the simple reason that books, especially a series of books, contains days or even weeks’ worth of world building, dialogue, character development and plot. Even story driven video games don’t come close.
But I enjoy all three types of medium though. I just wish I had more time to play games!
No disrespect intended, but the Witcher author sounds just a tad like a curmudgeonly grandpa that doesn’t like new stuff or changes in life.
That's ok. I feel that his books are the weakest of the three despite being the source material from which the other two were made.
I get it. The man has to eat so sure he licensed out his work because just like most creative jobs unless you are popular you might as well be unemployed. I’m sure seeing his work twisted and interpreted perhaps in ways he didn’t intend could be dismaying and frustrating. Also good on him for championing the written word. I love games but books will always be better imo. I’m somewhat excited though because I find the witcher game universe to be very dull. So maybe I will like the books more.
So he is not only greedy but not very likable in general also
@the_beaver This, you mean?
@Damo Yeah, I was surprised you mentioned this news before that one hahah. I've already commented there 😇
Bet this guy is fun at parties.
I do sort of like how honest and unapologetically abrasive he is.
I'm from Italy, which is kind of carbonara's homeland. Sadly, English cooks' understanding of carbonara, er, boiling down to (I couldn't resist the egg pun) cooking an egg on top of the pasta - while rare - is not unheard of either.
However, this might well be a misconception on my part, based on a Facebook post I've come across - a Whatsapp screenshot of an Italian girl in London sending her mom a photo of the dish I've just described, with the mother replying "I'm giving you plane tickets tomorrow". I'm not implying everyone outside Italy "gets it wrong" when it comes to cooking Italian stuff, just voicing my fellow countrymen's tendency to be extremely nitpicky when it comes to food.
Fun game for ya - mention pineapple pizza among Italians, especially Neapolitans. Watch the ensuing fireworks with popcorn at the ready.
Love it, someone actually saying what they mean, instead of skirting around.
Not knowing the author and the origin is entirely on audiences, not adaptation creators - and living in the information age (let alone supposedly 30 more years into it) strips most of the remaining excuses. A baffling number of people are surprised to learn that Howl's Moving Castle is based on a western author's book, but in what universe is it the problem of the movie?
Sapkowski's worries may be fueled somewhat by the asinine fan buzz like "the books wouldn't even be all that widely known without the games" (read: without the Witcher 3 because a lot of its fans don't even bother playing the rest), although sounds preposterous from the viewpoint of Fiction resonance. The books already scored their audience in and outside Poland through the decades they were released in; they sold their share, they earned shoutouts in other writers' books and they had enough impact to inspire the creation of the games in question (not to mention a Polish TV show years before the Netflix gig). Obscure in the west? Well, Polish video games weren't always common in the western audiences' attention scope either. And for all the taken liberties that almost always characterize adaptations (after all, that's much of their whole point), it was still an existent fictionverse, an existing elaborate lore, history, cast that the games built their plots and gameplay on from the start. It's not the loosely inspired Frozen whose 'Snow Queen' elements can be counted on one hand - it's an amalgam of two different canons and visions. In the reality beyond the dim narrow world of fanship, The Witcher books have done as much for The Witcher games as The Witcher games have done for The Witcher books.
I'm sure he finds the money made from licensing to CD Projekt Red for the games and Netflix for the first successful screen adaptation spends just as well as that made from his books alone. 😁
It's more than a little narrow minded to write off an entire medium without having experienced it for yourself though. Its obvious he is tired of answering those sorts of questions, but if I were a successful author whose works were adapted into a different medium I'd take at least a cursory glance. Tom Clancy actually turned things full circle and wrote books based on the game based on his original books so it's pretty obvious he's at least tried a few of them, and is quite supportive of gaming as a whole. Wouldn't kill Andrzej to at least try one, or watch a Cavill Netflix episode, before pooh-poohing the whole lot.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to see if I can eat my carbonara while riding my bicycle.
I have read The Witcher books in the nineties, when they were published first time. Loved it, I considered it to be some of best fantasy out there. Also it draws a lot from Slavic tales and legends, which speaks to me as a Czech guy.
But, unfortunatelly Sapkowski is a well known alcoholic and prick. Even back at those times, when he was a guest to a convention, his talks were pretty arrogant and not funny.
Then he licensed Witcher to CD Project for a fixed sum (and pretty low) for the videogames adaptation, not believing it would do well. Once the games became a global hit, he sued CD Project, wanting more money, and he lost...
I'm not surpirsed by his comments. But of course it is sad.
Don't forget - he isn't here to sing and dance for you. Some people are less adept at social graces such as smiling nice for a camera or uttering pleasantries for the sake it of. He doesn't pretend to be someone he isn't and I respect a person for that. We're all human and are all fallible in various areas. He is clearly fallible in his own ways.
