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Andy McNab writing Battlefield 3 book

Help tackle "atrocious" teenage literacy.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Best selling author and former SAS man Andy McNab has co-written a Battlefield 3 book with a chap called Peter Grimsdale.

The book, Battlefield 3: The Russian, tells the story of Dmitri Mayakovsky - a character you'll bump into in the game.

Both book and Battlefield 3 game will be released on the same day - 25th October.

More than just adding back story, McNab believes accompanying fiction can help encourage gamers to put down the pad and pick up the pages.

"The crossover between game and book is nothing new, but if you look at - and this wasn't the reason why - Western numeracy and literacy levels of teenagers, they're atrocious," Andy McNab told Eurogamer as part of an interview published today.

"Western numeracy and literacy levels of teenagers [are] atrocious."

Andy McNab, author, former SAS operative

"So anything that gets them picking up a book and hopefully enjoying it is fantastic.

"And it can be the other way round as well," he added. "You've got people who are reading books who'll go, 'You know what? Let's try some of this game business.' It works both ways. But as far as I'm concerned, if you've got a 14-year-old who's playing games and he picks up a book and reads it, that's fantastic."

Andy McNab talked of how Dmitri "Dima" Mayakovsky quickly emerged as "someone who everybody liked". Mayakovsky was "part of the old school" of soldiers, said McNab - "a young man [who served] during the Communist era where he believed in what he was doing". Now he's with the Federation and "he's lost", McNab explained, "because he is a moral guy always wanting to do the right thing in a world now that is totally different".

"The old order is gone, so where does he fit in?" asked McNab. "How does he deal with the environment that he's got now?

"[Dima is] totally capable of getting on with his weapons and doing all of the stuff he does, but it's more about why he's doing it and what, if you like, is his motivation in this world that has, for him, gone haywire.

"You can play so much with that," he added. "I write mostly in first-person, but this is third-person which, for me, is fantastic, because you can bounce everywhere and go off across to the other side of the planet and go off and come back to him. And it's easier to create jeopardy in that way rather than everything coming to the character. It's good fun."

Dmitri Mayakovsky is one person of a supporting cast. There are other characters whose stories could also be spun into books.

"Yeah, totally, totally," said McNab. "It needs to be a story running along parallel with the game. It's looking at the game from another point of view, which hopefully gives the game more context and is, hopefully, just as enjoyable as the game."

Andy McNab (a pseudonym) rose to fame for his account of Gulf War operation Bravo Two Zero. McNab has been awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM).

McNab left the SAS in 1993, and since then has written three accounts of his SAS life: Bravo Two Zero, Immediate Action and Seven Troop. He also pens the Nick Stone thrillers as well as other fictional titles.

McNab has served as a military adviser to Hollywood, lead security teams for media and lectured to intelligence services in the US and the UK.

McNab has sold more than 30 million books worldwide.

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