Read Press Start to Play by John Joseph Adams Daniel H. Wilson Online


Video games are a multi-billion dollar a year industry that has outpaced movies and books combined. The humble, pixelated games of the ‘70s and ‘80s have evolved into the vivid, realistic, and immersive form of entertainment that now rivals all other forms of media for dominance in the consumer marketplace. For many, video games have become the cultural icons around whichVideo games are a multi-billion dollar a year industry that has outpaced movies and books combined. The humble, pixelated games of the ‘70s and ‘80s have evolved into the vivid, realistic, and immersive form of entertainment that now rivals all other forms of media for dominance in the consumer marketplace. For many, video games have become the cultural icons around which pop culture revolves.PRESS START TO PLAY is an anthology of stories inspired by video games: stories that attempt to recreate the feel of a video game in prose form; stories that play with the concepts common (or exclusive) to video games; and stories about the creation of video games and/or about the video games—or the gamers—themselves.These stories will appeal to anyone who has interacted with games, from hardcore teenaged fanatics, to men and women who game after their children have gone to bed, to your well-meaning aunt who won’t stop inviting you to join her farm-based Facebook games.At the helm of this project are Daniel H. Wilson—bestselling novelist and expert in artificial intelligence—and John Joseph Adams—bestselling, Hugo Award-nominated editor of more than a dozen science fiction/fantasy anthologies and series editor of Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy (volume one forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin in 2015). Together, they have drawn on their wide-ranging contacts to assemble an incredibly talented group of authors who are eager to attack the topic of video games from startling and fascinating angles.Under the direction of an A.I. specialist and a veteran editor, the anthology will expose readers to a strategically chosen mix of stories that explore novel video game concepts in prose narratives, such as save points, kill screens, gold-farming, respawning, first-person shooters, unlocking achievements, and getting “pwned.” Likewise, each of our authors is an accomplished specialist in areas such as science fiction, fantasy, and techno-thrillers, and many have experience writing for video games professionally.Combining unique viewpoints and exacting realism, this anthology promises to thrill generations of readers, from those who grew up with Atari 2600s to the console and PC gamers of today....

Title : Press Start to Play
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 21460097
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 264 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Press Start to Play Reviews

  • Felicia
    2019-02-18 03:29

    There are some fascinating takes on gaming in this short story collection. If you want some interesting, adult takes on aspects your favorite hobby that you may never have thought of, this is worth picking up.

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    2019-03-11 06:34

    At first, I was hesitant about listening to an anthology in audio format, but it actually turned out working really well! I really enjoyed how multiple narrators were involved in this project, and for the most part the actors and actresses were all well-matched to the stories they read. All the narrators delivered impressive performances, considering how not every story here was written in a conventional style, or at least in one that would easily translate to audio.The stories themselves, though, were another matter. Press Start to Play was a good anthology, but I admit I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. I’ve always been picky with short stories, but I really thought my interest in the topic of video games would help me with this one, but in the end this was just a very average collection, with most stories falling in the mediocre to good range. More disappointing is the presence of a few stories that only had a tenuous link to the subject, and even a couple that I felt had no place in an anthology that should be a celebration of video games. That said, there were a handful of exceptional ones that I felt really stood out. For a more in-depth analysis and my feelings for each story, see below:“God Mode” by Daniel H. Wilson – 2.5 of 5 starsThe protagonist of this story is an American studying abroad in Australia. He starts dating a fellow American student named Sarah, who one day suddenly fall and hits her head, and all of a sudden the stars in the sky start disappearing. I think the ending was meant to be more heartfelt and profound, but the delivery really fell flat. Quite frankly, I was disappointed by such a mediocre opener for this anthology, and even now I can barely remember that many details from this first story. “NPC” by Charles Yu – 2 of 5 starsThe title of this story gives us all the clues we need as to what it’s about. What happens when an NPC experiences an epiphany and isn’t sure if he wants to be something more? This was an interesting premise, but sadly neither the story nor the character was fleshed out nearly enough to be interesting.“Respawn” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka – 3 of 5 starsA regular guy discovers when he is killed that his consciousness has “jumped” into the body of his killer. This story reminded me a little bit of Claire North’s Touch. It was a cool concept, and I would have liked to see it carried further, but whether it really belongs in a video game themed anthology is debatable. “Desert Walk” by S. R. Mastrantone – 4 of 5 starsThis was a nifty little ghost story, which started out one way and ended in a way I totally did not see coming. When I started this anthology, I expected to get a lot of different kinds of stories, but I admit I didn’t expect anything with a horror element. This one was pretty awesome and creepy.“Rat Catcher’s Yellows” by Charlie Jane Anders – 3 of 5 starsOne of the best things about this anthology was getting a chance to read work from authors I’ve been curious about for a long time. I enjoyed this story, at least in the beginning. It’s a quirky and interesting take on a social game and a subset of its players with a unique disease that causes dementia. I was a little disappointed by the ending, though. I’d thought there would be more and was surprised when the next story started up.“1UP” by Holly Black – 3.5 of 5 starsThis was another story by an author I’ve wanted to check out for a while! Three teens go to the funeral one of their online gaming friends, and find a text-based game that he wrote on his computer. It turns out to be a clue to solve his apparent murder. Again, I loved the premise but this definitely would have worked better as a full-length novel. What a great YA mystery it would have made!“Survival Horror” by Seanan McGuire – 2 of 5 starsI suspected and later confirmed that this story is based on the world of McGuire’s InCryptid series, which I confess I know absolutely nothing about. No wonder I felt so confused. To be honest, I hate finding these types of stories in anthologies like this, because as hard as the author tries to catch you up with the world and who’s who in it, it just doesn’t feel the same. If you are familiar with InCryptic you might find yourself enjoying this one, but personally I felt no connection to any of these characters and couldn’t make myself care what happened to them.“Real” by Django Wexler – 3.5 of 5 starsI’m a big fan of the author, so I was pretty excited to read this. Our mysterious protagonist tries to track down the creator of a game that lets its players feel involved by using social media to discover demons and hidden runes. The idea gave me ARG vibes. A very cool story with an interesting twist ending.“Outliers” by Nicole Feldringer – 2.5 of 5 starsI think I would have liked this one more if I had understood it. Unfortunately, I found it a bit too technical. The main character is a woman who is obsessed with a game that tracks weather patterns for the government, and was even willing to skip her brother’s wedding to play it, which really didn’t help me sympathize with her. “End Game” by Chris Avellone – 3.5 of 5 starsI thought this was fun! A very interesting execution using the idea behind text-based games, but unfortunately, all the suspense eventually built up to…a fizzle. This is one of the biggest issues I find with the stories in this anthology; so few of them have real or satisfying endings. “Save Me PLZ” by David Barr Kirtley – 4 of 5 starsA sweet little story that starts with a young woman named Meg getting in to her car to find her ex-boyfriend, Devon. The real world and the virtual world collide as she is tasked to embark on a quest to rescue him. This was one of my favorite stories in the anthology.“The Relive Box” by T.C.Boyle – 3.5 of 5 starsA bittersweet story about a character obsessed with using a device called a Relive Box to keep experiencing the joys and heartbreaks of his past, meanwhile ignoring his daughter and his work in his very real present and future. I like its sad message about why we might want to relive old memories instead of going out to seize the day, creating new ones. It ended rather abruptly, which was my only criticism.“Roguelike” by Marc Laidlaw – 4 of 5 starsRepetitive and simple, but oh so hilarious! Again, it makes use of the text-based game format to tell a little tale about a very persistent resistance and the fates of all their doomed agents. The story reads like an elaborate joke, but I loved the punchline. I found it very enjoyable in spite of myself.“All of the People in Your Party Have Died” by Robin Wasserman – 3.5 of 5 starsA darkly comedic tale about The Oregon Trail as a game of life lessons to prepare you for the death of all the people you know and love to tragic accidents, and just bad shit in general. The character in this story discovers the game and becomes obsessed with it after the game starts doing strange things. I really liked where it was going, but then everything started unraveled towards the end. Definitely didn’t like the second half as much as I did the first.“Recoil” By Micky Neilson – 4 of 5 starsThis was one of the more complete and coherent stories in this collection, and the author created a very suspenseful atmosphere to boot. Jimmy is our protagonist, staying late at the office to test a new game, and suddenly finds himself in a hostage situation. This story also had a twist ending, but this one I actually liked. Another of my favorites in this anthology.“Anda’s Game” by Cory Doctorow – 3 of 5 starsAnda joins a band of elite girl gamers and kicks ass in the virtual world, but in real life she is an average and unassuming schoolgirl. Her online teammates are everything to her, but then something happens that might jeopardize all her newfound happiness. An interesting story about taking a stand for what you believe in, but not one that really stood out for me.“Coma Kings” by Jessica Barber – 3 of 5 starsA touching but depressing story about two sisters who bond in game, but one is in a coma so she has to play via an implant in her brain. For the protagonist, this is the only way she can have any interaction with her sister. I enjoyed the premise and thought this story showed great promise, but I wish the ending had been stronger and more meaningful.“Stats” by Marguerite K. Bennett – 3 of 5 starsDon’t you just hate it when your stats get nerfed? The character Joey in this story is not a very nice person, so I didn’t feel too bad for him when his body started changing. I love the attitude behind this story, and it was okay in its execution.“Please Continue” by Chris Kluwe – 1 of 5 starsMy least favorite story yet, and frankly it annoyed the hell out of me. Essentially it was a warning not to let gaming take over your life, but it came across really preachy and pretentious. The message is good, but why go about it in such a clichéd and uninteresting way? And oh, yet another unfunny application of the old “arrow to the knee” joke. How awkward. By the end, this didn’t even read like a story, more like a lecture from some nagging parent. It didn’t feel like a good fit for this anthology.“Creation Screen” by Rhianna Pratchett – 3 of 5 starsSpeaking of stories that have messages about becoming too obsessed with gaming, here’s another one. However, it was much more creative and elegant than “Please Continue”, and the beginning actually amused me a great deal. I happen to be one of those finicky MMO players who take an inordinate amount of time trying to get my character “just right.”“The Fresh Prince of Gamma World” by Austin Grossman – 3 of 5 starsA gamer gets transported to an alternate world which has experienced a nuclear apocalypse. It’s a pretty interesting story, though once again, it didn’t fully engage me or stand out. I enjoyed the premise and setting, and perhaps I felt a greater affinity for it since Gamma World takes place in a post-apocalyptic Boston and I happen to be neck-deep in Fallout 4 right now.“Gamer’s End” by Yoon Ha Lee – 3 of 5 starsThe title of this story should tell you something about what it is about, i.e. the use of war games for training. Nothing much I can say about this one, other than it was okay but didn’t blow me away either, and nothing about it really stood out.“The Clockwork Solider” by Ken Liu – 4 of 5 starsAlex is a female bounty hunter who captures a runaway named Ryder to bring back to his family. This is the first time in this anthology where I actually felt something more than ambivalence for the characters in a story. It’s another one that uses text-based gaming for its premise, but I found it philosophically deeper and a lot more thought-provoking than all the other stories in here.“Killswitch” by Catherynne M. Valente – 3 of 5 starsIn this story, Killswitch is a game that starts off like any other first-person adventure game. But it doesn’t end that way. I liked what this story had to say about games versus real life, about having one shot, one chance to experience a moment before it becomes a memory. I appreciated its poignant message, but for some reason I had a very hard time staying focused throughout. Maybe it’s just the style in which this story was written, but I found it really hard to connect to the prose.“Twarrior” by Andy Weir – 3 of 5 starsThis is a real short one, and feels more like snippet or an introduction to a bigger story, but hey, it got a few laughs out of me and that counts for a lot in my books. Andy Weir is one funny guy.“Select Character” by Hugh Howey – 4 of 5 starsPlay as thou wilt—a message I strongly support. Maybe that’s why I liked this one so much. It’s a very enjoyable story showing how different people approach games, and reminds me a lot of the conversations I’ve had with others about different gameplay styles. Only one thing matters: that you play the way you want and have fun doing it. Also, be open to other gaming styles. Sometimes when you play only one way, you might even miss things that you’d never have known until you talk to someone else who has a whole other perspective. What a great story to end the anthology.