Either way, I am grateful he wrote the books otherwise the games wouldn't exist. I am currently up to Lady of the Lake and am really enjoying his work. The games and TV show are great all in their own ways too.
I’ll take the bicycle.
Heh, the interview sparked a fun discussion about cooking, so it worked for me.
Which reminds me of my proud tradition.
Love it! It's like reading an interview with Alan Moore where they ask him about film adaptations.
I think it's mildly refreshing to see that success and fame hasn't changed him at all. He wrote his books and he's content with that. Whatever happened decades later is of no interest to him. It's probably for the best, as Netflix changed too much in the show for my liking. Many of the stories were robbed of their dramatic punch so the show could make time for a pointless punch up or sword fight.
I doubt Tolkien would have liked the movies or games based on his work either.
@honza I bet he didn't make the same mistake with Netflix.
Sounds like he is still bitter about losing his legal battle. I do take his comments though as a truth to a degree however these mediums to increase the overall power of the franchise and a ton of people will now pick up the books because of the games or show. I have Witcher 3 but have yet to play it but I am watching the show right now. It's probably going to lead me to buying the books as I've already looked at a couple local places for them but haven't found them (I'm not looking that hard).
To me, the guy sounds actually somewhat sane, in a way that he still view the advent of media convergence as something definitely identifiable to this era, and questions its purpose (I do too). Guy's kind of remind me of my late grandfather, especially now when I realise that many of the things he said back then ("in my days...") were, in some way, actually better.
And now, having kids of my own, I can somewhat relate. I still prefer to play old retro games than many modern games. I don't get why my kids (and apparently, millions of people) are so bent on watching Youtubers yelling all the time about anything. I don't get why "selfies" matter to so many people. I don't see the importance of Twitter and the likes. So yep, I'm a dinosaur. And you know what? I'm fine with that. Seems like Sapkowski's in a similar boat, although he's older, so his references are too.
The guy's doing what he wanted to do (write books), and he got success out of that, to the point where its big enough for games, TV series, animated movies, and so on. He might not care about those, but as this brings money in (through new sales of books, and licences), he's surely happy about this. He just feels like what he thinks about that should'nt be relevant for the masses. And the masses, used to this era of social media, seem to have trouble understanding that someone may want to keep his thoughts to himself sometimes.
Anyway. I enjoyed the series, and I'm enjoying the games. Will start the books soon.
This guy has like the worst attitude about this of any author I've seen. Also, one of the dumbest financially. CD Projekt Red has been incredibly gracious to this guy who doesn't deserve one iota of it.
Very polish and that's ok! Much better than any promotional interview actors and directors give.
I also find him much more tolerable than Allan Moore. Now that's a bitter dude who gets mad when people adapt his work, even though he made a career writing stories about existing superheroes.
I liked his answer to the idiotic question about how he felt after there was a massive reprint of his books.
He's making more money, so of course he's happy.
On that note, I'm waiting for the first sports reporter to ask Kobe Bryant's wife how she is feeling now 🙄
After watching the TV series I picked up the game on Steam on sale and look forward to giving it a go at some point, additionally I want to read the books now as well. A good work of fiction should drive you to check out everything about the universe so I think it's a good thing. However I do think his thinking is pretty "interesting" to say the least. I definitely feel the TV show will help sell more books though for those interested to see where the story is going since the games are more of a sequel.
I’m from a Polish family and am married to a Pole. There is a certain bluntness to Poles (we joke that if you hire someone to come and fix something in your house, Poles will tell them how to do their own job 😂) . However, I look at his replay a different way; he spent years writing these books and works building and most people are more familiar with them due to other projects that have used his ideas. He probably would rather that the books were recognised and the games and books were seen as good too. Compare it to J.K.Rowling; the HP books were already a sensation before the films. She probably feels comfortable that she gets recognition as a writer first, then the other aspects of the HP media. It is the other way around for the Witcher, so I can see a little resentment there. I wonder if songwriters who write massive songs that are more famous by other artists feel the same way (‘I sang it first, you know!’)
That comment has to be a reference to this hilarious video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-RfHC91Ewc
@AlexSora89 Fair play! I cook mine with bits of pancetta, eggs and pecorino or parmigiano, so I'm not far of it seems. I like the pineapple advice, would it help if I'd say that pasta bolognese is just some tomato sauce with mince?
What a depressing, negative knob. Thank God that he allows extremely talented people to adapt his great works into other very successful and enjoyable media.
His works are being universally praised by enthusiastic fans across multimedia platforms, so cheer up ya goof and enjoy some champagne.
