Thursday, May 08, 2008

Epic - booktalk

Because of time issues, I didn't actually present this booktalk. But here's what I would have said. My original post on this book can be found here.

by Conor Kostick

When I first started playing computer role-playing games, they were all text-based. Now they have graphics, sound, and first-person viewpoints, and I still enjoy them. From the popularity of Runescape at my library, I know I’m not alone. It’s fun to create a character and choose your attributes and then go out to battle enemies and gather treasures. But what if you weren’t playing just for fun? What if everything you did in the game affected your real life?

In Erik’s world, everyone plays the virtual reality game called Epic. And I do mean everyone. They have to play. When they do well in the game, back in the real world Central Allocations, the council that controls the world, gives them the tools and supplies they need to succeed in their real jobs. But most people don’t do well, because the game is stacked against them. It’s almost impossible to get ahead, and it’s really easy to die. And when they die, they don’t get to go back to a saved game. They start all over again at square one in the game. That means back in real life, they get almost nothing from Central Allocations. If they die too often, they don’t have what they need to do their jobs, so they’re sent to do jobs that doom them to an early death. And Erik and his parents keep dying.

His last death is the final straw for Erik. He’s through playing the game by the rules. He’s through playing strategically. His new character will be different from anything he’s ever created before. For one thing, she’ll be female. And instead of maximizing all the typical skills, such as fighting or crafts, and instead of trying to get as much magic and the best weapons he can afford, Erik throws all his attribute points into his character’s physical features. She’s beautiful. In a game where all the players are gray, angular blobs, Cindella the swashbuckler is going to really stand out.

Stand out she does. When Erik plays the game as Cindella, everything is different. For the first time, even computer-controlled characters interact with him. And what they tell him is amazing. It seems that there’s a huge treasure to be found. If Cindella can find it, she’ll be rich. And if she’s rich, so is Erik.

Erik soon realizes that Cindella might just survive long enough to find that treasure. And if she does, he’ll be wealthy enough to mount a challenge against Central Allocations. But are Erik and his team strong and skilled enough to beat them? Central Allocations is made up of the most powerful people/players in Epic. And Central Allocations doesn’t like its power threatened. The council members are prepared to take whatever steps necessary to make sure that Erik and his friends are put in their proper place. In a world where even the merest hint of violence is outlawed, all disputes are supposed to be solved inside the game of Epic and only through tournament combat. But certain members of Central Allocations think rules are for other people. Erik might not know it yet, but his life is in danger, and not just inside the game.

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Agree? Disagree? Something you'd like to say in response? Feedback is welcome! Just keep it on topic, please. And if you found one of my booktalks and used it, I'd love to know how it worked for you.