  •  Charlie - A Reading Machine
    2019-02-20 02:41

    Hot damn I was excited to read this. I picked it up hoping to get that same video game feeling I had reading Ready Player One but missed out on reading Armada. I figured there must be more authors who have a handle on this element of pop culture besides Ernie Cline and there are. That being said when Ernie’s foreword mentions he does not have a short in the books because he missed the deadline I was very disappointed and figured they should have left him out altogether rather than have him essentially rewrite his intro from his first two books. It’s like having Spielberg as your executive assistant producer on the credits of a movie and the reality is the audience know he was not involved at all.Onto the stories!God Mode by Daniel H Wilson – Interesting but not particularly strong opening. Nothing makes much sense until the ‘Ah-ha’ moment at the end which means just as it get’s interesting it’s over. Was hoping for more from the Author of the Robopocalypse series.NPC by Charles Yu – Not bad. A nice story about a guy who suddenly finds himself powered up after a cosmic type incident and the subsequent change, or lack of change, in the way he feels about himself, his role, and his fellow human beings.Respawn by Hiroshi Sakurazaka – The first story I really enjoyed. A simple man with simple pleasures is killed and finds his personality has been teleported into the body of his killer. Subtle and dealing with some really nice ideas. 4/5Desert Walk by S. R. Mastrantone – Awesome story about the most boring game ever! Walk through the desert and every four hours you might see a bush if your lucky but everything is individually coded and not just repeating meaning their could be something out there. Captures that concept of grinding at it’s most basic but intense and then goes in a totally different direction you will not see coming. 4.5/5Rat Catcher’s Yellows by Charlie Jane Anders – Liked this one. A disease threads through society leaving some people seriously short of sandwiches at the picnic. For some reason many of these people find solace playing a game where cats rule their own kingdoms and a carer must decide between the hopes they have for their patient and the reality of the unreal situation. 1UP by Holly Black – The friends of a recently deceased young man find a game at his funeral that they must play in real time to unlock the mystery of his murder. 4/5Survival Horror by Seanan McGuire – Two kids get trapped in their bedroom/another dimension while playing a newly installed game. Bit wonky this one and didn’t really much sense to me.Real by Django Wexler – My favourite in the book. A journalist tracks down the somewhat mythological creator of a game that was never officially released and is played by those that think it is actually real. A networked phone game that identifies ‘demons who have invaded earth’ and glowing runes on walls that makes the player feel truly involved. A truly wonderful and delicious premise delivered in just the most fantastic manner. 5/5Outliers by Nicole Feldringer – Didn’t get this one. A girl plays a game that looks at weather patterns instead of going to her brothers wedding. by Chris Avellone – The first of a number of text based game stories. Many repeating phases over and over and some interesting bits from the POV of the character in the game but myeh.Save Me PLZ by David Barr Kirtley – What if the boundaries between game and reality were blurred and someone eventually figured out how to make them bleed together. Think small men handing out quests on main streets and swords that can carve through just about anything being part of every day lilfe. 4/5The Relive Box by T.C.Boyle – This was a sad one but scarily imaginable as a very possible outcome for where we are headed. A new invention gives people the ability to plug into their old memories and relive them. A father and daughter who have lost their wife and mother must try and live on without her whilst the fathers obsession with figuring out what went wrong threatens to destroy the only relationship he has left. 4/5Roguelike by Marc Laidlaw – A somewhat repetitious text based game story that follows the actions of someone attempting something. With death at every turn each action must be played out over and over again until the right combination of actions is stumbled over. There were some funny moments in this one, which surprisingly can’t be said for the rest of the book and it had a little kick at the end. All of the people in your party have died by Robin Wasserman – A teacher becomes obsessed with Oregon Trail and notices parallels between her own life and the game when she must leave those behind her to get where she needs to be.Recoil! By Micky Neilson – Really dug this one. A story within a story, where a young man, testing a new game, suddenly becomes involved in a real life terrorist situation. I thought I new where it was going but I was pleasantly kicked in the face but the subtle and clever ending. 4.5/5Anda’s Game by Cory Doctrow – Very interesting look at the world of gold farmers, unions and the industrialisation of gaming. A young heroin finds herself questioning the missions her clan are fighting when someone from the side of their victims manages to get some communication though. Coma Kings by Jessica Barber – Coma is a game you plug into that involves you building structures in a competition. The winner seeks to destroy the others construct and it is a big craze. The two sisters in the book are extraordinary talented players with one of them going so far as to have the game implanted directly into the brain putting them in a vegetable like state. Their consciousness exists only in the game and it is here that the other sister must try and reach her. Stats by Marguerite K. Bennett – A man finds himself in a really weird and shitty situation when someone begins messing with his real life stats.Please Continue by Chris Kluwe – A young guy rises up the ranks of players but sees the finish lose its lustre and ends up telling us to go out and get a real life.Creation Screen by Rhianna Pratchett – A character is created who seems to have the soul of a condescending and disapproving mother as she proceeds to lecture the reader on how their life is wasted in front of a screen and that the deeds achieved in game mean nothing in life. The Fresh Prince of Gamma World by Austin Grossman – Almost no idea what this one is about and don’t feel inclined to go at it again.Gamer’s End by Yoon Ha Lee – Great story about the use of war games 4/5The Clockwork Solider by Ken Liu – Didn’t do it for me and more text based games stuff.Killswitch by Catherynne M. Valente – Awesome. Hard to explain why but if you are a gamer you will get it. 5/5Twarrior by Andy Weir – Another very strong story. A kid creates a program and tells it to go learn some shit and get back to him. A billion cycles later and what is talking to him infects every known system in the planet and is wicked smart. 4.5/5Select Character by Hugh Howey – Top notch and explores that wonderful urban legend of doing so well in a game that the army calls you and recruits you but with a very different twist. 4.5/5Overall a very solid collection. There are some that had a video game in them but did not feel like they captured the spirit and a few that felt like they were written by people who had never played a game in their life or saw them as the end of society. The rest of them were fantastic and showed some real imagination and talent. The highlights for me were the stories by Wrexler, Mastrantone, Howey and Valente to name a few. I’ve I’ve been meaning to grab a copy of Django’s first book The Thousand Names and have done so and now Wool by Hugh Howey is a must read too.

  • Kalin
    2019-03-11 01:34

    A diverse panorama of a medium that is about to grow more influential than books and films, in terms of narratives and morals alike.Here're the stories that pressed me to think/feel the most. (I'm boldfacing my special favorites.)~ I really enjoyed the narrator's (i.e. my ;) voice in Charles Yu's "NPC". Like here:All of which is to sort of make it a little more understandable that when Oona Bantu comes to your quarters wearing just her under-skin armor, you don’t turn her away. She comes to sit on your bunk, and things get a little kissy for a hot and sweaty five minutes, and you feel really terrible the whole time and confused but also you are kissing Oona Bantu, so you don’t stop right away but then Carla’s sad little smile face keeps inserting itself into your head and you break off the kissing and Oona can’t believe it."Wearing just her under-skin armor," hehe.~ Oh, Japan ....Beside the sliding glass doors of the entrance, a multicolored strip of tape was marked 160 cm, 170 cm, 180 cm, and 190 cm. The sticker had been put there so that the entryway’s security camera could measure the height of anyone who passed through. These cameras took particularly crisp images; brazen robbers drawn in by desire for a little bit of scratch would eventually leave a clear capture of their likenesses, and their careers would end with an arrest. Japanese police were good enough at that sort of thing.In that case, I considered, we should put a button beside the door for robbers, so that when they pushed it, a machine would dispense a few ten-thousand-yen bills, take a picture of their face, then automatically report it to the police. Maybe then the criminals would form an orderly queue and await their turn in solemn silence.Will the existentialist satire of Hiroshi Sakurazaka's "Respawn" stick in my head like that stick at the end?~ Charlie Jane Anders's "Rat Catcher's Yellows" touched me like a cat's paw: soft and subdued and with just a hint about the claws inside.~ Holly Black's "1UP" examines online/offline friendship and what it means to really know someone through a surprisingly tense plot and sweetly authentic characters. Listen to them: (...) maybe my mother is right about friendship, because I do feel differently about Decker and Toad now that we’ve been together in real life. Now that we’ve heard the timbre of one another’s laughter. Now that we’ve learned one another’s Starbucks order and how we like our burritos at Chipotle and who can burp the loudest. Now that I learned how far they were willing to go for someone they never met.“Hey,” I say. “It’s Cat. We played the game, but now it’s your turn. Time to wake up.”He doesn’t move.“We’re risking our asses for you,” I say.“Nice,” Decker calls down. “How about saying we love him?”“How about saying you love him, Cat? How about ‘If you wake up, I will give you a big, fat, sloppy kiss,’ ” Toad says.“Shut up,” I tell him.“Soren,” Decker says. “Listen, if you wake up, one of us will give you a big, fat, sloppy kiss. I can’t guarantee it will be Cat, but one of us will definitely do it. I am ready.”“Soren,” Toad says. “Listen, how about this—if you don’t wake up, one of us will give you a big, fat, sloppy kiss and I can guarantee it won’t be Cat.”~ Django Wexler's "Real" contains a pithy summary of the status quo of Good vs. Evil. (Beware: it's also a heavy spoiler.)(view spoiler)[“It’s about belief, Aka-sensei. My kind has always fed on belief. When people play your game, they believe, even if it’s only for a while, and that opens the door.”“So I created you. I designed you. I wrote the script.”“In a way. I am ancient, and I am newborn.”“But that’s bullshit.” His hand slams down on the tabletop. One of the beer bottles topples over, rolls to the floor, and shatters. “You’re not playing by the rules.”“Oh?”“The good guys win.” There are tears in his eyes. “Everyone knows the good guys win, they always win. Mariko sends the Dark Queen back to hell. I wrote the goddamn ending! So if I created you—” He cuts off, his voice thick, and swallows. “If it’s all my fault, then why didn’t she win?” His voice drops to a whisper. “Why did Mari die?”“No one really believes in heroes these days, Aka-sensei.” I smile. “But everyone believes in monsters.” (hide spoiler)]~ Nicole Feldringer's "Outliers" is that rare gem combining a non-trivial idea with a non-cardboard protagonist. It also reminded me that among my CDs, I still have a climate change edutainment sim developed by an EU research institute ... but I never got it to run on my Linux. :(~ Extra points to Chris Avellone for making "< end game >" feel real::< get up >You crawl out of the bed. You feel nauseous. Your bare feet crunch against what feels like layers of papers, books, and cardboard. The room is freezing, even colder than the bed. You are shuddering. It is dark in the room. The alarm is beeping loudly.:< tiurn off alarm >I don’t understand the word “tiurn.”:< turn off alarm >It is too dark to see.:< examine door >Which door do you mean, the bathroom door or the hall door?:< hall door >There was no verb in that sentence!Now I'm off to check The Lurking Horror ....~ I liked David Barr Kirtley's parable "Save Me Plz"--that is, it startled and scared me. I find an uncomfortable degree of truth in observations like these:Meg, on the rare occasions that she permitted herself solitary recreation, preferred Jane Austen novels or independent films. She’d once told Devon, “I’m more interested in things that are real.”He’d been playing the game. Monitor glow made his head a silhouette. He said, “What’s real is just an accident. No one designed reality to be compelling.” He gestured to the screen. “But a fantasy world is so designed. It takes the most interesting things that ever existed—like knights in armor and pirates on the high seas—and combines them with the most interesting things that anyone ever dreamed up—fire-breathing dragons and blood-drinking vampires. It’s the world as it should be, full of wonder and adventure. To privilege reality simply because it is reality just represents a kind of mental parochialism.”And Devon and I seem to have an uncomfortable amount of things in common. Oh my poor own 'Meg.' *shudder*~ The sorrow of T.C. Boyle's "The Relive Box," the irony of Marc Laidlaw's "Roguelike" and the vast loneliness (reaching all the way to Oregon) of Robin Wasserman's "All of the People in Your Party Have Died" meet in their sense of loss. Painful."All of the People..." in particular all but wrenched me apart.~ Cory Doctorow's "Anda's Game" hits so many sweet spots; you'll find something for (and of) yourselves, whether you're hardcore MMO gamers, social activists campaigning against virtual sweatshops (or real sweetshops), parents worried that your children aren't doing enough genuine playing, or children annoyed that your parents aren't leading by example. In fact, the novelette may be too short a format for fleshing out all these issues; but it's long enough to set you thinking.~ Kudos to Yoon Ha Lee for the streak of pacifism common sense in "Gamer's End." As a character in the story says, "no war, however terrible, lasts forever"; and if we are to look beyond it, what kind of thinking do we need?~ Ken Liu's "The Clockwork Soldier" works on so many levels--from the "(interactive) story within a story" format, to the justifiable way Alex trivializes Ryder's agenda at first, to her honorable, humane reaction when she discovers her misconception--that I cannot praise it coherently enough. Instead, I'll share with you the following excerpt (which isn't a spoiler, since it appears right at the start):“Don’t you want to ask to see me as I really am?”She considered this. “No. I’ve already decided to believe you. Trying to make sure can only make things worse. If I find out that you’re telling the truth, then I will have ruined this moment, when I can still believe I’m capable of being decent, of trust. If I find out you’re lying, then I’ll have to consider myself a fool.”“So, again you choose faith before knowledge.”This time, she didn’t stop climbing. When she was at the air-lock door, she turned around. “Faith is just another name for self-knowledge. You’ve succeeded, Scheherazade. When you tell your own story, you seize life. Now it’s my turn to tell myself a good story, about myself. I know enough. Good-bye.”~ Catherynne M. Valente's "Killswitch" and Andy Weir's "Twarrior" were both extreme enough to make me cringe sympathetically and laugh, respectively. Hence, a lesson for writing flash fiction: pull no punches.~ Hugh Howey's "Select Character"--a gentler, less grim riff on the same issues as "Gamer's End"--is a fitting conclusion to the anthology. We need less grimness and more gardeners, even in first-person shooters. Especially in first-person shooters.Yes? :)

