November 2012 | Nate Pedersen

Fan Creates Myst Linking Book

If you came of age in the 90s, you probably played the video game Myst.  Myst's immersive first-person gameplay was a seminal achievement in the history of video games. The New York Times hailed Myst as evidence that video games could be elevated into art.

In the game, you play a mysterious stranger who opens a book and is teleported to the eerie, deserted island of Myst.  As you explore the island you uncover other books, called "linking books," which in turn transport you to other worlds.

A superfan of the series in Australia, Mike Ando, decided to build a real-life linking book.  Over the course of six years, he transformed an antiquarian book into a functioning computer which lets you play Myst on an embedded touch screen.  It's an amazing achievement:

mystbook_open.jpgAndo first had to source a copy of the book used by Cyan (the software company behind Myst) as a "texture reference" when developing the game.  Ando found out that particular book was a bound copy of Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume LIV, Issue 312, December 1876 - May 1877.

So Ando found a copy of the same Harper's, bound in a similar fashion.  (In his research, Ando uncovered at least 14 variant bindings for this book, which makes sense, of course, as many of the Harper runs would have been custom-bound by period collectors).  Ando had the book repaired and custom embossed with the word MYST on both the front cover and spine in 24 carat gold.

mystbook_front.jpgHe then completely destroyed its interior, replacing it with a custom-built desktop computer and a 5-inch touch-screen.  He loaded the computer with Myst and its various sequels.

mystbook_insides.jpgAnd voila!  A real-life linking book was created:

Ando has this truly rare book for sale on his website for $15,625.  I applaud his enormous effort, even if it resulted in the death (or transformation) of an antiquarian book.  In particular, I'm thrilled by Ando's perfectionist attention to detail.  The end product is truly awesome: