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Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

Summer Learning Track: Games & Gamers

Gamers waiting for this year's E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) can pause their salivating over the coming year's releases and try out some fiction and nonfiction that will transport them into gaming worlds just as well as their 1080p, 60fps escapes. Several of these titles are also available in ebook and audiobook formats.

Below are recommended reads, including these depictions of gaming gone wrong:

  • Ready Player One
  • REAMDE
  • Eye of Minds
  • You
  • Level Up

As well as these nonfiction accounts of the world of game creation and culture:

  • Console Wars
  • Smartbomb
  • Reality Is Broken
  • Extra Lives
  • Hyrule Historia
  • Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks

There are plenty of options for gamers to play in the library, including these opportunities:

  • Regular gaming hours in the Teen Center at Richland Library Main: 2:30-5:30 on the PS3/4, Xbox 360/One, and Wii U (ages 12-18 only)
  • Tabletop games in the Teen Center Creative Lab at Richland Library Main 
Play it Loud!                                                                                      
Bring your friends and make some noise playing Wii, Xbox, or PS4 games on a projected screen and tabletop games. 
2 p.m., Wednesdays, June 10-24 -- Northeast (ages 10+)
2 p.m., Thursday, July 23 -- Sandhills (for teens)
2 p.m., Tuesdays, July 7 - August 4 -- Northeast (ages 10+)
 
Xbox Tournament
Challenge your friends to a round of video games. 
5:30 p.m., Monday, July 13 -- Eastover
 
Video Game Maker—Teen Tech
Games wanted! Join us for this program where you will go online and begin to create your very own video game 
3 p.m., Wednesday, August 5 -- Eastover

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Amazon Says: At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love more...
Amazon Says: At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed. It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.   For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.    A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready? – Bloomberg, Best Books of 2016 less...
Amazon

Reamde: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
Amazon Says: “Stephenson has a once-in-a-generation gift: he makes complex ideas clear, and he makes them funny, heartbreaking, and thrilling.”—TimeThe #1 New York Times bestse more...
Amazon Says: “Stephenson has a once-in-a-generation gift: he makes complex ideas clear, and he makes them funny, heartbreaking, and thrilling.”—TimeThe #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Neal Stephenson is continually rocking the literary world with his brazen and brilliant fictional creations—whether he’s reimagining the past (The Baroque Cycle), inventing the future (Snow Crash), or both (Cryptonomicon). With Reamde, this visionary author whose mind-stretching fiction has been enthusiastically compared to the work of Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Kurt Vonnegut, and David Foster Wallace—not to mention William Gibson and Michael Crichton—once again blazes new ground with a high-stakes thriller that will enthrall his loyal audience, science and science fiction, and espionage fiction fans equally. The breathtaking tale of a wealthy tech entrepreneur caught in the very real crossfire of his own online fantasy war game, Reamde is a new high—and a new world—for the remarkable Neal Stephenson. less...
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The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Amazon Says: From James Dashner, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, comes the first book in the bestselling Mortality Doctrine series, an edge-of-your- more...
Amazon Says: From James Dashner, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, comes the first book in the bestselling Mortality Doctrine series, an edge-of-your-seat cyber-adventure trilogy that includes The Rule of Thoughts and The Game of Lives.  Includes a sneak peek of The Fever Code, the highly anticipated conclusion to the Maze Runner series—the novel that finally reveals how the Maze was built!       The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and the more hacking skills you have, the more fun it is. Why bother following the rules when it’s so easy to break them? But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And one gamer has been doing exactly that, with murderous results.      The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid, to the back alleys and corners of the system human eyes have never seen—and it’s possible that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.   Praise for the Mortality Doctrine Series: “Dashner takes full advantage of the Matrix-esque potential for asking ‘what is real.’” —io9.com   “Set in a world taken over by virtual reality gaming, the series perfectly capture[s] Dashner’s hallmarks for inventiveness, teen dialogue and an ability to add twists and turns like no other author.” —MTV.com   “A brilliant, visceral, gamified mash-up of The Matrix and Inception, guaranteed to thrill even the non-gaming crowd.” —Christian Science Monitor less...
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You by Austin Grossman
Amazon Says: When Russell joins Black Arts games, brainchild of two visionary designers who were once his closest friends, he reunites with an eccentric crew of nerds hacking the frontiers more...
Amazon Says: When Russell joins Black Arts games, brainchild of two visionary designers who were once his closest friends, he reunites with an eccentric crew of nerds hacking the frontiers of both technology and entertainment. In part, he's finally given up chasing the conventional path that has always seemed just out of reach. But mostly, he needs to know what happened to Simon, his strangest and most gifted friend, who died under mysterious circumstances soon after Black Arts' breakout hit. As the company's revolutionary next-gen game is threatened by a software glitch, Russell finds himself in a race to save his job, Black Arts' legacy, and the people he has grown to care about. The deeper Russell digs, the more dangerous the glitch appears--and soon, Russell comes to realize there's much more is at stake than just one software company's bottom line. less...
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Amazon Says: An amazing journey through the thriving worlds of fantasy and gaming. In this enthralling blend of travelogue, pop culture analysis, and memoir, forty-year-old former Dunge more...
Amazon Says: An amazing journey through the thriving worlds of fantasy and gaming. In this enthralling blend of travelogue, pop culture analysis, and memoir, forty-year-old former Dungeons & Dragons addict Ethan Gilsdorf embarks on a quest that begins in his own geeky teenage past and ends in our online gaming future. He asks, Who are these gamers and fantasy fans? What explains the irresistible appeal of such "escapist" adventures? And what could one man find if he embarked on a journey through one fantasy world after another? In Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, Gilsdorf crisscrosses America, the world, and other worlds--from Boston to Wisconsin, France to New Zealand, and Planet Earth to Middle-earth to the realm of Aggramar. He asks D&D players, LARPers, medieval re-eanctors, World of Warcraft players, Harry Potter fans and convention goers--old, young, male, female, able-bodied and disabled--what attracts them to fantasy worlds, and for what reasons. What he discovers is funny, poignant, and enlightening. less...
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