Charles Wheaton didn’t dream about becoming an author. He dreamt about gaming.
When those two worlds collided in 2009, Wheaton was a Mercyhurst University freshman whose interest in the student newspaper unknowingly set the stage for his future as a self-published author. His first e-book, The Poor Man’s Guide to Weird and Unusual Video Games, recently debuted on amazon.com.
The Poor Man’s Guide is a culmination of Wheaton’s online gaming reviews originally published in Mercyhurst’s weekly student newspaper, The Merciad. His column was a unique platform for discovering free and “dirt cheap” video games accessible on the Web.
Aimed at gaming enthusiasts who were on a budget — namely, college students — Wheaton penned more than 35 reviews for The Merciad. From Facebook games like Mafia Wars to Dungeons and Dragons Online and Wheaton’s personal favorite, Mount And Blade, The Poor Man’s Guide covers an array of affordable and/or free role-playing, strategy and puzzle games.
“For most of my life, I grew up in a ‘gamer’ family,” said Wheaton, a senior communications major who aspires to be a marketing specialist for a video game or toy company. “Gaming has always been a large factor in my life; I always thought I wanted to be a game designer.”
As a freshman, Wheaton was inspired to write about his passion. When he proposed the idea to Merciad adviser and intelligence studies instructor William Welch, the column was given the stamp of approval for its uniqueness.
“His columns looked mainly at playability and the entertainment factor, giving clear evaluations of both, along with a basic description of the game, how it’s played and how to get it,” said Welch, who wrote the introduction for Wheaton’s e-book.
It was clear that Wheaton’s articles were being read. The student newspaper’s online analytics showed plenty of traffic to his articles.
“He had followers,” Welch said. “For a topic somewhat off the beaten track, that meant something.”
Wheaton sees his book not only as an accomplishment but as a stepping stone for his future, one he can’t envision achieving without the support and motivation from his parents, Kris and Judy Wheaton, and brother, Joseph. His father, an associate professor of intelligence studies at Mercyhurst, has had his own success with games, including creating his own and pioneering game-based learning in the intelligence studies classroom at Mercyhurst.
“If you feel as if there is something missing in the world, you should be the one who fills that void,” said Wheaton. “Don’t let anyone or anything deter you from achieving your goal.”
While Wheaton has no plans for a second e-book at this time, he has played with the idea of someday writing a second edition about gaming, targeting mothers and middle-aged adults, who he said represent the second largest demographic of gamers after teenagers and young adults.
The Poor Man’s Guide to Weird and Unusual Video Games is currently only available for Kindle and can be exclusively purchased at amazon.com.