Today it’s my turn on the Mini Blog Blitz Pixeldust by T.K. Arispe.
About the Author
T. K. Arispe is an illustrator, gamer, and unashamed nerd with a background in animation and webcomic production, including the webcomic Trainer Wants to Fight! which somehow got its own page on TVTropes. She loves interesting stories, well-crafted worlds, and memorable characters, and is passionate about creating quality, intelligent, slightly offbeat media that everyone can enjoy. Most of her story ideas come from random research binges, usually in the fields of theoretical physics, computer science, or oddly enough food history. She lives in California, where she enjoys not having to deal with snow because it is terrifying.
About the book
Maria Elena thought she’d sworn off gaming forever. But she hates her new internship, so her brother Balt convinces her to play Heroes of Avonell, a cutting-edge virtual-reality video game with such complex programming that it’s like the non-player characters are self-aware.
Disappointed with the usual cliché job class offerings, Maria Elena’s character Quinny stumbles through a glitch in the game and ends up in Caed Dhraos, a strange city populated with friendly monsters. Quinny decides to work for the resident dark lord as part of his magic personnel, but she can’t tell anybody she’s playing in off-limits areas of the game—not even Balt. Soon Quinny finds herself getting to the bottom of a mystery surrounding an ancient demon and why Caed Dhraos is suffering from the Blight.
But the artificial intelligences in the game really are self-aware, and some of Avonell’s so-called “heroes” have decided they don’t like humanity very much. The game has gone out of control, and Maria Elena and her new friends have to find a way to set things right. Can she save Avonell – and Earth – while juggling her real job and trying to salvage her crumbling relationship with her brother?
Pixeldust is a dive into a fantastical, fun virtual world where the universe may be made of data, but the dangers, friendships, magic, and lessons learned are very real.
Maria Elena is unhappy in her dreary job as an accountant. She really misses the world of gaming and being able to connect with her brother through games. She promised herself that she would be more of a grown-up and stay away from the virtual temptation. Famous last words.
Her brother convinces her to have some well deserved downtime and to try out a new game. Avonell turns out to be so much more than just an RPG. It challenges her perception of games and her priorities in life, when life the game inside takes on an authenticity she just wasn’t expecting.
The plot plays on the increasingly popular topic of AI and where the lines are drawn between Artificial Intelligence and human intelligence, and how those lines are being crossed more often as technology advances.
I can imagine this is a scenario a gamer would love and perhaps quite a few readers too, when the fantasy is real and being able to immerse yourself into the game is a reality. When characters are no longer just fiction, but rather a tangible reality.
This is fantasy that fell into the YA bracket for me and would also be suitable for younger readers. Although saying fantasy, perhaps this is the start of a new sub-genre – gaming fantasy, gaming fanfic fantasy. If that’s the case then it definitely has plenty of potential as a genre and one Arispe could explore further.