Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Game For Your Life: Gamers in Teen Fiction (Kearsten)

I’ve recently lost myself in playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and it got me thinking about teen books about roleplaying games (video, computer, and tabletop), and the possible dangers/adventures that might come with an excessive amount of gaming.  I’m still waiting to be sucked into the world of the Elder Scrolls, but so far, my obsession has only annoyed my husband and daughter…
Erebos by Ursula Poznanski.  In this suspense story, Erebos, an apparently bootleg copy of a computer roleplaying game (RPG), takes over a London school as well as sixteen-year-old Nick’s life.  He’s thrilled when he finally gets a copy, and is even more delighted when he starts playing the realistic game.  Nick happily ignores homework and sleep in favor of playing Erebos, until all the weird little things he’s noticed (the game seems to know who Nick is, know when he’s not alone, know who his friends are) begin to add up to some serious unease.  And then the game asks Nick to perform tasks outside the game, in the real world. But it’s not until he’s asked to dose a teacher with a potentially lethal pills that Nick begins to fear for his own life.

Epic by Conor Kostick.  Imagine an Earth where violence is illegal, and you and your family can face serious consequences for even pretending to duel.  But don’t worry: you’re free to express all the violence you’d like in Epic, the government-mandated RPG fantasy game wherein your future – and that of all the inhabitants of this New Earth – is determined.  Play poorly and you may end up in the salt mines.  Play well and you’ll get a good job.  Play really well, and you may get the attention of the Committee, which is made up of New Earth’s best players, who actually are the government.  And the government does not like it if someone, like Epic’sfourteen-year-old narrator Erik, plays the game better than they do.

The Game of Triumphs by Laura Powell.  Yes!  A story about gaming with a girl as the main character!  (There are nowhere near as many as boys, sadly).  Fifteen-year-old Cat is pretty comfortable on her own.  Orphaned at three, she and her eccentric aunt Bel have recently moved to London, where her aunt has a job in a skeevy casino and Cat is left to her own devices most evenings, wandering the streets and riding the Underground out of boredom. Then one night, a Tarot card and a desperate, chased man change her world.  Soon she’s caught up in a game that spans worlds, and offers up both adventure and danger to its players…and may have played a role in Cat’s parents’ deaths.
Interstellar Pig by William Sleator.  And now, for an old title!  A summer at the beach may seem like the ideal vacation, but not when you have to spend it with your incredibly uncool parents.  Sixteen-year-old Barney is feeling that pain until he discovers that this year’s neighbors are young and fun.  When they invite Barney’s family over to play a board game called Interstellar Pig, he’s happy to join.  Unfortunately, he soon discovers that, like most things, their neighbors are too good to be true.  Interstellar Pig isn’t just a game: it’s real, Barney’s neighbors are aliens, and the fate of the universe is at stake.  No big deal, right?
The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini.  Perry just wants to be left alone to play Creatures & Caverns, an elaborate tabletop roleplaying game.  Having someone to play with would be ideal, but not necessary (or likely, if he’s being honest).  Unsurprisingly, Perry’s parents don’t feel it’s healthy for him, so they send him to a summer camp that happens to be full of the exact sort of male teenagers that love to beat Perry up.  But then something exciting finally happens to Perry: he’s led into another world, full of “other normals,” and there they tell him his destiny is saving their beloved princess.  The catch?  Perry has to somehow manage to kiss a gorgeous girl at the neighboring camp back on his Earth.  And Perry?  Well, he’s not so good with people, let alone girls
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