  • Paul
    2019-03-12 23:40

    I love reading anthologies, its a great way to find new authors , read side stories so current favourites , and see a range of imaginations in bitesize form.For me , in recent years I have found John Joseph Adams to be one of the best editors in the game. This is a book I was quite excited to start and anticipated great things. The book was inspired to some degree by Ernest Clines recent books butbthe intro reveals his story failed to make the deadline and the disapointment continued from there. Its not all terrible. I enjoyed a reasonable amount of the stories. Andy Weirs humour shines through, Hugh Howey's was a strong one to finish on, Rhianna Pratchetts was a decent story, Ken Liu's was very good. Of the lesser knowns I quite enjoyed Jessica Barber. But so much of the rest ranged from ok to bad. Many barely fit the guidelines for the collection.To be honest I think about 200 pages could have been cut and it would have vastly improve the book. It felt like digging through a pile of muck to find anything of quality and frankly an anthology shouldn't be that much effort. Maybe they were a bit soft on the submissions or only got a vert small amount buy it really could have done with a harder hand .Iys a bit of a shame , the idea did bring out some good imaginative stories but I won't be recomending this too much.

  • Krystianna
    2019-02-28 03:32

    Review from my blog:For those of you who don't know, I'm a huge fan of gaming. I've played games all my life, and grew up with a PlayStation 2 which I have been playing Guitar Hero 2 on since age 8. Yes, it's that intense. I also love playing Xbox, Wii, and PC games. Any game console will do. That's why the second that I saw this book, I knew I had to give it a read. Plus, it had some writing by Ernest Cline, who is my favorite author of all time.Press Start to Play did not disappoint. It was filled with video game related short stories, some of them horror, some science fiction, and some fantasy. Sometimes the video games would even converge with real life, and those were the ones that I ended up loving most, because they were creepy! This was also my first anthology read, and I have to say that I now absolutely love short stories.Here are some of my favorites from Press Start to Play:NPC by Charles Yu (5/5 stars)This short story was awesome. Basically you are a worker on the moon collecting iridium every day and you have a crush on Carla. One day, you level up and everything is so different, which makes you miss the days that you spent crushing on Carla, going on missions, and eating Lean Cuisines. I think the coolest thing about this one was that the main character was literally "you", making you feel the experience even more.Respawn by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (5/5 stars) This short story contained a character who could respawn every time he died. If he was murdered, he became the murdered. It was the coolest concept. Imagine that happening to you; you basically could never die.1Up by Holly Black (5/5 stars) This is my favorite kind of video game read-very Ready Player One-esque. Friends who knew a guy named Soren online all go to his funeral, only to find that he left behind a game to answer questions behind his death. This game starts to blend into the real world in the awesomest way possible. This is definitely my favorite short story so far, and now I know why everyone loves Holly Black.Save Me Plz by David Barr Kirtley (5/5 stars)A short story that involves a world where elements that weren't part of Earth suddenly are? YES PLEASE. Yet another short story that I loved! This one also featured a huge twist towards the end. Definitely worth the read!The Relive Box by T.C. Boyle (5/5 Stars)I loved the idea behind the relive box... I feel like it's definitely something that could come about in the future. It's basically a stimulation that lets you relive anything from the past that's happened, and you can relive it as many times as your heart desires, which is insane. The world would never be the same and it'd definitely start to take over your life, as this short story shows.Anda's Game by Cory Doctorow (5/5 stars)I read In Real Life by Cory Doctorow a few months ago and loved it, so I love how this short story was basically the same but just in writing instead of comics! It touches some very unique concepts that are definitely worth talking about such as child labor. I highly suggest reading this short story.Coma Kings by Jessica Barber (5/5 stars)I absolutely adored how this story had more than just video games; it also had a sisterly bond, though one of the sisters was in a coma. The sister however was hooked up to the game so she was alive online, though just not in person. It was a very cool concept, I loved it!Creation Screen by Rhianna Pratchett (5/5 stars)Instead of reading about the gamer, this story was actually about the character in the video game! It takes the idea of role-playing to a whole new level, as the gamer is literally playing as someone else. It was cool to get inside the head of the character that's being forced to move around and fight things without really wanting to. There was even more, but I don't want to make this review any longer than it already is! Long review short, if you are a video game fan or love reading books about video games, this is the book for you. Press Start to Play is a new favorite that I will never stop recommending. A copy of Press Start to Play was provided for the publisher. --------------------------------------------------------------Since this is an anthology, I will be writing reviews as I read each short story. God Mode by Daniel H. Wilson (4/5 stars) The main character of this short story is going to college abroad in Australia. He falls for a girl named Sarah, who is also from America. When Sarah hits her head, stars in the sky start disappearing and Australia gets cut off from the rest of the world. This story was extremely good because I thought it was going one way only for it to have a huge twist and it ended up being completely different.NPC by Charles Yu (5/5 stars)This short story was awesome. Basically you are a worker on the moon collecting iridium every day and you have a crush on Carla. One day, you level up and everything is so different, which makes you miss the days that you spent crushing on Carla, going on missions, and eating Lean Cuisines. I think the coolest thing about this one was that the main character was literally "you", making you feel the experience even more. Respawn by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (5/5 stars) This short story contained a character who could respawn every time he died. If he was murdered, he became the murdered. It was the coolest concept. Imagine that happening to you; you basically could never die.Desert Walk by S. R. Masantrone (3.5/5 stars) I love the idea behind this one-the main character, Sam, has gotten his hands on a copy of one of the rarest video games, Desert Walk. He begins playing it and interviews the author, and some creepy stuff happens. I just feel like the creepy stuff that happened wasn't all that creepy, but rather I saw it coming.Rat Catcher's Yellow by Charlie Jane Anders (3/5 stars) I loved the concept for this one just like Desert Walk but I wish I found out more about the video game that they were all playing! It seemed to be linked to cats, but it was never said it it actually was. Also, I found this disease that many people had to be very creepy.1Up by Holly Black (5/5 stars) This is my favorite kind of video game read-very Ready Player One-esque. Friends who knew a guy named Soren online all go to his funeral, only to find that he left behind a game to answer questions behind his death. This game starts to blend into the real world in the awesomest way possible. This is definitely my favorite short story so far, and now I know why everyone loves Holly Black.Survival Horror by Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant) (4.5/5 stars)This was definitely a bit of a horror video game story, which makes it stand out from the other short stories in this anthology thus far. Sarah is at her cousin Artie's house reading comic books when Artie decides to download a video game which basically glues them to the floor and forces them to complete puzzles or else they'd be sucked in to another dimension. Like I said, pretty horrorish. Also, I loved the comic books being talked about in this one. It made me love the story a little more because I had something in common with the characters.Real by Django Wexler (4/5 stars)I love how interesting this tale was. There was also a huge twist at the end! The idea was very interesting too-this guy had made a game that somehow went too far and was taken over by his friend. Plus, some of the characters came to life. Outliers by Nicole Feldringer (3/5)I feel like the only reason I didn't love this one was because I didn't much understand what was going on. It was something about earth and weather, and this person was trying to figure out why there was no way to win the Chris Avellone (5/5 stars)This is another favorite of mine! I loved how it was one of those command games, and the reader basically just reads through the commands, which was very cool. It was like I was actually playing!Save Me Plz by David Barr Kirtley (5/5 stars)A short story that involves a world where elements that weren't part of Earth suddenly are? YES PLEASE. Yet another short story that I loved! This one also featured a huge twist towards the end. Definitely worth the read!The Relive Box by T.C. Boyle (5/5 Stars)I loved the idea behind the relive box... I feel like it's definitely something that could come about in the future. It's basically a stimulation that lets you relive anything from the past that's happened, and you can relive it as many times as your heart desires, which is insane. The world would never be the same and it'd definitely start to take over your life, as this short story shows.Roguelike by Marc Laidlaw (4/5 Stars)This was a funny little read. I loved all the artwork... it greatly added to my enjoyment of the story!All of the People in Your Party Have Died by Robin Wasserman (5/5 Stars)This was a very interesting short story and I like how it touched on gay marriage. This book was also very creepy, because it featured a video game that was kind of bleeding into real life. Things that would happen in the game would coincide with real life, which was pretty freaky!RECOIL! by Micky Neilson (4/5 stars)Recoil took me a little bit to get into, but I definitely ended up enjoying it! I was a bit confused at first, though it does start to make sense. I don't want to say much because I don't want to give anything away!Anda's Game by Cory Doctorow (5/5 stars)I read In Real Life by Cory Doctorow a few months ago and loved it, so I love how this short story was basically the same but just in writing instead of comics! It touches some very unique concepts that are definitely worth talking about such as child labor. I highly suggest reading this short story.Coma Kings by Jessica Barber (5/5 stars)I absolutely adored how this story had more than just video games; it also had a sisterly bond, though one of the sisters was in a coma. The sister however was hooked up to the game so she was alive online, though just not in person. It was a very cool concept, I loved it!Stats by Marguerite K. Bennett (4/5 stars)I've always wanted to read some body horror, so I liked this one! It was quite cool to read about, and rather creepy at the same time. The main character kept changing bodies, though he didn't know why. The ending was the creepy part, though I don't want to give it away!Please Continue by Chris Kluwe (4/5 stars)The cool thing about Please Continue is that it had a deeper message hidden within it, that was mentioned at the very end. Basically, the main character has devoted his life to gaming, though time keeps passing as he's leveling up because it's taking him years to do so. There is more to life than video games. Creation Screen by Rhianna Pratchett (5/5 stars)Instead of reading about the gamer, this story was actually about the character in the video game! It takes the idea of role-playing to a whole new level, as the gamer is literally playing as someone else. It was cool to get inside the head of the character that's being forced to move around and fight things without really wanting to. The Fresh Prince of Gamma World by Austin Grossman (4/5 stars)The worldbuilding in this short story was epic and amazing. The entire time I was reading it I was completely engulfed in all the words because the world was just so awesome. There were twists and turns too, which I liked. Gamer's End by Yoon Ha Lee (5/5 stars)This short story reminded me very much of a dystopian novel, which may be why I liked it so much. The main character is going through training to see which job he'd belong with, and at the very end the reader finds out. The Clockwork Soldier by Ken Liu (4/5 stars)The Clockwork Soldier featured another video game immersion technique, which is really starting to grow on me. The reader is literally reading the video game at times, making him/her feel as if he's actually playing, though he's reading, which I liked.Killswitch by Catherynne M. Valente (4/5 stars)I loved how this short story was an in-depth description of the game's past and how it affected the world. It was fun to read!Twarrior by Andy Weir (5/5 stars)Reading this got me very excited for The Martian. Twarrior was super funny, and I loved how he learned everything from the internet so he only talked in slang.Select Character by Hugh Howey (4/5 stars)This short story connected into real life again, which was pretty awesome. I really liked how the video game allowed the player to do whatever they wanted; it was a cool concept. Final Rating = 4.56 = 5 stars

  • Steven
    2019-03-16 00:39

    3.5 stars The end was...anticlimactic. Didn't feel like we learned anything at all about Antimony or Artie either. :(

  • Django Wexler
    2019-03-16 05:36

    (One of my stories is in this, so I may be biased. But now that I've read the rest, I was really impressed!)

