Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This Is Not A Game by Walter Jon Williams

Last I checked this book was only up for pre-order, but you should pre-order it. It's Walter Jon Williams latest and an impressive display of his talents. Besides that, it's just a cool premise. The main characters of this book are ARG designers - Alternate Reality Games, for anyone who doesn't know, are usually launched online, i.e. via a website. People from around the world log on to play, and clues will be hidden in the launch. The website might just look like a company page, but if you call one of the phone numbers, you'll get a voicemail with odd clues or maybe even talk to a live actor who'll drop hints. Other clues will be objects that appear in pictures on the site or the way the company logo was rendered. Together the players post on forums to figure out the puzzle which opens the next level of the game. Sometimes players will get phone calls from the game, and parts of the game may be acted out by live actors at preselected locations.

Walter's written a lot of games, including an ARG, a hit video game out last year, and a lot of RPGs for local NM writers. He knows this territory well. In This Is Not a Game, one of the ARG designers is clearly hiding something, and it appears he is using the players of his game to solve his real life problems. The other designers are thus stuck playing a game within a game - figuring out his secret while they try to keep the game on track. Throw in a murder, a stalker, and the collapse of several countries' economies, and things start getting really complicated.

That synopsis doesn't really do the book justice. I had ridiculous amounts of fun reading it and highly recommend it.

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