Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wizards of the Game, by David Lubar (2003)

I picked this up because it appeared on a list of recommended books about gaming. I'll have to change the search to video-gaming. The plot of this book centers around the older version of gaming involving cards and face-to-face activities. The main character, Mercer, is an 8th grader. He is totally absorbed in a game similar to dungeons and dragons.

He persuades the school authorities to have a gaming fund raiser. One of the other students on the planning team is a conservative Christian who begins a political/religious initiative to ban the game on school grounds based on the idea that it is devil/demon worship.

Meanwhile, Mercer begins to attract a following of homeless folks who believe themselves to be wizards. At the end Mercer ends up having to deal with all these various special interest groups.

Lubar has written an accessible book that will prompt deep thinking about conservative Christian pressures, gaming, and our perceptions of reality. Even though it wasn't really what I was looking for, I will include it in my recommended reading list. It does deserve a warning. There are some parents who would object to its treatment of "demonic influences on children" and apparent questioning of religious groups. With that warning, I think there are a lot of 6th & 7th graders who would really enjoy the book. Some older students with reading delays would also find it enjoyable. Although I don't see as many students playing the card-based fantasy games any longer, I think they will find the premise compatible with the video games they play.

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