  • Cathy
    2019-02-27 06:54

    3.5 stars. When I started this t I was excited to see the mix of familiar favorite authors and people that were new to me, it seemed like good balance. One of the reasons I like reading anthologies is to discover authors to add to my to-read list, if I don't find at least one new author that I really like in a larger anthology it's quite disappointing. And that is the point of anthologies too, it's not just about selling them, it's about marketing the authors and selling more of their books and stories. These authors have interesting backgrounds too, a lot of scientific and technical backgrounds along with their often extensive writing experience and many writing awards. Plus they invited a bunch of authors who are primarily writers for video games or also write for video games, so they definitely knew their business. There was also some nice international flair, both in a few of the writers' backgrounds and in the stories. It wasn't extensive, but was good to see. Overall the stories were all good, and I enjoyed a few quite a lot. Seanan McGuires's was my favorite but that was probably at least partly because I'm into the series it's a part of. Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Charlie Jane Anders, and Robin Wasserman were also favorites. It was a fun theme and I was never bored except one time. Though it became clear from reading my friendMogsy's very good review of the book that I didn't always get some of the nuances or cool aspects of the stories because I'm not a gamer, so if you are you might get even more out of it than I did. It was great that they included a number of authors outside of the usual pack, going for gamer insiders. But I wished there were some younger or less experienced regular short story writers too. There were only two or three traditional authors (not primarily video game authors) who weren't very well known to me, and they were still well known authors. Daniel H. Wilson - G-d Mode - It wasn't about a video game, it was about (view spoiler)[the singularity, or at least about those two in the process of being uploaded. Is he saying that if versions of them live in the computer, that by definition is a video game, their lives have become a game? I guess it depends who's in control of the systems. (hide spoiler)] It was an interesting and kind of poignant story.Charles Yu - NPC - It probably says a lot about getting what we think we want and it not being what it's cracked up to be. I like my simple life, so I get that, fame and fortune isn't on my to-do list. So it's video games as a metaphor for life and all that. It didn't matter whether the game was real or not or what real even meant here. It was a good use of the theme, a decent story.Hiroshi Sakurazaka - Respawn - It had such a funny opening: "In the beginning G-d created the screen. And the screen was without form, and void; and all the pixels were dark..." It gets better from there, dots, paddles, beeps, very clever, I wish I could quote the whole opening. I liked the way he brought it back around to the intro at the end too, if not the action the guy took at the very end, which seemed inconsistent with his personality and experiences. It was a great story except that very tiny end part. I tried (hard) to find more of his stories and books, the anthology model worked well here, one of only two authors in the book I looked up.(But I already had a couple upcoming books reserved too, most of the authors were well known to me, as I said.) There isn't a lot available in the States or in the US library system from this many, many awards-winning Japanese author, a real shame. This story had subtle but good use of theme. S.R. Mastrantone - Desert Walk - It was a good kind of creepy, and enjoyably nostalgic, until it ended too up in the air to have any meaning. It was a so-what ending because I didn't know what had happened and there was no question left about what might happen next to extend the horror. A U.K. author. Good use of theme if a bit expected.Charlie Jane Anders - Rat Catcher's Yellows - Smart use of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite concept and boy was it weird to see it twice in a week, having also seen it in M.L.N. Hanover's Unclean Spirits as part of his Rider theory of how demons, vampires, lycanthropes, etc., all work. As someone who became disabled in her thirties, it was hard not to relate to this story, though I'm very grateful to be much more functional than the people with this disease. I related to the caregiver too, having been on that side of the equation as well. It was a very good story and a very good use of theme, a touching and clever story. Her first novel will be out soon, I've already reserved it.Holly Black - 1Up - It was very Holly Black, if you've read any of her books you'll recognize her style: good friends, kind of dark, kind of funny. She's great at writing for kids and about kids. It was a good story and a very good use of theme. Seanan McGuire - Survival Horror - An InCryptid series story about Antimony Price. If I'd know this was in here I'd have read the book months ago! McGuire has the most fun with Annie in anthologies, from bombs to roller derby to comic books to video games, Annie has the best interests. The full list of InCryptid short stories, many free to download, is on the author's website. This was a very fun story that I'm sure I'd have enjoyed as much even if I wasn't familiar with the people, and it would probably have made me want to get to know them. Ah - I may be wrong, my friend Mogsy was not a fan, (see review link in my intro above) because it was confusing and she felt disconnected from the characters. Django Wexler - REAL - I hate this, "No one really believes in heroes these days, Aki-sensei," I smile. "But everyone believes in monsters." I don't believe that, either one. Well, maybe the second one. But it was a decent story. And it was set in Japan; it was nice to read another one not set in the U.S. or U.K. And his books have been on my to-read list a long time, so it was good to get a taste.Nicole Feldringer - Outliers - Her opening was great, about setting up a competition for regular people to run a climate change simulation model online. It showed in a few paragraphs that "video games" aren't or don't have to be just fun, or things that are fun can also be productive. Like Fix The Debt's interactive resources that let people try creating their own federal budgets, fix Social Security, etc., these things can make a difference, can help people understand the hard choices that need to be made, can get them invested in the process, all sorts of benefits. And be fun. But the character in this story was unlikable. I can absolutely see wanting to skip a family wedding, maybe even a brother you love if your other relationships are bad enough. But the author didn't show me enough bad to accept that this gal wasn't just shallow and selfish. Nope, just a jerk who was forced to attend virtually and didn't even bother to prepare the toast she was supposed to give. Writing a short story about an unlikable person is tricky and she didn't manage it well, this woman came off as a brat and not as a strong, determined woman with her own agenda. But it was a great use of theme, and it made sense since the author has a PhD in atmospheric sciences and a Master's in geological sciences. Chris Avellone -- This was written by of the tech guys mentioned in the intro. A creative director of Obsidian Entertainment, he worked on tons of RPGs, plus plus plus, tons of experience. This experience was obvious in this interactive fiction formatted story. It was clever and compelling. Which was life and which is the game? Does it matter? Not if you're trapped either way, I'd guess. But like many of the stories in the book, it ended with a whimper, a bit disappointing after such a strong buildup. The way it ended was kind of a typical choice for short stories though, a lot of them go there and they're often disappointing in the same way. It was a very obvious and strong use of theme but nicely done. David Barr Kirtley - Save Me Plz - A reprint from 2007 from Realms of Fantasy. Maybe JJA wanted to include it because it was as much fantasy as science fiction? I think it's funny that stuffy people think Jane Austin books make them seem serious, they're such soap operas, that's why they're fun. Which isn't significant to the story at all, it was just a tiny thing the woman in the story mentioned that she liked that the man didn't. I didn't like the story much though, (view spoiler)[Meg didn't seem like the kind of person who would let herself get manipulated like that, with a causal, "well I did it before so I'll just do it again." (Not an actual quote.) I get that I was supposed to accept it and just like the impact of the ending but it irritated me too much, I didn't get how she'd have gotten to the point where we saw her. The changes to her body were incremental but the choices happened each time. Just because she was frumpy originally meant that I was supposed to believe she was weak willed? I don't like abusive relationship stories and the bad person winning. (hide spoiler)] The use of theme was good though. T.C. Boyle - The Relive Box - Originally published in The New Yorker in 2014. The story didn't take into account the pain of going from a precious past moment that can't be recaptured and re-awakening in the present. It's hard enough when it's just a dream or a regular memory. Yes, there are some people who would get lost in the past, but I don't think it's the risk that VR could be, I didn't find it that believable. And the story wasn't great all around. It started off good, I felt the pull of the past too for sure. And the dynamic between the father and the daughter was easy to relate to, as was the bratty but desperately hurting teenage girl. But then it didn't hold up for me. It was up and down. Plus it wasn't about a video game, it was about technology. And it had a terrible ending. Marc Laidlaw - Roguelike - A published author who became a writer for a video game, he knows this from both sides. A nice little injection of humor well needed in the book. And definitely a video game theme. Robin Wasserman - All the People In Your Party Have Died - A long story that took place in 1988. It important to read stories a about the past and get some perspective on the present. This wasn't so long ago, but it felt kind of shocking to remember how far things have come, for gay rights/human rights and about health/HIV/AIDS, and to see how far there is still to go too and pray it doesn't take another thirty years for both equality and a cure. And that game in this story was creepy. I sympathized with Lizzie too, because as much as I enjoy kids, which is more than most people, I was afraid that that enjoyment wouldn't survive if I decided to become a teacher. I'm glad I didn't so they're still a treat. But why do all of these stories have lame endings? I read a lot of short stories and endings can often be a problem, but this book is worse than most, with many of the authors choosing a common solution that is getting very old. (view spoiler)[Killing everyone off at the end is not fun for the reader. And not always the most impactful solution, even if it might seem dramatic. (hide spoiler)] But there was a lot to like about the story. I liked the imperfect main character, the way the author managed to weave together a love story, a creepy little horror story and bring in some important social issues as well. It did make me want to check out her books. Even though the game wasn't explained at all, it was just an anomaly. The MC drove the ending all by herself, so to speak.Micky Neilson - Recoil! - He writes for games, comic book adaptations and novellas. This was a more traditional action story, more what I'd expect when first thinking about the theme. The word Factions originally bugged me from my perspective as a non-gamer and Insurgent fan, but apparently it was a gamer thing first, who knew? (Millions of people, probably.) If this is a good example, I'd bet his adaptations and other stories are quite good as well.Cory Doctrow - Anda's Game - Originally published on in 2004. "Gamespace smells like a boy'sarmpit. Its time we girled it up a little." By which she means kicking arse and doing it using female avatars that have sensible tits and clothes (no bikinis for fighting) and great huge swords, I loved that. The gaming world can still pretty unfriendly to women all too often a decade later, it's a shame, but at least it's up and down, there can be a lot of good experiences too. And there are more female avatars and characters and they don't all look like anatomically impossible male fantasies. It was a good story, though not fantastic enough for me to get why they included it in this book except for it being an appropriately themed story by such a popular author.Jessica Barber - Coma Kings - This neuroscientist, rocket ship builder, etc., etc., is too dumb for me, I'm above reading her story ;) There are so many extra smart and talented people in this book, it really is an impressive line-up. We can draw a strong correlation, if not a conclusion, that video games do not rot the brain. Anyway, this is a reprint from Lightspeed and The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Second Annual Collection. My review from the second included, "It was sad... It wasn't totally original, I've read other stories about people plugging in and not wanting to come out. But it's obviously going to become more and more of an issue with better technology and virtual reality, and it makes sense that authors are exploring it from different angles and perspectives. It was a good little story about families and growing up as well. And it was a new author to me and a pretty new author on the scene as well, so I liked that too." I'm glad it was included here as well, even though I usually I prefer more upbeat stories.Marguerite K. Bennett - Stats - Primarily a comic book writer who's worked for many of the big publishers. I'm not sure I appreciated the story though. Forcing change in the world doesn't seem like it would work. Unless you're willing to kill the vast majority of people who don't comply to whatever your rules are, you self-appointed engineering gods. This woman wasn't any better than any power-mad dictator in the history of the world, Chris Kluwe - Please Continue - "Chris Kluwe is a former NFL punter and a writer, onetime violin prodigy, rights advocate, and obsessive gamer." This isn't a book that overly glorifies the authors' resumes, so that amused and impressed me. @ChrisWarcraft is his Twitter name and a significant part of his Wikipedia page is about his gaming life, also amusing. After reading about who his is and what he's done, I totally got the story and I agree with everything in it. But it was too heavy-handed and switched from an interesting story into too much of a lecture. He did help me to understand how people can spend years involved in the games that I don't have the attention span for, even made the idea attractive. The lecture had some good points. We need a balance, games shouldn't take over so much of our lives so that the real world suffers from lack of attention or financing. By games he also meant big stadium sports and by real world he meant teachers and scientists. It's an awkward comparison, but the call for balance is certainly a fair one. Rihanna Pratchett - Creation Screen - Another video game writer, also comics, film and TV. And now I'm feeling really guilty about my Bitmoji. This character said all of those physical changes were incredibly painful. I may never change her ever again! The story was simple and just eh, fine. The idea of using the character's perspective was good and some of her thoughts were quite amusing. It just didn't amount to as much as I'd hoped.Austin Grossman - The Fresh Prince of Gamma World - A novelist and video game design consultant. But just because some parts of the story were written in interactive fiction game format, that didn't make it actually about a video game. I didn't buy that it was anything to do with a game, it was about the kid and the multiple worlds he kept slipping between, the game was just an excuse to get it in this book. It was eh, a little tortured, trying too hard to be deep. Certainly not the cool or even modern and fresh story the name implied. As usual, it suffered from a not great ending.Yoon Ha Lee - Gamer's End - It can be fun what you find out about people sometimes. So one of my favorite short story authors also writes video games, who knew? I'm looking forward to his first novel, out soon. But though his stories are usually creative and terrific, this was dull. Too much detail, not enough to engage me with the character. Ken Liu - The Clockwork Soldier - Originally published in Clarkesworld in 2014. Good story, he's the most consistent (and prolific) short story writer. Catherynne M. Valente - Killswitch - Originally published in 2007 on It was vary Valente, a fictional myth about the gaming world. A vary short, good story.Andy Weir - Twarrior - This was a humorous one. Though if it learned everything it knew from the Internet would its spelling be awful or perfect? Of course it was funnier that it was adolescently obnoxious. Jarvis is only cool if you can hear him.Hugh Howey - Select Character - I kind of loved this one. Of course I would, right? Not all women and men think completely differently, some women want to play shoot-'em-ups to shoot-'em-up, but a lot of women are looking for something different from games and from the world than men are, or at least see things from a different perspective. We need to value different perspectives and approaches, in games and in life. I'd like to think that the ending was likely, that a woman's way of thinking and advancing would be valued so highly, or at least a peaceful, nurturing perspective regardless of who was playing.

