11 Following

Radiant Shadows


Gamers - Thomas K. Carpenter There’s something to be said about a book that can entertain. Does Gamers suffer from shotty world-building and weak characterization? Most definitely. But did I mind while I was reading it? Not really.A gifted hacker, Gabby has been “grinding points” for her LifeScore by performing mundane tasks (like brushing her teeth) and playing games to ensure she gets in to University, something that would guarantee her a good job. This is referenced repeatedly throughout Gamers, but exactly what job University will get you, is never explained. Other than being a Coder – someone who designs LifeGame – and a few vague references to a military, no other jobs are ever mentioned. Considering the plot depends on Gabby’s rude awakening about the truth for those who don’t get in to University, one would think that the types of jobs available would be better explained. This hole was made even more glaringly obvious when Gabby was left answerless after being asked what she thought the minor jobs were. How can you be so desperate to avoid the non-University jobs when you don’t even know what they are?There were many such questions that I wished Gabby had asked, or explored a little deeper, that were implied and then given no attention. Her lack of curiosity about the truths shown to her by the Frags was something I had a really hard time overcoming. After the leap of faith it took for her to trust the Frags enough to even listen to their side of the story, I was surprised by how few questions she asked and how quickly she believed their version of events. And then once it was apparent that she was going to believe what they had shown her, she kind of meandered through Gamers without the urgency I felt her situation demanded. While she did rush back, it was only because she realized they had started Final Raid early and she was falling behind in points. Not once did she consider telling her teammates the truth about what she had learned from the Frags, nor did she confide her secrets to her best friend, Zaela. Rather, she played Final Raid to the best of her abilities, and hoped that Zaela would earn enough points on her own to end up safe at University with her.But, while I had all of these thoughts swimming around in my head, I was also enjoying reading Gamers. Gabby’s constant checking of her LifeScore added a lot of suspense, as you worried she wouldn’t be able to catch up, and I loved the Dungeons and Dragons style gameplay used for Final Raid. I did have a hard time with some of the gaming terms used, and found myself wikking many of them – which generally, didn’t provide much clarity if I’m honest. But the concept behind LifeGame and Final Raid was pretty neat – you controlled your future, depending on how invested you were at learning how to play better. And personally, I really liked how some popular gaming characters were used as slang.“It’s so Bowser that they made the Raid worth so many points.”“What in Mario’s name is that thing?”But, I can also see how some of the slang used might put off others. It took a couple uses of the word “debuff” and “twinked” in context for me to slightly understand what they meant.And then, of course, there’s the question of what playing games has to do with running a successful society…But, my issues with Gamers aside, I really enjoyed reading it. There’s definitely room for improvement, and I think the ending was slightly rushed and anticlimactic, but it was entertaining. And sometimes, that’s enough.