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Dangerous Games: How to Play
by Manda C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/09/2013 18:50:20
I picked up an ebook of one of Matt Forbeck’s recent 12-for-12 novels that he funded through Kickstarter last year, titled Dangerous Games: How to Play and let me tell you, I think that this is poised to become the gamer holiday classic we’ve been waiting for.

The premise is simple: ’twas the eve before Gen Con and all through Indianapolis…well, you get the picture. It’s the Wednesday night before Gen Con kicks off officially and a well known game designer is found dead. When it’s clearly a murder, industry hopeful and recent graduate of police academy, Liam Parker, is called in by the convention organizers to serve as a liason to the police and help crack the case. Though it’s the first in a series, the book very much stands alone…and will make you want to keep reading the rest.

The plot is a little silly—at times there are some very geeky jokes and case connections that only a gamer would pick up, but more importantly it’s a fun read. Forbeck perfectly captures the Gen Con experience, from piling into the hotel with suitcases full of games and waiting in line for that must-have new release to the late night shenanigans and the overwhelming feeling of stepping into the convention hall for the first time. Last year was my very first Gen Con, so the memories were still very fresh in my brain, but the descriptions of Liam’s first encounter with the massive event were enough to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…you know, despite the whole chain-of-murders thing.

One thing that struck me as rather odd toward the beginning, however, was getting used to seeing the names of real people show up in the text. Right away we’re introduced to folks like Matt Forbeck (yes, the author himself,) Kenneth Hite, Lisa Stevens, Robin Laws, and so on. On one hand, it was fun to laugh at the descriptions of people I knew, on the other—the story is fiction, and the lack of fictitious characters was jarring at first. Not to mention the fact that the main character is fictional, it left a strange feeling of curiosity as I considered what was real and what wasn’t.

The book also does start out with a small amount of game jargon—if you aren’t familiar with some game design terms, you might be a little confused as to what Liam Parker’s new game is about, but that passes quickly and it’s easy enough to fall in step with the story. Another interesting aspect to this is how the fictional counterparts to real life game designers are full of actual, good advice for aspiring industry professionals. Notably, at times it feels like we’re beaten over the head with the reminder that game designers aren’t paid very well, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does often walk the line between a recurring joke and a somber reminder of what game design is really like.

As always, Forbeck’s writing is very engaging and well paced, with a detailed setting that shows his experience with worldbuilding and game design, even in a book that is set in a world unlike our own. Not only did he capture the Gen Con spirit perfectly, but has a fun, engaging story that keeps you guessing and interested at every turn. Whether you’re a Gen Con veteran or only dream of setting foot at a gaming convention, it’s a great, quick read for anyone with a love for gaming. I have no doubt that it will quickly become a must read around convention season, and I know I’ll probably be picking it up again next year when the mood strikes and I get that Gen Con excitement all over again.

Since this is also the first in a series, I’m looking forward to reading the rest. While the first was certainly wrapped up well, I love the idea of returning to Liam Parker’s version of Gen Con…though I might save the sequel for after this year’s convention, to help recover from the woe of returning to the real world!

If you’ve read Dangerous Games: How To Play, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Likewise, if you’d like to check it out for yourself, you can find a Kindle edition on Amazon for $4.99, or visit our friends over at DriveThruFiction for a multi-format digital bundle (also $4.99) or a hard copy, if you prefer keeping it on the shelf.

I really recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan of gaming, conventions, or anything even kind of like that. Reading it really made me feel like a kid again, reading books about summer camp in the weeks leading up to my own trip…except, again, aside from the whole chain-of-murders thing.

See you in Indianapolis—either in real life or between the pages of Dangerous Games: How to Play!

---------------------

Originally posted on 8/6/13 at http://charismabonus.com/cha/2013/08/book-review-a-gen-con-m-
urder-mystery/

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dangerous Games: How to Play
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Dangerous Games: How to Cheat
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/02/2013 11:11:28
Told in an engaging first person style this is a light-hearted yet taut murder mystery notable for two things: it's set at a role-playing convention (Gen Con, no less) and within the first page the author turns up as a character whom the narrator meets! Don't think I've seen that conceit very often...

It's got the flavour of a game convention, the gathering of like-minded souls, the meeting of people for whom gaming is their trade and those for whom it's just an obsession, the chatter... if you've ever been to a convention you will soon feel at home and probably half-recognise at least a few of the characters. In places its a bit self-indulgent, the 'in crowd' of names you've probably only seen on book covers, but it is written in such an engaging style that you feel a part of it. (Watch out next convention - the names you recognise here are not completely like this in real life!)

Oh. And most murders only happen in character in the gaming hall. Just thought I should mention that.

Fun. Fluff. Eminently readable. Something to curl up with and enjoy....

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dangerous Games: How to Cheat
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Matt Forbeck's Brave New World: Revolution
by Paul S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2012 04:12:28
I should probably start this review by saying I am a big fan of the Brave New World rpg, on which this material is based. That said, if you enjoyed the game (or at the very least the setting for it) then this book is an excellent addition to all of that material.

Detailing the events of Patriot's capture and the efforts of the Defiance to break him out of prison before he can be executed, it is told with a first person structure from multiple viewpoints that works reasonably well, and each chapter is titled with the name of the person you'll be sharing headspace with. The plot is well paced and keeps the story rocketing along at a pretty frenetic rate. There are few pauses in this novel and, really, you don't need any.

As part of Matt Forbeck's Brave New World trilogy (the first in his 12 for 12 series sets, where he writes 12 novels over the course of 2012) it is lots of fun and the end leaves plenty of room for Forbeck to continue his exploration of this world, including leaving the ending with a few questions still unanswered and the suggestion of plenty more to come...just like the rpg books did.

If you like the idea of people with superpowers, in a dystopian setting where Pressident Kennedy is one of the bad guys, and enjoy a no-holds barred romp of a story then you could do a lot worse than give this a try.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Matt Forbeck's Brave New World: Revolution
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