  • Brenda Ayala
    2019-03-13 06:54

    Going to review this singularly because they all deserve it:God Modeby Daniel H. Wilson3/5 starsThis is an interesting one to start with, because it took a little more critical thinking than I was expecting. It doesn't really explain much of what's happening until the last few paragraphs, but it was clever and a good introduction overall into the style of stories in here. Two people's world is slowly dissolving around them, as if their surroundings are no longer rendered.NPCby Charles Yu4/5 starsLoved this! An NPC inadvertently does something that gives him an identity. Now he's not sure if he wants to be NPC or playable...and the dynamics within the story are funny in an odd way. It was an interesting bit about the awareness of videogame characters--not just the main guys, but even the NPCs.Respawnby Hiroshi Sakurazaka3/5 starsAgain, interesting, but not something I was really pushing to find out the end of. It got a bit confusing in the middle when there were so many former self's being referenced. Man respawns over and over into different people. Desert Walkby S. R. Mastrantone5/5 starsGave me big fat chills all up my arms and down my back. Who knew a pixelated game could be so freaking creepy? Apparently this author did because fuck I got creeped out. A desert game where all you do is walk, and hope to come across something cool. Until you come across something that shouldn't be in the game....Rat Catcher's Yellowsby Charlie Jane Anders4/5 starsThis short story went a little differently than the others. It wasn't so much sci-fi, fantasy or horror. It's about a woman whose mind is deteriorating due to a disease, and her partner finds a game that triggers the parts of the brain that still work. Turns out that even if her brain broke in some ways, she's now a genius in others.1Upby Holly Black4/5 starsGamer friends who have never met in real life meet up to go to the funeral of another gamer friend they've never met. While there, they discover that this friend may have known he was going to die soon, and left them a trail of breadcrumbs to follow via text-based game to uncover the truth about his death.Survival Horrorby Seanan McGuire1/5 starsToo confusing for me. Too many specialized terms that took too long for me to puzzle out and the story wasn't riveting enough to make it worthwhile. Supernatural people get locked in a computer game that won't release them until they solve all puzzles. (Still not sure what a cuckoo is here.)REALby Django Wexler4/5 starsI had no clue where this was going, but the author did a brilliant job of creating a story that I wanted to find out the end to. It begins with a translator searching for a man--a man with a very interesting story. He built an app that showed its users demons and secret writing and other such mysteries wherever they pointed their camera. An ingenious idea really, and I rather like the idea of an app like that anyway. But maybe there's more going on than he programmer knows...Outliersby Nicole Feldringer2/5 starsDon't hate it, but don't really like it either. There's a lot of build up, and a main character that is kind of a bitch (especially at her brother's wedding). The end was a little too smart for me, and I had to sit and reread it about four times before I could articulate what happened, and even then I'm not totally sure I got it fully. Which just makes me feel dumb. Meh. A woman plays a game where she gets to document climate change for the Chris Avellone1/5 starsAnother one with a LOT of buildup and very little action. I get that it's going on a text-based videogame, but I don't need to reread a bunch of times about how you reset on the bed and keep trying to take pills or read a computer screen. I just couldn't get into it.Save Me Plz>by David Barr Kirtley4/5 starsThis here looks into what it would be like to really have wish fulfillment. It starts with Meg going to find Devon, her ex-boyfriend. She jumps in her car and throws her sword in the backseat, and battles a giant spider on the way to his dorm. What follows is a quest for her to recover him. And what I like about this is that it isn't necessarily what you expect it is going to be, and I loved the ending. It actually made me appreciate just how magical our world can be, which is pretty impressive for a short story.The Relive BoxbyT.C. Boyle3/5 starsThis more than anything seems like a commentary on what gaming can turn into, in a very negative way. I liked it, and I like its message (or at least the message I'm pushing into the story), but there isn't really a plot. It just sort of gives you exposition about our main character and then it just ends in a bad way.Rogelikeby Marc Laidlaw3/5 stars2 stars all the way, until the last three paragraphs that had me cracking up laughing. Multiple agents run through a simulator to try and beat it and get to the end.All of the People in Your Party Have Died>.by Robin Wasserman4/5 starsI already like Robin Wasserman, but I forgot I liked Robin Wasserman until I read Robin Wasserman again. She wrote The Waking Dark, which is precisely as dark as you think it is with a title like that. I loved it, and forgot that she was the author. So when I was reading through this and got to the little About Me blurb for the author, I was reintroduced to her. And let me tell you, I like getting reacquainted with miss Wasserman. This particular story is about a teacher becoming increasingly obsessed with playing a twisted version of Oregon Trail. When she starts an affair with the computer teacher Rebecca, she gets sucked into playing the game night after night. But weirdly, the game isn't picking deaths that can happen on the Oregon Trail. It's picking dates like "throat cancer, 2020".Recoil!byMicky Neilson3/5 starsSolid story here. Jimmy accidentally gets locked into a building overnight, on the same night some Russians break in in order to get some very secret information. Queue Jimmy's desperate flee for escape and protection.Anda's Gameby Cory Doctorow3/5 starsMore than anything, the best part of this story is the positive message. That people from different walks of life and band together through videogames. I like that message. The story is that Anda gets to join an elite team of female gamers who are basically the baddest bitches ever. They're strong, they're smart, they're elite, but they're supportive of growth. Anda then has to go against one of her Fahrenheit teammates for something she's not sure she believes in or not.Coma Kingsby Jessica Barber2 starsYet another short story with a message, though this one is a bit of a downer. Two sisters play this game against each other, but one eventually gets so plugged in that she's essentially comatose (hence the name!!) It's depressing in more ways than one, and didn't really have an ending completely, but I think that was sort of the point.Statsby Marguerite K. Bennett3/5 starsYeahhhhh revenge story! Joey fucking Connor is a douchebag through and through. Suddenly he starts changing. His body changes, his voice changes, EVERYTHING changes--and who is to blame? He just might find out...Please Continueby Chris Kluwe2/5 starsTook too long to get to the point, and I lost interest after like five pages. Good idea, slow execution. Even WITH the positive message.Creation Screenby Rhianna Pratchett3/5 starsSort of a cute little story about creating a character, but from the character's point of view. What it's like to be modified, what it's like to venture into the game world for the first time.... there doesn't seem to be much of a point to the story, no indication that it could be built into more, but it's sweet and I liked it all the same.The Fresh Prince of Gamma Worldby Austin Grossman2/5 starsThe name isn't too funny to me, and the story was okay. Nothing to sneeze at for me, but not bad either. Kid gets stuck in an alternate universe, essentially.Gamer's Endby Yoon Ha Lee4/5 starsGamer's End would make such an awesome action movie! I could picture every one of these scenes bit by bit and it looks awesome in my head. In short, it is about a man doing a simulation that turns a little too real.The Clockwork Soldierby Ken Liu4/5 starsA sneaky little trick is in this short story, and I loved the way it ended. I won't say much, only that the bounty hunter Alex (female) captures Ryder (male) to deliver back to his father, and they talk philosophy..Killswitchby Catherynne M. Valente3/5 starsIt reads more like an article than a short story, which threw me off. The idea is cool, and I liked how it ended, but it felt a little too try for me to get invested into it all the way.Twarriorby Andy Weir4/5 starsOh, Andy. You crack me up, really. I've read a few of your short stories now, and The Martian. I gotta say--I dig your sense of humor. You have made me laugh every time it was your goal to, and I am pleasantly happy to see that this short story was no different. I'm glad I got to meet you (if only for a second) and get my book signed by you. I plan on keeping it a loooooong time..Select Characterby Hugh Howey4/5 starsA woman plays her husband's videogame, just not in the traditional way. And it leads to some very interesting reactions. This is a marvelous one to end on for me, because it ended the whole book on a good tone. I was already happy with how many female gamers were represented here, but this one in particular takes the cake because of what happens at the end.AVERAGE RATING IS 3.15, ROUNDED TO 3 STARS.

  • Oliver
    2019-03-17 02:48

    Lesbare Anthologie über unsere Beziehung zu Computer- und Videospielen, die allerdings ohne glanzvolle Höhepunkte auskommt. Erwähnenswert sind "Respawn" von Hiroshi Sakuraza, der aus dem Titelthema ein originelles Garn spinnt und die mit großer Routine sehr unheimlich erzählte Geistergeschichte "Desert Walk" von S.R. Mastrantone. Als alten Infocom-Veteranen haben es diesem Leser natürlich insbesondere die drei Geschichten angetan, die sich auf Textadventures beziehen: "" von Chris Avellone ist eine sehr gelungene Hommage an den Infocom-Klassiker "The Lurking Horror", die bis auf kleine Schnitzer kurz vor Schluss exzellent die Kommunikation mit einem Infocom-Parser wiedergibt. "1Up" von Holly Black ist eine hübsche Postmortem-Kriminalgeschichte und "The Clockwork Soldier" von Ken Liu liefert die Kritik an einem nicht so gelungenen Textadventure (in der Tat) im Text gleich mit. Viel Stoff (26 Geschichten) fürs Geld, eine strengere Auswahl wäre allerdings auch möglich gewesen.

