What if your whole life depended on how well you performed in a video game? Imagine that your parents' jobs, your house, the money you make, and your ability to go to college all centered around your score in an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). Well, this is the life that Erik and his friends face on New Earth, the planet that humans now occupy after violence destroyed the Earth we currently inhabit.

The one golden rule on New Earth is that violence is not tolerated in any form. In order to keep this peaceable system, Epic was therefore made as an outlet for aggressive behavior. When the characters "clip in" to Epic, they are able to create an alter ego, hunt monsters, go on quests, and accrue money by defeating various creatures. The game is incredibly advanced, allowing players to feel as if they are actually living and moving in the world of the game.

Sounds great, right? Who wouldn't want to play Epic? The only problem with the role-playing game is that it has become the entire basis of New Earth's society. Political debates are solved through online battles, money earned in the game dictates a character's wealth in the real world, and benefits such as decent jobs and a college education are only earned by the highest-scoring players. What's more, only players with enough money can buy essential articles such as weapons, armor, and magical items to advance further in society.

For this reason, most of the population plods along in Epic for their entire lives, killing minor monsters and collecting a living coin by coin. However, Erik does not find this lifestyle appealing. Rather than playing it safe, Erik begins taking chances in the game, talking to computer-generated characters, going after dragons, and testing the rules. He soon learns that Epic has much more to offer than meets the eye. Erik and his group of friends work together to slay a dragon, accrue enormous amounts of wealth, and change the game, and thus society, forever.

If you like video games, and especially online role-playing games, you will love Epic. The author, Conor Kostick, is a former video game designer and one of the creators of the first LARP (Live Action Role-Playing) game. His descriptions of Epic will make any reader feel as though they are playing the game themselves, and the societal structure of the novel is perfect for sci-fi and fantasy readers.

 

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