Geek heroes

By Xiong Yuqing Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-18 20:43:47

The author of All-Class Master, Wang Dong Photo: Courtesy of Wang Dong


The cover picture of All-Class Master on Photo: Courtesy of Wang Dong

Gaming fiction is a genre of Web-based literature quickly rising to prominence, and the popular Quan Zhi Gao Shou (which roughly translates to All-Class Master) by Wang Dong, better known by his pen name Hudielan, is at the forefront.

His popularity was made apparent when more than a thousand fans turned out for an All-Class Master convention in Beijing on December 14, while 10,000 copies sold out at the Comicup in Shanghai earlier this month.

The series is the most popular novel on e-book pay platform, garnering over 19.8 million views online, and is currently the highest ranked novel on the site based on user votes. 

Battle ready

Wang's 4.9-million-word epic is based around the fictional gaming world of "Rongyao," a massive multi-player online role-playing game for professional e-athletes. 

The drama begins when protagonist Ye Xiu is kicked off his team, ending his career as a pro gamer. Ye finds work as an IT tech at an Internet cafe located near his old club where he prepares for his comeback.

Spoiler alert: Ye Xiu comes back, big time.

"The main story line is simple and clear, and of course the hero becomes the champion. But the thing is how," said Wang.

Compared to other fantasy genres, gaming fiction simultaneously parallels reality and a virtual world, offering readers different sides of a same characters.

Wang further explores the idea of virtual identities with an inspiring life metaphor - when a player's character dies, a new and stronger one can be created and the game can continue.

In the story, one of Ye's close friends and talented gamer Su Muqiu dies in a sudden accident. To honor his fallen comrade, Ye uses Su's gaming account to help stage his comeback and resume his career with a new start.

Wang believes a good story should get people thinking. "Ye's path is much like Michael Jordan, who retired on top and tried to make a comeback."

Wider audiences

Wang, who holds a degree in Tea Sciences, started posting his fan fiction in March of 2005. "I had read a novel about online games and I thought I could also write like that," said Wang.

Wang admits that most of his early readers were gamers. "Many of my early stories talk about how to survive and be a super hero in an online game, defeating bosses and winning fame. But for the public, virtual fortune and fame is not that interesting."

"For battle sequences, I don't focus hit points when talking about the characters. I focus on the action instead of dry statistics," Wang told the Global Times.

"In this way, readers who are not familiar with games can also get into it," he added.

While novels and gaming seem an unlikely pairing, they have long-inspired each other. Just as the Dragon Lancers series in 1970s was based on the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, the Chinese novel series Jade Dynasty in the 1980s also helped later spawn the popular online game of the same name.

American fantasy author Christie Golden was warmly welcomed by Chinese gaming fans when she came to China in June for the Chinese translation release of her Warcraft-based novel series.

According to Wang, there are three plot elements that tend to grab general online readers: competitions, romance and Matrix-type characteristics where players plug into a virtual world through bio-hardware.

"Competition-based storylines are the most difficult, because all the battles have to be plausible and follow the rules of the game, while at the same time highlighting the player's skills," said Wang.

In order to reach a wider audience with his series All-Class Master, Wang adds gaming competitions to the storyline, enabling his characters to achieve fame and fortune in the real world as e-athletes.


Wang's books glorify gaming competitions, something he jokingly admits is probably one of the most fantastic parts of his novels.

"I exaggerate the social position of professional gamers. I put them on different teams and elevate them to celebrity status, on par with NBA or soccer players," said Wang.

Competitive gaming was recognized as a formal sport by State General Administration of Sports in 2003. Over the past decade, Chinese players have had great success worldwide.

Professional e-athletes such as Li Xiaofeng, better known as Sky in gaming circles, has been hailed in foreign media as one of the best Warcraft III players in the world.

He has been crowned world champion several times at the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) and the World Cyber Games (WCG), and was one of the most nominated players at the eSports Awards. Li's Warcraft III skills made him the subject of a 2008 Dutch documentary, Beyond the Game.

Although Wang admits he has little contact with professional gamers, he sees the potential for competitive e-sports to be as popular in reality as he writes in his stories.

"I am not a good gamer," Wang said, "But I'm trying to explain these stories in a real way."

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