  • Smirking
    2019-03-12 22:43

    I am a gamer. When I was younger it was Galaga at the local arcade and Super Mario when I was at home. Now it is Mass Effect, Destiny, and most recently Stardew Valley. I love video games. I love the escapism, the strategy, and the utter satisfaction that they bring. The Rogue and I play together often as well. Our favorites are shooters and RPGs, but we each play a little of everything. Of course when I saw that there was an anthology all about gaming you know I was hooked.I love anthologies. They are a great way to be introduced to a new author. They are short and sweet, but if done well hold the same impact as a longer novel. Press Start to Play is a diverse little collection. There are fantasy and sci-fi selections as well as horror and whimsy. As a while it was a strong anthology and one that I will return to again in the future.THE STORIES:God Mode // Daniel H Wilson: The anthology begins with a tale about an American studying abroad in Australia. There he falls for a fellow student named Sarah. When Sarah falls and hits her head the sky begins to disappear. Soon the couple finds their world slowly being derezzed around them. While I liked the story and the subtlety of it, it was not the strongest of openers. Yet I still liked it. Whose world was it to begin with in the first place?NPC // Charles Yu: What if your NPCs suddenly became playable characters and began to level up. Such is the case for one NPC who lives his life every day collecting iridium in the background, crushing on a woman, and eating Lean Cuisines. A twist of fate levels him up one day. But is it all what it is cracked up to be? I loved this story. It was funny. It was charming. And it made me think of all of those NPCs in our gaming lives.Respawn // Hiroshi Sakurazaka: The lead character is killed, but discovers his consciousness has respawned in to the body of his killer. It goes on from there. This was a great story. Loved the intro. Of course very similar to ‘All You Need is Kill’ (the film Edge of Tomorrow was based on this) which he also wrote, but in a different way. I kind of want to read his other short fiction "The Saitama Chain Saw Massacre". Nice addition.Desert Walk // S. R. Mastrantone: Desert Walk is a game that Sam has wanted forever. Not only was it cancelled, but the only copies that exist are the demos which happen to have the full game on it. There are stories about the game, odd things that people have found and now Sam gets to see what all the fuss is about. The game is simple really; you walk through the desert. Except maybe there is more to the game than he thought. Maybe there are some things that don’t belong in the game. Maybe there was a reason why it was cancelled. One of the first horror tinged stories of the anthology and I loved it. Nice.Rat Catcher’s Yellows // Charlie Jane Anders: A degenerative neurological disorder has torn through the populous in this dystopian laced world. When our lead finds a game that brings her partner back she is all for the therapeutic nature of it. Even if the game is a Renaissance MMP completely populated by cats. Also there needs to be this game IRL. I like Charlie Jane Anders for many reasons and while I have not picked up her debut novel, this gave me a slight taste of what to expect. And I am intrigued. Good story.1UP // Holly Black: Yay text adventures. Three friends attend the funeral of their online gaming friend. While at the reception they find a text based game on his computer. It was supposed to give them answers about his death. It becomes all too real. I love you Holly. You rock. Such a good story.Survival Horror // Seanan McGuire: Set in the InCryptid verse, this stars my fave ship of Artie and Sarah. A harmless day of hanging out turns into a life or death situation when they are both sucked into Artie’s new videogame. Survive or die. It was cute, but I imagine that those who have not read the series might be a little bit lost as it feels very much like a missing ‘episode’. Gold star for all the comic mentions. Oh Seanan, you big geek. :)Real // Django Wexler: ARG is an exciting subgenre of games. In this game, players use various forms of social media and their own phones to discover demons and hidden runes. A journalist is trying to uncover the truth about the game, especially since many players think its real. Is it? Great story. I now want to go grab some ARGs.Outliers// Nicole Feldringer: Our player is obsessed with a game that tracks weather patterns. So obsessed that she even skipped her brother’s wedding in person. But she soon realizes that there does not seem to be a way to win. However, she is determined. What is the game for and what is the point? The first weak outing of the anthology in my opinion. I really didn’t like the protagonist, the pacing was slow, and it just wasn’t for me.End Game // Chris Avellone: Another text based adventure story where you, as the reader, read through the commands. Like the homage, but the ending was a little disappointing.Save me PLZ // David Barr Kirtley: It begins with Meg getting in car to go find her ex-boyfriend Devon. Insert giant spiders and her quest not going as some had planned. Love Meg. Loved her badassness. Love how it ended. Great story.The Relive Box // T.C. Boyle: Grief is a powerful thing as is regret and our memories. One father is obsessed with reliving the moments he had with his wife, but in the process destroys the relationship with his daughter whom his wife left behind as well. Convinced he can see where it all went wrong he spends more time in VR instead of making new memories with his daughter. Could VR really rule our lives? If I had a holodeck? Maybe? No probably. The Rogue and I would just spend our days adventuring in various games, movies, and books. I like the ideas behind this, the ideas Boyle was trying to explore, but it didn’t quite work for me. I wish I could pinpoint why.Roguelike // Marc Laidlaw : Oh Rogue likes and your tombstones of doom. So perfect. The Rogue (thus named because of his online moniker and his love for playing and creating roguelikes himself) really enjoyed it as well. If you have not played a rogue like before I can see why you may not enjoy it as much. If you have not played a roguelike I insist that you go play one now. Dwarf Fortress is a great one to start with.All of the People in Your Party Have Died // Robin Wasserman Oregon Trail was a staple in my younger years. In this story the game becomes a little creepy as the game starts bleeding into real life. I liked it and yet I was disappointed by it. I like the horror elements, but I wanted more. I feel like it fell apart slightly at the end.Recoil // Micky Neilson: Jimmy is at the office late trying to beta a new game. Bad night to do it though, when he finds himself part of a hostage situation. Nice twist. Thought I had it all figured out, but not quite.Anda’s Game // Cory Doctorow: Anda is your average girl in real life, but in the virtual world she is elite, kicks ass, and fights like a girl. When she discovers some secrets about her virtual life, she has an important decision to make. Who hoo lady gamers who kick ass. While I know better than to start an MMO (Hello lack of willpower on my end…no one would ever see me again) this was good. It touched on a lot of different themes and gaming issues. There are people who farm and groups who have industrialized certain games. Loved seeing girls kick butt. Heavier themes here, but enough humor and action to balance it out.Coma Kings // Jessica Barber: Two sisters bonded over Coma. Both are incredibly talented within the game, but one became so obsessed that she implanted the game directly into her brain. Now her sister is just trying to find a way to reconnect. Interesting concept.Stats // Marguerite K. Bennett: Joey is not a good man. Maybe that is why someone is teaching him a lesson by messing with his stats in real life. A revenge story that is kind of creepy from both sides. Joey is an asshat sure, but….Please Continue // Chris Kluwe: Chris Kluwe, former NFL player and ginormous geek writes a story that talks about the power gamer. As a woman who knows a few powergamers who are obsessed with grinding, finding the loopholes and glitches, and making sure you never miss a raid night, I get it. But everyone games differently. I like the immersion and escape. Others view the game as a problem and want to solve it more than escape into it. To each their own (unless you are trying to do multiplayer story mode with that above mentioned gamer set and want to solve things your own way and not skip the story bits). I can see why some may not like this story, but I enjoyed it.Creation Screen // Rhianna Pratchett: Oh how much time I spend creating characters (looking at you Dragon’s Dogma). Poor character. This story is from their point of view. The spark of life, the painful physical transformations and modifications, the first glimpse of a new world, and having to comply with commands that may differ from their desires. I liked this story. Sorry character. Really I am.The Fresh Prince of Gamma World // Austin Grossman: Post-apocalyptic Boston for the win. I don’t want to give too much away, but I now want to go play Fallout 4 again. Great world building, nice pacing, and some nice twists to boot.Gamer’s End // Yoon Ha Lee: War games. Literally. A simulation turns a little too real. Love the idea, but for some reason it just wasn’t my cup of tea.The Clockwork Soldier // Ken Liu: Alex is tasked to bring back runaway Ryder back to his family. Another text based gaming story and yet different. I loved the android bits (I am currently watching the first season of Humans on AmazonPrime). I think this would make a great Outer Limits episode.Killswitch // Catherynne M. Valente: An interesting outing, this one involves a game full of ghosts who haunt the mines and machinery. It also parallels the real mining industry and deals with themes like gaming versus real life. There are no respawns, just one shot. Interesting as is most of Valente’s works.Twarrior // Andy Weir: Oh how I love Weir, not because he wrote the Martian, but because he’s a big nerd and I love nerds. So so funny this story. A programmer creates a program to run for a billion seconds and to learn what it can. Over 30 years later the AI returns, self-aware, intelligent, and…who speaks only in slang. This is what happens when you learn from the interwebs.Select Character // Hugh Howey: Another story that I don’t want to give away too much about, but let’s just say it involves a gaming urban legend and a wife who plays her husband’s video games. I liked it. Not the strongest ending, but one that made me smile.Buy or Borrow: Buy. If you are a fan of video games in general this a great little anthology.Part of: StandaloneAlso Recommended: For more gaming themed books try Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and Arena by Holly Jennings.

  • Shayla Gibson
    2019-02-17 04:40

    God Mode—Daniel H. Wilson: Is the apocalypse here? or is it all in your head? 3/5NPC—Charles Yu: I didn't really "get" this one, I guess. I think it's supposed to be a "be happy with what you have" story, but it feels equally like a "don't bother trying new things/improving your lot, you're better off as a nobody" moral. 1/5Respawn—Hiroshi Sakurazaka (translated by Nathan Collins): Interesting story with several circles of unexpected connections and an ambiguous ending. 5/5Desert Walk—S.R. Mastrantone: This one went along as a mystery but then hooked into horror at the end. Definite creep factor! 4/5Rat Catcher’s Yellows—Charlie Jane Anders: Pondering the complexities of how human minds and computers may or may not interact, and how altering brain function alters that interaction. 5/51Up—Holly Black: Not quite a murder mystery, but leaning that way. A group of internet game friends meets up for the first time in real life to go to their mutual friend's funeral. 5/5Survival Horror—Seanan McGuire: Antimony and Artie and a "straight-forward point-and-click puzzle game that might or might not be planning to suck [them] both into an unspeakable hell dimension if [they do] it wrong. No pressure." My only complaint is that it felt like the conclusion was too simple/short. 5/5 REAL—Django Wexler: A little creepy, a lot pessimistic about humanity, a little new spin on an old theme. 4/5Outliers—Nicole Feldringer: Climate change wrecks everything... can you fix it playing computer games? I didn't really like the main character - I'd have been a lot more pissed at her if I were her sibling - but did like the story. 4/5—Chris Avellone: An interesting enough read, I guess, but I feel like I missed something vital in the concept. Sort of a where does the game cross over to real life situation? 3/5Save Me Plz—David Barr Kirtley (reprint): If you could find a way to introduce things from your favorite video game into the real world, would you? How far would you take it? 4/5The Relive Box—T.C. Boyle (reprint): Pretty depressing. Living in the past is not good for you - memories are meant to fade. Didn't really like this story; no real empathy or sympathy for the main character, and I would have no interest at all in the technology he's destroying his life with. It does kind of make me want to go watch Strange Daze though. 1/5Roguelike—Marc Laidlaw: Well that didn't go where I thought it was going to go. No hints though - just go read it yourself. 4/5All of the People in Your Party Have Died—Robin Wasserman: This was frustrating and depressing; I do not understand/empathize with Lizzie at all. Much more of a Beck I guess, and the whole story just felt like the character I actually liked getting sidelined and hurt. 2/5RECOIL!—Micky Neilson: Fairly interesting and fun, but I did pick up on the 'twist' quite a while before the reveal. 3/5Anda’s Game—Cory Doctorow (reprint): I've read this in a couple different iterations before, and it's still good :) Real-world consequences from in-game actions are kind of a theme in several stories I've read recently, but this one turns it around a bit, and not only has that, but also gamers using in-game actions to address real-world problems. 4/5Coma Kings—Jessica Barber (reprint): I've read this one before too, but re-read it because I couldn't really remember how it went/what the point was. Turns out it's because the point wasn't that deep or interesting. Rat Catcher's Yellows did a lot better job of engaging me in caring about the people affected by a loved one's disappearance into a game. 2/5Stats—Marguerite K. Bennett: Conflicted about this one. I disliked the main character, and did not empathize with his choices in his situation... which turned out to be what the author was going for. However, I didn't really empathize with the other significant/opposing characters either. 3/5.Please Continue—Chris Kluwe: This ended up being more of an essay about societal issues than a story, really. An essay that I mostly agree with, as it happens, but still, not a story. 2/5 for plot, 5/5 for content, I guess?Creation Screen—Rhianna Pratchett: Why must we torture our avatars so? 3/5The Fresh Prince of Gamma World—Austin Grossman: An alternate world cross-over/mix-up story, but there was something major that I think I missed in the background. Probably my shortcoming and not the author's. 3/5Gamer’s End—Yoon Ha Lee: Interesting moral dilemma story, told in second person. Good ending; I would like to read more in this universe. 5/5The Clockwork Soldier—Ken Liu (reprint): Cute, I guess, but quite predictable. 3/5Killswitch—Catherynne M. Valente (reprint): Weird; sort of a fake history doc thing? No real characters or action. Not really my thing, but it might be yours. 3/5Twarrior—Andy Weir: Cute AI creation story. 4/5Select Character—Hugh Howey: I loved this. I think these characters really need to work on their communication for the sake of their relationship, but I really liked where the story went. 5/5

  • Joshua Castleman
    2019-03-03 02:40

    It's hard to rate/review this because of the wide range of appeal in the stories. Some of the stories were brilliant, imaginative takes on what a game can do or be, and I wanted them to go on longer. Then other stories I couldn't even finish, even though they were only another 10 pages or so. I feel like I need to review each story individually because they were so different. But I won't. Though here's a list of the ones I especially liked: 1UP by Holly BlackSave Me Plz by David Barr Kirtley Anda's Game by Cory DoctorowGamer's End by Yoon Ha Lee The Clockwork Soldier by Ken Liu Killswitch by Catherynne M. Valente (even though I didn't fully get it)TWarrior by Andy WeirSelect Character by Hugh HoweyThis isn't to say none of the other stories were good, but these were my favorites that I would enjoy reading again later. And therein lies one of my other gripes with this collection: a lot of the stories were rather depressing and hopeless. That's probably one of the shared attributes of the stories I listed is that they had some sort of hope in them, even if the stories themselves weren't happy or 'fun-loving.' While I was reading the book, and kept feeling depressed after story after story, I was thinking, "This is a collection of stories about video games. Why are they all such downers? This should be fun!" Maybe too many of the authors went for the low-hanging fruit of the dangers of playing too many video games or whatnot. Perhaps that's why the stories I liked most are by the better authors who were able to look past that into the true potential of this theme.Either way, I can't say it was a waste of time. Obviously, since I finished. But I learned to have a quick trigger finger when it came to skipping stories. So that's my take on it.

