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What YA' Reading: Gamers

Online gaming used to be strictly a hobby for teens looking for an escape during their downtime. Now it's a booming industry that appeals to gamers of every age and talent. Gamers can monetize their gaming through live-stream pages, and anyone with talent can work to develop new games in the tech industry.

However, as with any field in the tech industry, there are some serious drawbacks to the culture surrounding video gaming. It's a male dominated field that is not only unfriendly to female gamers and developers but can actually result in harassment and bullying, which contributes to the low numbers of women in tech and the rising suicide rates among teens.

The following titles take a dive deep into the highs and lows of being a gamer in the 2020s.

Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith

Divya and Aaron are gamers with a capital G. Online Divya is D1V and the queen of Reclaim the Sun, the hottest game online. Aaron plays online games and writes them for a local developer. Somehow they both end up on the same remote planet in Reclaim the Sun. They lean on each other to tackle the game and the legion of trolls trying to harass Divya into leaving the game.

In real life Divya is using her online fame to score sponsorships to help her mom pay the rent. Aaron is at odds with his mom, who wants him to stop gaming and become a doctor like her. Soon the online and real worlds collide when the trolls begin doxxing Aaron and Divya through real world campaigns, threatening their futures and even their lives.

This book tackles the difficult conversation around the realities of sexual and racial harassment happening within gaming communities, especially live-stream gaming. The author does an excellent job of showing the wonderful positive parts of online as well as the painful negatives.

Fan the Fame by Anna Priemaza

Lainey's hateful brother is a massively popular video game streamer and she's over it. To everyone else he's funny and charming, but behind closed doors he's a sexist jerk. She's ready to show the world how awful her brother is.

To expose her brother Lainey enlists the help of fellow gamers SamTheBrave and ShadowWillow. They are in the same orbit as Lainey's brother. She plans to release a video of one of her brother's hate filled rants. The problem is that doing so will put Sam and Shadow directly in the path of the fire she's about to unleash.

Fan the Fame explores the misogyny, Internet fame and call-out culture that surrounds online gaming. The world building of the game and the development of the characters is well done. The author injects the story with their own experiences in a real way that will resonate with gaming fans.

Warcross by Marie Lu

While hacking into a game, Warcross, to track down virtual criminals, Emika makes a mistake out of desperation that reveals her identity to millions of viewers. She's then summoned by Hideo Tanaka, the billionaire inventor of Warcross, to enter the high-profile gaming world and find an elusive hacker called Zero.

Warcross explores a futurist world where gaming is a part of every day life and gamers use a brain-computer interface to play. This future society is well developed and the world building is incredible. It's full of mystery and suspense with a dash of romance and SciFi to it. Described by Publishers Weekly as "The Hunger Games meets World of Warcraft," it's easy to see this world as a possible future with a dystopian flare.

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