Books for Gamers: Video Games in Popular Fiction for Adults, Teens & Kids
Grab your controllers, gamers, because Sunday, September 12 was Video Games Day. Video games really do deserve their own day. Actually, in 2021, maybe even a whole month.
Video games have entertained us endlessly during lockdowns. They have kept us connected to friends we couldn’t see in person. And studies are increasingly showing that gaming can have positive effects on stress levels and anxiety. Alongside the growing popularity of video games is the infusion of gaming culture with other forms of media. Fiction has also seen this trend.
Books about virtual worlds aren’t exactly new, thanks to the pioneering work of William Gibson (author of Neuromancer), Neal Stephenson (author of Snow Crash) and others. But while they were once relegated to a niche market, gaming fiction has now hit the mainstream. You won't need to head to the science fiction shelves to find these titles, which incorporate gaming with other genres such as thrillers, contemporary fiction and even romance.
And don’t worry, parents, we haven’t forgotten about your kids. Gaming fiction is booming across all age groups, so we’ve included books for your teens and kids, too.
Gamers IRL & Other Books for Adults
In case you're wondering, IRL stands for In Real Life. You'll find a lot of books that explore the inner lives of gamers on this list.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Published in 2011, Ready Player One put gaming fiction on the map. Taking place in a future dystopian society, its protagonist leaps headfirst into a virtual world to solve a hidden puzzle that will unlock the gates to fame and fortune. If you’ve already read it but didn’t know there’s a sequel, be sure to check out 2020's Ready Player Two.
We are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth
In this new release, a female video game coder who calls out toxic masculinity in the workplace becomes the target of a group of male gamers online and IRL.
The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver
After a young woman goes missing in Silicon Valley, the man sent to find her is thrust into the world of a mysterious video game and the Dark Web. This is the first book in a series featuring investigator Colter Shaw.
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
A boy programmer meets a girl programmer and they work together to create a video game while navigating coming-of-age angst. The 1980's cultural references may please fans of Ready Player One.
Loathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park
In this light romantic comedy, a female video game producer facing sexism in the workplace designs a game featuring male strippers in a post-apocalyptic world. Meanwhile, she finds herself increasingly attracted to her annoying intern.
A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
A dad and his autistic son learn to connect while playing Minecraft in this novel that is sure to tug at your heartstrings.
Cyberpunk Meets Social Justice & Other Books for Teens
In the Library’s Youth Hubs, we are anxiously awaiting the green light to start offering video game programming again. At S. Walter Stewart Branch, we have a brand new Nintendo Switch and PS4 burning a hole in our pockets, as well as an Oculus Quest 2 and PlayStation VR.
In the meantime, we’ll be satisfied with these novels based on gaming.
Last Reality series by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller
A group of friends discover what happens when VR and IRL merge in these techno-thrillers. Start with Book 1: Otherworld.
In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang
In this graphic novel, a teen who plays a girl’s only massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) discovers that another player is being exploited for profit, and tries to help.
Warcross series by Marie Lu
Teenage hacker turned bounty hunter Emika Chen glitches herself into a game and soon finds herself embroiled in a world of fame, espionage and danger. Start with Book 1: Warcross.
Slay by Brittney Morris
A high school student develops a MMORPG as a safe space for Black gamers but soon finds her virtual world being plagued by the same types of prejudice the Black community faces IRL.
The Mortality Doctrine series by James Dashner
A teenage gamer is called upon to hunt down a cyber-terrorist. Brought to us by the author of The Maze Runner. Start with Book 1: The Eye of Minds.
Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi
A teenage coder wants to win a contest to meet the founder of a powerful VR company in the hopes that he may have clues to the whereabouts of her missing father.
Help! I'm Trapped in a Video Game & Other Books for Kids
One of the best ways to draw kids into reading is to hand them a book on a subject they enjoy. And we all know how kids feel about video games!
Press Start! series by Thomas Flintham
Super Rabbit Boy is a video game character with the power to save the world in this popular series for newly independent readers.
Minecraft Stonesword Saga series by Nick Eliopulos
This Early Reader series is one of several kids’ books based on the super-popular Minecraft video game. Keep your eye out for more books in this series soon!
Escape from a Video Game series by Dustin Brady
In these choose your own adventure-type stories, readers guide the characters out of video games. By the same author as the popular series Trapped in a Video Game.
PopularMMOs Presents series by Pat + Jen
If your kids are like mine and enjoy watching other people play video games on YouTube, this series based on Minecraft from the YouTube team, PopularMMOs, might be right for them.
My Video Game Ate My Homework by Dustin Hansen
It’s hard to finish your science project when you’re stuck inside a video game! A fun graphic novel with colourful artwork.
Glitch by Sarah Graley
A fun graphic novel with a female protagonist who gets sucked into a video game, where she must save a city from enemies. From the same illustrator as another Minecraft series.
There's something for everyone here on this list. That is if you can put your controllers down for long enough!