  • Graham Oliver
    2019-03-02 01:42

    Official review will be up in a couple of weeks. Overall the book has some really cool ideas but needed a heavier editing hand, lots of little stylistic things that should've been fixed and bloated paragraphs that should've been trimmed. Could have been a really strong 300 page anthology instead of a very uneven 500 page one. Favorites were probably "Rat Catcher's Yellows" and "End Game". Boyle's was amazing, of course, but didn't feel like it fit with the rest of them. That said, the wide variety of approaches probably helped, overall.Edit: Full review for The Rumpus here -

  • Thom
    2019-03-09 03:36

    Great anthology; glad I could renew it at the library. All the stories have something to do with video games, and quite a few are connected to female gamers. Especially liked the more horror focused stories - All of the People in Your Party Have Died and Desert Walk. The latter reminded me of Desert Bus - if you haven't heard of that, go read about it NOW! Many of the other stories were also darn good. My overall favorite (and not just because I played Trade Wars and hosted a BBS so my friends could play) was Andy Weir's Twarrior. Overall result - collection recommended!

  • Autumn
    2019-02-18 01:36

    Really enjoyed this, review to come.If you are a gamer and a reader, you will want to delve into this anthology. I will admit that I went right to Weir's story, Twarrior, when I downloaded my NetGalley file and while I did enjoy the quick read, one of my absolute favorites turned out to be Rat Catcher's Yellows by Charlie Jane Anders.Book will be released on August 18th, go pre-order!

  • Joseph
    2019-03-12 04:53

    One excellent story: "Respawn" by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Some very good ones by Charlie Jane Anders, T.C. Boyle, Catherynne Valente, and Andy Weir. The rest ranged from "not this otherwise very good author's best work" down through "poor execution of an interesting premise" and further plumbing the depths into "unreadable garbage". Save your credits, venture into the library, check it out, and read selectively.

  • Fiction State Of Mind
    2019-03-03 00:49

    Loved this!! Even if your not a gamer the stories in this book have a lot of insights into humans interactions with technology.Stories like Holly Black's 1UP show the strength of virtual relationships in the real world, while T.C. Boyle's The Relive Box show the dangers of escaping into the past.A really nice collection of Science Fiction, Social Commentary and a dash of Horror.

  • Adam Maid
    2019-03-11 00:47

  • Kati
    2019-02-18 01:38

    A collection of good, fun, and often snarky stories if you love gaming and nerd culture

  • Benjamin Valimont
    2019-03-13 00:47

    Overall I think the whole is greater than its parts. But, this book does have 26 short stories each from a different author. As such the quality each story varies. I decided to review each individually & rank the stories from my most favorite story in the book to my least favorite. FYI--These reviews may contain spoilers.1. Twarrior (Andy Weir) 5 starsMy favorite book is the Martian. I also love his short stories. I bought this book because he wrote a story in it & he did not disappoint. This story is about a computer programmer who in college created a program to run for a billion seconds (over 31 years). In that time the program became self-aware & is now looking for its next task.2. Select Character (Hugh Howey) 5 starsA husband comes home to find his wife playing one of his video games. She had never been much of a gamer before, but had started playing when she got bored on maternity leave. However she doesn’t play the game as anyone else does.3. Anda’s Game (Cory Doctorow) 5 starsThe protagonist is a girl who likes playing a MMORPG who starts taking quests for real money. She then begins to discover why someone would pay for these quests.4. Recoil! (Micky Neilson) 5 starsThis story is heavily influenced by the movie “Die Hard.” The protagonist was allowed to use his friend’s company’s office but lost track of time playing a game. He is the only left when terrorists break into the building to steal military technology the company is working on. 5. Respawn (Hiroshi Sakurazaka) 5 starsThe story of a man who is murdered in a robbery attempt who then finds himself in his murder’s body.6. 1UP (Holly Black) 5 starsA group of gamer friends meet for the first time off-line at one of their member’s funeral. While talking in his room, they discover their friend had left them a game to play which may reveal the truth about his death.7. Desert Walk (S. R. Mastrantone) 5 starsA guy finally gets his hands on an extremely rare old school game that never made it to mass market. Only a few copies were ever made. The game is not very exciting but it has a clouded history.8. All of the People in Your Party have Died (Robin Wasserman) 5 stars The story is set in the early 1990’s & is about a new teacher who gets hooked on the game “Oregon Trail.” But then the game starts predicting when & how her friends & family will die in the future.9. Killswitch (Catherynne M. Valente) 5 starsA cryptic story of a video game about escaping from a haunted mine. 10. Save Me Plz (David Barr Kirtley) 5 starsA women gave her boyfriend an ultimatum, her or the game he was obsessed over. He chose the game. Fast forward a few months & she discovers he has gone missing. When finds him, she learns he has found a way to turn the real world into his game.11. Real (Django Wexler) 4 starsA game developer finds that the evil characters he developed has become real.12. Survival Horror (Seanan McGuire) 4 starsIn a supernatural world, they also have video games—only theirs can suck you into a pocket dimension where you will stay if you don’t win the game.13. Outliers (Nicole Feldringer) 4 starsA girl gets obsessed with getting first place a game that is intended to help crowd-source climate modeling. She then finds out that the game is rigged & sets out to fix it.14. The Clockwork Soldier (Ken Liu) 4 starsBounty & Bounty hunter bound over a text based game & discussing whether androids should be allowed to be self-aware.15. Rat Catcher’s Yellows (Charlie Jane Anders) 3 starsA mysterious illness starts to beset some of the public. Their loved ones find that the only thing the can do for the ill is let them play this one game. I didn’t like how the story abruptly ended without really resolving anything.16. The Relive Box (T.C. Boyle) 3 starsThis is a story about a divorced father becoming obsessed with a machine that lets you relive your past experiences. The story is mainly about him shirking his responsibilities to his work & daughter to have more time on the machine.17. Creation Screen (Rhianna Pratchett) 3 starsThis story is about an avatar becoming self-aware. She longs that she could explore the real world but knows she never will. 18. God Mode (Daniel H. Wilson) 3 starsThe story is about the world fading away until it is only this one couple & then they fade away as well.19. The Fresh Prince of Gamma World (Austin Grossman) 3 starsA young man finds himself going back and forth between two different realities. One is the normal world & one is a post-apocalyptic world.20. NPC (Charles Yu) 3 starsA background nobody finds himself becoming a more important figure.21. Gamer’s End (Yoon Ha Lee) 3 starsA military recruit is put into a simulation but halfway through, he realizes it is no longer a simulation.22. Stats (Marguerite K. Bennett) 2 starsA douchebag wakes up to find his appearance changing throughout the day.23. Coma Kings (Jessica Barber) 2 starsThe story is about a girl named Jennifer & her relationship with her mother & sister. The two sisters become obsessed with a game. Annie got so addicted to it that she hardwired her brain to the game. It takes more money than the family has to keep Annie hooked up. They know have to decide whether or not to pull the plug on her, which would mean her death.24. Endgame (Chris Avellone) 2 starsThis wasn’t really much of a story. It was really just commands to an avatar.25. Roguelike (Marc Laidlaw) 2 starsThis was not a story. It was only tombstones.26. Please Continue (Chris Kluwe) 1 starThis story suffers from the fact it is written in the first person & in the present tense. Furthermore the author decided to have the story jump a few years ahead at times & then describe what happened in those years still while using the present tense—very confusing. The story itself is about one person’s exploits in a game & ends with a lecture on not wasting too much time on video games.

  • Tania
    2019-02-25 05:30

    This was fun. And now I have to play a video game. Dragon Age, here I come.

  • Alan
    2019-03-12 03:38

    "What's real is just an accident. No one designed reality to be compelling." He gestured to the screen. "But a fantasy world is so designed. It takes the most interesting things that ever existed—like knights in armor and pirates on the high seas—and combines them with the most interesting things that anyone ever dreamed up—fire-breathing dragons and blood-drinking vampires. It's the world as it should be, full of wonder and adventure. To privilege reality simply because it is reality just represents a kind of mental parochialism."—from "Save Me Plz," by David Barr Kirtley, pp. 205-206 (emphases in original)I've got to admit, I took a long time to play through this anthology, even though I could save my progress and continue from my last bookmark rather than having to respawn from the Introduction every time. The irony is not lost on me that this was due largely to the ever-present clamor of electronic distractions (from binge-watching "Awake" and "Orphan Black" to keeping up with my blogroll to a couple of addictive iPad apps I won't name here).Reading Press Start to Play slowly may be a good idea anyway, though. The theme is fairly constricted and, although the stories herein do offer more variety than I'd expected, they still seemed all too often to hit the same repetitive notes—the perils of becoming immersed in virtual reality; old-school text adventures that are connected to (or that take over) reality; what if what we think is reality is really just a simulation; games from the viewpoint of the NPCs (Non-Player Characters) in the background... odds are you've already read at least one story like this, somewhere, even if you haven't read these particular tales.Still, though, this is a collection of pretty good stories. I wasn't so much impressed with the bigger names—Daniel H. Wilson's slender "God Mode," which leads off this anthology; T.C. Boyle's "The Relive Box," which I'd already read elsewhere; Cory Doctorow's "Anda's Game"... no, the freshest and most interesting work here came from lesser-known authors (or, well, authors I don't know as well, anyway).A couple of exceptions: Yoon Ha Lee, who is always a pleasure to encounter. Her story "Gamer's End" inverts the usual videogame tropes to good effect. As does Andy Weir (author of The Martian) in "Twarrior," actually, one of the strongest stories in this anthology—despite Weir's character's use of some pretty objectionable (albeit realistic) language. That one reminded me of Thomas J. Ryan's classic novel The Adolescence of P-1.But in general it was the more obscure writers and works—the aforementioned David Barr Kirtley story; the creepiness of the anti-game in "Desert Walk" by S.R. Mastrantone; Robin Wasserman name-checking Oregon Trail in "All of the People in Your Party Have Died"—that most piqued my interest.Despite Press Start to Play's slender starting point, editors Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams have put together a solid anthology here—one which, if nothing else, should help while away the time during those long downloads...