Good for him I suppose, if he doesn't like video games that's his thing. Doesn't effect my enjoyment of the games nor does it tamper with the quality of his work. I love to game, but I do try to balance out my life, I do think there's something to be said about reading and the effects it has on your brain versus gaming.
Personally i loved the show, am loving the books (almost done with The Last Wish) and my wife surprised me with the Witcher 3 and I’m loving that too. Part of what I like is the differences between all three things.
Honestly it reminds me of Dexter a little bit. I loved that show and before season three came out I started reading the books. The tv show runners said hey we like this and are gonna go in a different direction now after adapting the first book. Then it felt like the author was constantly trying to contradict the show and make decisions to spite fans of the show at times... and I loved it. The books are amazing and are their own universe and the show was amazing and was its own universe. And you know how the finale was one of the most hated finales of all time? The last book was great right up to the finale chapter and the author freaking blew it too! Still a fun ride.
So I see the Witcher similarly. Three alternate dimensions of the same world that you can enjoy some parts of all and think some parts suck. What’s cool is that you can enjoy some of all of all three versions. You can’t say that about all franchises ya know?
I literally fell asleep reading Blood of Elves, so excuse me if I imbibe his universe through video games and a TV show.
He's still so bitter, it's delicious
Lucky we can have all 3 platforms of it now.
If you've never played a video game, you don't get an opinion on whether they can be compared to books or movies.
Sorry more people know your characters from a game than from your books, boomer.
I like the picture in this article.
Ahahaha! What a pessimist! He sounds exactly like my friend with the quote about keeping expectations low. Very cynical comments, he shows his age here. It appears he does look down on other media formats a little but is trying not to make it too apparent. Really, it's just a case of his ego being hurt by the fact the attention he gets has mainly been through adaptations as well as a touch of medium snobbery. They should probably just stop hassling him for his opinion, that might make him think to get a little more involved if possible, otherwise his name will slip into obscurity. It's only the controversy that's keeping his name known. The Ninja Turtles creator sold his IP but with rights to publish new chapters and adaptations. I just think he'd be better off being active rather than a negative nancy.
Sapkowski still salty he didn’t agree to the percentage of the profit and the brand became world famous without him. He’s arrogant and kinda hates the Witcher. He has written other books, but none was as popular as his early work. But with the Netflix deal he seems to have mellowed out a bit.
@Gamecuber Add to that the timeline; he wrote the books way back in the 80s and considers them a bit of an old shame. Yet people keep banging on about them.
@ShaiHulud lol 😂
As an Italian myself, I think the worst thing you could say in that regard would probably be that ragù/bolognese is just tomato and meatballs. That's gonna ruffle feathers in Bologna 😂
@khululy fun fact: it's called "carbonara" from the word "carbone" (coal), because of the color of the pepper 😃
I don't know why everyone insists on giving him a hard time when it comes to his creation, at the end of the day he's an old fashioned guy who has been proven wrong multiple times about videogames as a medium, doesn't really care about fame and has quite the temperament.
Which begs the question why exactly CDPR felt the need to base their games off his books when they could've done a completely original IP and avoiding dealing with him, they have enough talent to do so
He’s obviously just jealous that people know Witcher through the games (and now TV series) than the books.
Yeah I get that vibe. I really don't understand his negativity though. The Witcher game and tv series seem like pretty good adaptations of his work. You'd think the guy would be happy that people enjoyed his books so much, that they put years worth of effort into adapting them. He just comes across as bitter. It's ok to not like video games or TV. It would nice if he showed a little respect to the 100s of people who have in effect been marketing his book.
The guy sounds like a total douche. Typical narrow-minded, intransigent old person.
Also: "I have never played any games, but I'm gonna say these media are totally incompatible because I absolutely know what I'm talking about"
"I have always prefered books. Always will. But the games and TV show are building up their own community and fanbase and I'm really happy they are enjoying those."
That's it. That's all you have to say.
The rest of it makes him sound bitter that the games have made the franchise as bug as it is, and that the show is going to be bugger too. Forget that he's directly making money because of the exposure of that content, he's bitter he isn't at the forefront of that.
What an odd choice of words, lol.
I don't like ragu (tomato sauce mixed with mince meat, basically), however. I'm all for tomato sauce, carbonara and even pesto (a condiment mostly made of salad born in Genoa, to put it simply), but I can't bring myself to like ragu for the life of me. Always has been since my early childhood, and for some reason I can't like it in my thirties. Go figure!
Er... I... guess?
Also, are those actual lyrics from a Weird Al song? Either way, you listen to Weird Al, which makes you an okay guy in my book.
I......like this guy.....
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