The Written Image: Memoranda

From the March/April 2016 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

For all the Haruki Murakami fans who have dreamed about being in one of the fiction writer’s strange, surreal landscapes, the perfect opportunity is just around the corner: Memoranda, a video game inspired by Murakami’s short stories. Released this month by the Vancouver-based game studio Bit Byterz (, Memoranda is based primarily on Murakami’s story “A Shinagawa Monkey,” which was first published in a 2006 issue of the New Yorker. As in the story, the main character of Memoranda has forgotten her name and is trying to remember it. Throughout the game she explores a small town where she encounters a host of characters who guide her through a series of puzzles. For inspiration, the game designers incorporated dialogue and ideas from more than thirty other Murakami stories. “Whenever we are not sure what a game character should do, we refer to Murakami stories—and in 90 percent of the cases, we find what we are looking for,” says game designer Sahand Saedi. “The magic-realism aspects and the loneliness of the main characters that you find in most of Murakami’s stories were interesting for us.” The style of the game itself is a bit of a throwback; it’s a two-dimensional point-and-click adventure game, which, according to Saedi, requires players to be patient, pay attention to the story, and be willing to solve puzzles that do not involve violence. Saedi says that the Bit Byterz team hopes players will enjoy the game’s atmosphere, its references to Murakami stories, and its original art, created by Maliheh Rahrovan. Saedi adds, “We wouldn’t mind encouraging gamers that are not big book fans to dedicate some time to reading instead of playing.”