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Playing the Game of Life,
This review is from: MetaGame (Paperback)
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Just going by the outline, you'd probably think you've read this kind of thing before. The concept of MetaGame is just what the title suggests - taking gaming into the level of it being your entire life. Here, the external real-world is transformed through technology to appear like a game, and by playing the game in this virtual world, you effectively contribute to the society, everything you do is rated and scored for the entertainment value it contributes or for its usefulness in maintaining the variety of products or ways by which you can view and play in the world. You can even earn points automatically by plugging product in conversations with your friends. Everyone plays the game, and why wouldn't you? Your quality of life, the health insurance and the extension of lifespan is greatly enhanced with one's participation in the game - you can even achieve immortality. Sam Landstrom's Metaworld however takes this whole concept, appropriately, to the next level.
Where there is a game there are rules and, inevitably, a hierarchy and even a kind of religious devotion is needed or is going to evolve out of this. In MetaGame, everything is overseen by the OverSoul, who is ultimately determines the points awarded or sentences when serious infractions occur. And they inevitably do, the guilty parties denominated Demons who then become targets for divine agents known as Angels, as well as providing opportunities for other Game players to earn some big points by helping to track them down. When D-Light however, participating in a select MetaGame that usually only involves royalty and their retinue, attempts a clever manoeuvre and helps a female Demon in the belief that it will help identify flaws within the system, he inadvertently and inexplicably finds himself designated a Demon himself, and subject to what could be quite serious consequences.
If that still sounds like a typical cyberpunk scenario, and tied very much into a gaming and questing model - the characters adopting avatars and suits that disguise their real identity - MetaGame excels not only through how good the writing is at making the characters and their motivations interesting and exciting as they operate in this virtual Game world, but through how well thought-through the ethical considerations are in a concept that is rich in ideas. The characters are indeed never mere avatars, but behave realistically in a world that feels completely alien but is also not so far-fetched - a reflection of how society could conceivably operate when the technology and nanotechnology is advanced enough to allow it. Who indeed would want to be a mundane, when the world and one's bodily behaviour and life can be transformed, enhanced and immeasurably improved? Handling the concept in an intelligent as well as an entertaining manner, the author makes this a thrilling and involving read, and gives the reader plenty to think about as well.