Video games have come a long way since the very first console, the Magnavox Odyssey, was released in 1972. Augmented and virtual realities are now on the rise as gamers find more ways to distract themselves from their actual reality. But what happens when the line between real and virtual begins to blur? How will virtual realities shape our future? Explore these concepts by picking up one of these fascinating novels about video games and the people who play them:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Immersing himself in a mid-twenty-first-century technological virtual utopia to escape an ugly real world of famine, poverty, and disease, Wade Watts joins an increasingly violent effort to solve a series of puzzles by the virtual world’s creator.
Lock In by John Scalzi – When a new virus causes one percent of the population to become completely paralyzed in body but not in mind, the United States pursues a scientific initiative to develop a virtual-reality world for victims, with unexpected consequences.
Reamde by Neal Stephenson – When his own high-tech startup turns into a Fortune 500 computer gaming group, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa family who has amassed an illegal fortune, finds the line between fantasy and reality becoming blurred when a virtual war for dominance is triggered.
Omnitopia Dawn by Diane Duane – Dev Logan, the genius programmer responsible for a popular, massive multiplayer online game, Omnitopia, guards a secret about his invention – it is no longer simply a program, it has become sentient.
Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy – Grace McBride and the team at her software company are horrified when events in their murder mystery computer game are replicated in the real world by a ruthless killer, a situation that prompts them to analyze the game in order to anticipate his next move.
Armada by Ernest Cline – Struggling to complete his final month of high school only to glimpse a UFO that exactly resembles an enemy ship from his favorite video game, Zack Lightman questions his sanity before becoming one of millions of gamers tasked with protecting the Earth during an alien invasion.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – A veteran of years of simulated war games, Ender believes he is engaged in one more computer war game when in truth he is commanding the last fleet of Earth against an alien race seeking the complete destruction of Earth.
For the Win by Cory Doctorow – In a future where poor children and teenagers work for corrupt bosses as gold farmers, finding valuable items inside massively-multiplayer online games, a small group of teenagers work to unionize and escape this near-slavery.
And if you enjoy manga:
Sword Art Online Series by Reki Kawahara – In the year 2022, some six thousand gamers excitedly explore the new Sword Art Online, which manipulates users’ brain waves to create a wholly realistic gaming experience, but soon learn it lacks a log-out button and to escape they must conquer all one hundred floors, or die trying.