Press Start to Play by Daniel H. Wilson (& Others) | Review

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Press Start to Play by Daniel H. Wilson (& Others) | ReviewPress Start to Play by Andy Weir, Marc Laidlaw, Seanan McGuire, Austin Grossman, Holly Black, Rhianna Pratchett, Hugh Howey, Ernest Cline, John Joseph Adams, Daniel H. Wilson
Published by Vintage on August 18, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 528
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Video games are a multi-billion dollar a year industry that has outpaced movies and books combined. The humble, pixelated games of the ‘70s and ‘80s have evolved into the vivid, realistic, and immersive form of entertainment that now rivals all other forms of media for dominance in the consumer marketplace. For many, video games have become the cultural icons around which pop culture revolves.

PRESS START TO PLAY is an anthology of stories inspired by video games: stories that attempt to recreate the feel of a video game in prose form; stories that play with the concepts common (or exclusive) to video games; and stories about the creation of video games and/or about the video games—or the gamers—themselves.

These stories will appeal to anyone who has interacted with games, from hardcore teenaged fanatics, to men and women who game after their children have gone to bed, to your well-meaning aunt who won’t stop inviting you to join her farm-based Facebook games.

At the helm of this project are Daniel H. Wilson—bestselling novelist and expert in artificial intelligence—and John Joseph Adams—bestselling, Hugo Award-nominated editor of more than a dozen science fiction/fantasy anthologies and series editor of Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy (volume one forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin in 2015). Together, they have drawn on their wide-ranging contacts to assemble an incredibly talented group of authors who are eager to attack the topic of video games from startling and fascinating angles.

Under the direction of an A.I. specialist and a veteran editor, the anthology will expose readers to a strategically chosen mix of stories that explore novel video game concepts in prose narratives, such as save points, kill screens, gold-farming, respawning, first-person shooters, unlocking achievements, and getting “pwned.” Likewise, each of our authors is an accomplished specialist in areas such as science fiction, fantasy, and techno-thrillers, and many have experience writing for video games professionally.

Combining unique viewpoints and exacting realism, this anthology promises to thrill generations of readers, from those who grew up with Atari 2600s to the console and PC gamers of today.

(Last Updated On: June 1, 2022)
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For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge fan of gaming. I’ve played games all my life and grew up with a PlayStation 2 which I have been playing Guitar Hero 2 on since age 8. Yes, it’s that intense. That’s why I was so excited to read Press Start to Play!

I also love playing Xbox, Wii, and PC games. Any game console will do. That’s why the second that I saw this book, I knew I had to give it a read. Plus, it had some writing by Ernest Cline, who is my favorite author of all time.

My Thoughts on Press Start to Play

Press Start to Play did not disappoint. It was filled with video game-related short stories, some of them horror, some science fiction, and some fantasy.

Sometimes the video games would even converge with real life, and those were the ones that I ended up loving most because they were creepy! This was also my first anthology read, and I have to say that I now absolutely love short stories.

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Here are some of my favorites from Press Start to Play

NPC by Charles Yu (5/5 stars)

This short story was awesome. Basically, you are a worker on the moon collecting iridium every day and you have a crush on Carla.

One day, you level up and everything is so different, which makes you miss the days that you spent crushing on Carla, going on missions, and eating Lean Cuisines. I think the coolest thing about this one was that the main character was literally “you”, making you feel the experience even more.

Respawn by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (5/5 stars)

This short story contained a character who could respawn every time he died. If he was murdered, he became the murdered. It was the coolest concept. Imagine that happening to you; you basically could never die.

1Up by Holly Black (5/5 stars) 

This is my favorite kind of video game read; it was very Ready Player One-esque. Friends who knew a guy named Soren online all go to his funeral, only to find that he left behind a game to answer questions behind his death.

This game starts to blend into the real world in the most awesome way possible. This is definitely my favorite short story so far, and now I know why everyone loves Holly Black.

Save Me Plz by David Barr Kirtley (5/5 stars)

A short story that involves a world where elements that weren’t part of Earth suddenly are? YES PLEASE. Yet another short story that I loved! This one also featured a huge twist towards the end. Definitely worth the read!

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The Relive Box by T.C. Boyle (5/5 Stars)

I loved the idea behind the relive box… I feel like it’s definitely something that could come about in the future. It’s basically a stimulation that lets you relive anything from the past that’s happened, and you can relive it as many times as your heart desires, which is insane.

The world would never be the same and it’d definitely start to take over your life, as this short story shows.

Anda’s Game by Cory Doctorow (5/5 stars)

I read In Real Life by Cory Doctorow a few months ago and loved it, so I love how this short story was basically the same but just in writing instead of comics!

It touches on some very unique concepts that are definitely worth talking about such as child labor. I highly suggest reading this short story.

Coma Kings by Jessica Barber (5/5 stars)

I absolutely adored how this story had more than just video games; it also had a sisterly bond, though one of the sisters was in a coma.

The sister however was hooked up to the game so she was alive online, though just not in person. It was a very cool concept, I loved it!

Creation Screen by Rhianna Pratchett (5/5 stars)

Instead of reading about the gamer, this story was actually about the character in the video game! It takes the idea of role-playing to a whole new level, as the gamer is literally playing as someone else.

It was cool to get inside the head of the character that’s being forced to move around and fight things without really wanting to. 

Have you read Press Start to Play? Leave a comment with your thoughts below!

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  1. How interesting! I can honestly say I've never read a book about video games, so maybe I should add this anthology to my TBR list… I'm truly not a gamer though. I am obsessed with Diablo, but that's about as far as my experience goes! 😛

  2. This sounds so interesting, I really think my husband who is a huge gamer would really enjoy it! I had not heard of this one. Thanks for bringing it to my attention 🙂

    Ashley @The Quiet Concert

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