A Tuesday Ten: Game On!

My tired self was going to try to have this up on Tuesday, but fell asleep to soon.  So we’ll try tonight.  I’d originally thought to do a list of fiction related to virtual reality, but quickly realized I simply didn’t have enough stories that qualified as children’s literature that fit the category.  So I shifted the topic to that of games–and opened it up to more than computer gaming.  So what game would you like to play?


Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes (Simon Pulse, c1991)

Admittedly, this science fiction futuristic is a bit more teen than children’s.  But it’s on the fiction shelves in my children’s section and it fits the list so perfectly, I can’t resist.  In the future, Earth is overpopulated with a huge population and few jobs to offer anyone.  A large segment of the youth are left with nowhere to go and nothing to do except fritter their lives away.  But in the community where there’s no future and little hope there is rumor of something different.  An amazing game.  It’s an experience that only a chosen few ever get an invitation to join.  But is this new virtual reality game just one more distraction from their lives . . . or something more?


Saving Thanehaven by Catherine Jinks (EgmontUSA, 2013)

The second publication by Catherine Jinks that’s come out this year, this story imagines what would happen if a computer virus made game characters not only aware of their own existence, but encouraged them to question their role within their games.  What happens when the denizens of the gaming world stop fighting each other and start fighting to survive?  An interesting flight of fancy into today’s gaming world.


Weirdos of the Universe Unite! by Pamela Service (Fawcett, 1991)

Here’s a bit of obscurity for you.  Aliens have invaded!  The only thing that stands between them and world domination are the young geeks and weirdos of the world and the mythical characters they call up out of their computer games!  Part fantasy, part science fiction, all silliness!


Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins, c1992)

The first of the Johnny Maxwell series by Terry Pratchett.  When our protagonist logs on and plays his favorite space battle game, he never expects the “evil” aliens he’s battling to surrender.  Nor does he expect to suddenly become responsible for the ScreeWee fleet and have to help them escape to safety and get home again.  A rather pointed questioning of the violence inherent in video games of the time.  It’s not Sir Terry’s best work, but still clever.


User Unfriendly by Vivian Vande Velde (HMH, c1991)

A pirated copy of the latest and greatest total immersion fantasy game has left a group of kids trapped inside the game in their adventure, without an easy way back out!  One of three books Vivian Vande Velde  wrote about this computer gaming world, this is the earliest, written nearly ten years  prior to the others.


Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde (HMH, c2002)

There are a lot of ways to die in computer game Giannine is playing.  And that’s a real problem because it’s a game that Giannine has to win.  Ever since activists attacked the gaming center, she’s been trapped inside the virtual game with no way out but to win it all.  And every time she dies she comes closer to dying for real . . . Written nearly ten years after the first story, this particular offering is the stronger of the two.  The author has one more title written in the same universe: Deadly Pink
(2012), where the protagonist must find and save her sister who is hiding out inside a game meant for little girls.


.hack//Legend of the Twilight, Vol. 1 by Tatsuya Hamazaki, illustrated by Rei Izumi, translated by Naomi Kokubo

I think this is the first time I’ve included manga on the list.  While I’m not as familiar with all the current series running, this is one particular storyline I am familiar with.  It features a future where various people come together in a huge online role-playing fantasy game.  The series involves mysterious adventures that go on outside the typical game structure, usually involving rogue programming or secret characters with their own intentions within the gaming world.  .hack//legend of the twilight is one of several series branching off along this premise.  .hack//another birth and .hack//AI Buster  are two of these.


Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (Tor, c1977)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this particular story.  Despite the current controversy surrounding the author, the original book is still brilliant science fiction written with a mind toward what the future could hold with games and gaming.  Children trained on battle games  as the soldiers to fight against deadly aliens.  The first book in the Ender’s Game Quintet it nevertheless stands on its own.


Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (HMH, c1981)

When some children uncover a mysterious board game equipped with warnings, they don’t bother to pay attention and throw themselves into playing.  They soon find that the game is more than a simple board game as they are plagued by wild creatures, and all sorts of other dangers.  The only way out?  Finish the game.  Chris Van Allesburg’s Caldecott-winning picture book may not have computers and virtual reality, but Jumanji would certainly be a wild game to play!


Interstellar Pig by William Sleator (Dutton, 1984)

Last, but certainly not least, I give you William Sleator’s story of an intergalactic game playing obsession.  Barney is expecting another bored summer at the beach, until he encounters three odd adults who befriend him and introduce him to a strange game called Interstellar Pig.  But these strange adults are not really adults . . . they aren’t even human.  There’s an alien game afoot to find the “pig” that may be hidden somewhere nearby.  Who will find it first?  Nearly twenty years after the first book, a sequel was written: Parasite Pig (2002) where round two of the game has started up and Barney is about to find himself drawn back into play!

I admit I ran a little shorter than usual on titles this week.  If any of you can think of an online gaming book to add, please mention it in the comments.  Most of the ones I know of tend to be more for adults/young adults.  Comments welcome!


About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on November 7, 2013, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Maybe the Otherworld Chronicles by Johnson-Shelton. Suitable for 5-8 graders I think and the language is pretty accessible.

  1. Pingback: Flashback Fridays: The Game of Life . . . | Views From the Tesseract

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