  • Acequeenking
    2019-03-06 05:45

    TL;DR: An alright collection of stories that are (mostly) focused around videogames, but few have anything amazing to say. As usual with short stories, I'm reviewing the stories individually: “God Mode” by Daniel H. Wilson is quite a clunker, unfortunately. A man is carrying for his girlfriend who hit her head and fell into a coma, and their world starts falling away around them. Neither explicitly about games nor is it well tied in to anything in regard to the central topic beyond the fragility of virtual worlds. It's only tenuously related to the main connection, and ultimately I didn't feel like it was thematically relevant. That isn't to say that it isn't written well, though; it's a good story, just not one that I think really matches this topic.“NPC” by Charles Yu is, thankfully, more interesting. The story Yu writes is of a non-player-character in a virtual world who longs to get the girl, go on adventures, etc. Although he achieves these things, he finds that success is not as sweet as he thought it would be. This is an interesting tale that puts a traditional heroes journey into a virtual world, and how it works within that architecture is well-executed.“Respawn” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka is beautifully written, but how much it connects to the theme of the book is up for debate. A man is killed and jumps into the body of his killer, and continually jumps on and on and on after each death he suffers. I'm torn on this, because this is undoubtedly the best story in the collection and the only one that I think everyone should read. However, the plot is only at best tangentially related to gaming, save that the realization of what type of game you're in depends largely on your protagonist, as the main character travels between Cooking Mama to Grand Theft Auto and everything inbetween. “Desert Walk” by S. R. Mastrantone is a digital ghost story; a man unearths an infamous game beta and finds out that its source code is anything but benevolent. Interesting if a bit pulpy; I felt like the ending was disappointing but greatly enjoyed the build up to the reveal. “Rat Catcher’s Yellows” by Charlie Jane Anders is a really intriguing and sad story about how games can serve as escapism for people with disabilities/illnesses. Short, devastating, and beautiful, it let me wanting more yet simultaneously dreading it.“1UP” by Holly Black is an alright teenage YA mystery story. A group of online friends travel to their friend's "funeral" but realize they might be able to save him if they pay attention to the clues they left behind. It's not bad and it's a quick read, but it didn't stick with me for long after I read it.“Survival Horror” by Seanan McGuire is the most skippable story in the collection. It involves characters from her InCryptid series (which I have not read, to be fair) trying to solve a fiendish puzzle game. The solution to their plight is so ridiculous in this story that I felt like it was cheating. Perhaps this is better if you're familiar with the InCryptid novels, but overall I thought this was really disappointing.“Real” by Django Wexler was my second favorite tale in the series. The creators of an online ARG/RPG winds up ensnared by their own, literal demons; the story of loss as told by the last survivor. Fabulously executed and powerfully told; the ending is unexpected, but well-written.“Outliers” by Nicole Feldringer is another dud in the collection. A woman collects weather information from the government in a "game" (ie basically meteorology's google maps) and skips her brother's wedding to find out more about the weather patterns. The narrator is unlikable, the weather story is boring. Not great.“End Game” by Chris Avellone is just alright. A man lives in an old school adventure game (think Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and grues). Very repetitive and the "twist" was well...meh.“Save Me PLZ” by David Barr Kirtley is an absolute stand-out and another story I feel is unskippable in this collection. A young woman is tasked with a real-life RPG to save her boyfriend; however, the story changes once she meets him, and you realize that the boyfriend is more Bowser than Prince Peach. Well-written and powerful. “The Relive Box” by T.C.Boyle is a good sci-fi story, but has nothing to do with gaming or gaming culture. A widower spends countless hours with his deceased wife in a box that lets him replay his memories; this causes his daughter grief, both due to the time lost and the fact that bans her from using it often. Not a bad sci-fi story, but not related to gaming much, if at all.“Roguelike” by Marc Laidlaw is a welcome humorous story that again takes up the challenge of old school Sierra-style games. The written transcript of a persistent if not well funded rebellion and their agents attempts to infiltrate a castle in the virtual world in preparation for the infiltration and assassination of the ruler in the real world. Funny, plays well with old-school concepts like Sierra bullshit deaths. “All of the People in Your Party Have Died” by Robin Wasserman is another stand-out in this mostly meh collection. A young lesbian teacher falls in love with another teacher at school, and with Oregon Trail. She becomes obsessed with the game, even as those around her die of AIDS. Powerful period piece with a difficult story. “Recoil” By Micky Neilson is pretty meh and, again, tangentially related to gaming at best. A young man stays at his friend's job to watch him test a game, but unexpectedly becomes the tested when a Russian group comes in and starts shooting. Pretty meh, and more of an action story than anything about gaming. Didn't enjoy the twist ending either. “Anda’s Game” by Cory Doctorow is a decent, but not great, bildungsroman. A young girl becomes a member of a powerful Girl Gamer group, only to realize that she's secretly hurting the helpless. She must decide to stand for what she believes in. Good, fun, but not anything that stuck in my mind for long afterwards.“Coma Kings” by Jessica Barber is a sad and poignant story about two sisters, one of whom is in a coma. The two both play a game via implant, and the two chase each other around the virtual world. Ends abruptly and fizzles out despite the strong set-up. Needed another couple pages, I think.“Stats” by Marguerite K. Bennett is another story that's a strong sci-fi story but not one that belongs in this collection. A young man's form goes beserk as others change it. Good sci-fi story with an unlikable narrator getting his comeuppance but not exactly videogame focused. Feels like it's barely reaching for the theme here.“Please Continue” by Chris Kluwe is another miss. Boring, plodding, and takes far too long to reach an unsatisfying conclusion.“Creation Screen” by Rhianna Pratchett is ...alright. Kind of a cute concept, an NPC narrating her own creation and creator, but it doesn't go particularly far. Still, it doesn't overstay its welcome, and I feel like this is as far as one could take the concept. Decent, worth reading, but skippable.“The Fresh Prince of Gamma World” by Austin Grossman has a good title, but again, is just alright. A man from our world is teleported to a Falloutesque universe. Alright, but not great, and not anything particularly poignant or, really, much to do with gaming at all.“Gamer’s End” by Yoon Ha Lee is basically "Enders Game but shorter." It's alright, but not great, and the ending was expected and blah. “The Clockwork Solider” by Ken Liu is another meh story, about a bounty hunter and her captured prey. Goes where you think it's going to, a bit forgettable, and the third tale in this book to use the adventure game format. Doesn't anyone in this collection think games made after 1989 are interesting? “Killswitch” by Catherynne M. Valente is an alright story. It's a simple enough tale about how you only get one shot in life, but it's hampered by a muddled writing style (the narrative doesn't really fit the story) and again, is pretty meh. “Twarrior” by Andy Weir is another one that's alright. A funny tale, a few laughs, but it's rather short and doesn't cast a long shadow in your memory. Still, it doesn't outstay its welcome, either, and the laughs are good. Recommended for comedy fans, skippable for dramatists.“Select Character” by Hugh Howey is the fourth story in this game that I would consider unskippable. Like Respawn, this one deals more in gaming philosophy, in how men and women's play styles may differ and the strengths and weaknesses of both. It's well-done and one of the few in the book to make me think of it after finishing it. There are a few stong tales in this, overall, but I feel like this anthology suffers from having too many works that don't really say much about gaming in a meaningful way. Only a few really dive deep into the idea of how gaming influences culture, and most just have a moment where a game is played or is a mcguffin in the story. Read the unskippables, skim everything else for interest.

  • Angela
    2019-02-27 22:40

    An anthology about gaming? Aww, you shouldn't have!Perhaps mirroring games themselves, this anthology has some winners and some "that's not quite my taste." There was one that I simply didn't finish (what do I know about incubi? Nothing, nor do I care to), and some I could take or leave, but I present to you now my favorites of the bunch:NPC, by Charles YuBecause I'm a sucker for the background characters. An NPC inherits an identity, but is then unsure whether he truly desires an identity. Is it better to live a simple, happy life, or one where you're doing something exciting? (Pay attention to your NPCs, guys. There can be some real gems in there.)Desert Walk, by S. R. MastrantoneHorror-related tales are usually not my thing, but this is done really well. Desert Walk is a super-rare game that, apparently, all you literally do is walk across the desert. That is, until you discover things that shouldn't be in the desert. And also maybe some things the designers didn't put in the game... (I so wish there was more to this one.)End Game, by Chris AvelloneIt's set as a text-based game, but you're uncertain what's real and what's the game. There's a lot of buildup, and another one that could've used more of a conclusion. But the execution is superb. And a little creepy. With each new exploration of the game, more information is divulged, which makes the end really unsettling.The Relive Box, by T.C. BoyleThe relive box is a way to access memories, to "relive" the past via a sort of movie-viewing box. And it's sad. Both father and daughter are addicted to the box, reliving memories rather than creating new ones. It's a sort of social commentary, and it spirals out of control, and you wish so much for things to change while also knowing it's unlikely that they will. Go out and experience life, kids.Clockwork Soldier, by Ken LiuLady bounty hunter! Another one that could've been explored so much more, if there were time to explore it. Her bounty, Ryder, has a thing or two to say about society, which he does through the creation of a text-based game. A very clever text-based game. All I'm going to say is I'm a sucker for a good plot twist. And for clockwork contraptions.Select Character, by Hugh HoweyA fantastic close to the anthology. A stay-at-home mom starts playing her husband's video games out of boredom, an act he finds charming when he discovers it. But he's a backseat driver, telling her all the ways she's playing wrong, which she promptly ignores. (It's cute, trust me.) Of course, it has its own twist at the end, which is how this little domestic tale ends up on our list.All in all, an enjoyable little anthology. If you'll excuse me, I have some games to play now.

  • Harris
    2019-03-13 06:31

    This was, for the most part, an engaging and interesting collection of short stories using a variety of genres, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, to explore the vibrant field of video games and how they effect our lives. As in most anthologies, there were a few great pieces, and a few clunkers, though in my opinion they all, in different ways, reflect how games in general are a major part of human existence and some led to some thought provoking moments. As video games themselves begin to evolve into a new form of narration, these stories take the intriguing concepts and take them to new places. Video games, with their interactive bending of reality and virtual fantasy worlds, are a complex and effective lens to tackle a variety of genres and themes and the authors included make for a diverse mix of stories that go a lot of different directions. Some question how much time people devote to virtual pursuits, others reflect upon how games can change reality itself, and others the act of creation itself. The stories also riffed on various types of game as well, strategy and action, 8-bit to next gen, RPGs to FPS, with "text based" games being the most common (and in my opinion, least effective). My particular favorites were ones that discussed the ability of games to draw users into their own worlds, thinning the boundaries between reality. Whether terror ("Desert Walk" by S.R. Mastrantone or "REAL" by Django Wexler), or melancholy ("All the People in Your Party Have Died" by Robin Wasserman or "The Relive Box" by T.C. Boyle), these stories used the medium of video games to great emotional effect. A few of the stories were a bit heavy handed in their messages, however, even if I agreed with them, but "Rat Catcher's Yellows" by Charlie Jane Anders was probably the best in showing how video games can have a positive effect upon society, and was just a really interesting story as well. Probably the strangest story in the collection was "Respawn" by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, which seemed to imagine what the world would be like for some who found that they themselves operated in video game logic. All in all, this anthology would be well worth checking out for anyone interested in video games and video gaming.

  • Matthew
    2019-02-23 00:31

    I was sucked in by the vibrant colors of the cover and the promise of fictional video game nostalgia, I'll admit.I enjoyed "God Mode," "NPC." "Respawn" reminded me a little of Claire North's excellent Touch, and I liked "Desert Walk" and "Rat Catcher's Yellows" wasn't bad. So the collection was going along at an okay clip. "1UP" was a fun little chase of a story.Some of the magic of video games seems to get sucked out, dried out on a table, and then pinned into a memory book like a pixelated butterfly in fiction form, especially when the story dwells just a little too long on the description, the whimsy, and cotton-headed stupor video games can induce. It's a little like being the sober person at a raging, drink-soaked party. Maybe it's the experience of reading story after story after story about video games that you begin to feel like the kid left to the side, relegated to just watching the other kids play the video games, never getting your own chance. Which is exactly what the next story, "Survival Horror" feels like, and is about, in fact. The sense of drama, of tension, is all watered down and it takes a real effort to care about what's going to happen, even though you've been told you should care, because the stakes are high. Or so you're told."REAL" was another good story, though, with a bit more at stake, without beating you over the head with it. I thought "Roguelike" was a cute story, buried amongst the next pile, and "Twarrior" wasn't bad, nor was "Select Character," but I think by that point (those were the last two stories in the collection) I was just looking to get out more than anything.

  • Beck
    2019-02-24 02:52

    A solid collection. A few great stories, a bunch of good ones, a couple DNF.Andy Weir's story was short and funny, and I also enjoyed Holly Black's lighthearted "1Up", in which a group of teenagers play a text-based game written by their recently deceased friend about their projected experience at his funeral. The final story by Hugh Howey was touching and inspiring.I liked the story-within-a-story of Ken Liu's "Clockwork Soldier", in which the game tells a secret the main character couldn't. "Recoil!" by Micky Neilson was a good solid read with a satisfying ending. "Desert Walk" by S.R. Mastrantone was creepy and strangely affecting, even without much plot. The game is a long, unending walk through an empty desert, yet players find themselves transfixed. I found myself thinking about it for days afterwards.DNF - Outliers, Please Continue, Gamers End.

  • M
    2019-03-02 05:45

    This is a really great anthology. There's a nice mix of genres, both in terms of fantasy, sci-fi, and a bit of horror, and the genres of video games being commented on and used. There's everything from old-school text adventures to MMORPGs. These stories explore why we play video games, how we make them, how they affect us and we affect them, and even look at what the world is like for the characters in the games. There are some nice riffs on specific games, including Desert Bus. I loved most of the stories, but my favorites are probably Desert Walk, Rat Catcher's Yellows, Survival Horror, All of the People in Your Party Are Dead, and Creation Screen. There were some stories that I found mediocre or too predictable, and I was especially disappointed by the plot of the Ken Liu story, even if the idea of story telling through text adventures was kinda neat. Still, the good far outshines the bad, and proves that stories written about videogames can be just as exciting and interesting as the games themselves. I highly recommend this to anybody who likes video games or science fiction and fantasy, and it's a must read for those who love both.