This Is Not a Game
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This Is Not a Game (Dagmar #1)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,490 ratings  ·  211 reviews


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Published March 24th 2009 by Orbit (first published March 2009)
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Mike (the Paladin)
By page 60 I knew that my interest, which had waned earlier, wasn't coming back. I don't know maybe I'm too old or the wrong generation for this book. Told from points of view varying from "Dagmar" (our game designer protagonist) to the people "back at the office" and of course, the people on the internet the story wanders along seemingly searching for a conspiracy to be part of. With the danger and threats of the real world closing in around her and her survival in question Dagnar has reached o...more
Alain Dewitt
This is the first Walter Jon Williams book I've read. I picked it up at a passenger terminal in Afghanistan somewhere because I had finished the book I was reading and didn't have anything to read and this looked interesting. Rest assured it won't be the last.

A complex tale involving a specific type of video game called an alternate reality game (ARG). An ARG is a game that blurs the line between a fictional reality and our own 'real' reality. In an ARG, characters from the game will contact pla...more
Set in a near future, this is basically the story of an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) that not only touches the fringe of reality but seeps into it, by design of the puppetmasters (game moderators). It didn't start out this way, but a collection of events and a couple of experiments push it over the edge until the game becomes literally an all out effort to save the world.

I loved reading this book. The writing was effortless and entertaining, as were the characters and the plots. I had so much fu...more
Aug 06, 2010 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gamers, gamines and anyone who's game for a fast-paced story
Recommended to Alan by: Charles Stross, inter alia
This Is Not An Average Novel

An intense near-future thriller that merges live-action role playing games with a realistic high-tech plot—this is one SF mystery that really works. Published almost simultaneously with Charles Stross' similar Halting State, it shares a number of general plot points—the intersection of online life, role-playing, with so-called "meatspace," in particular—but goes in a radically different direction.

This Is Not A One-Note Book

The novel is structured as a series of revela...more
‘This Is Not A Game’ explores the extent to which online gaming and, as a by-product, social networking can be exploited to serve an individuals interest. Collectively controlled by a puppet master, participants of games that routinely blur the line between fact and fiction are caught up in a complex web of mystery and intrigue as they seek the killer of Big Game Ideas founding member, Charlie. The protagonist, Dagmar, essentially a second-in-command figure at Big Game Ideas, went to college wit...more
Glenn Bertram
Walter Jon Williams weaves a world full of twists and turns in this book. The nature of this world is not surprising, as we mainly see it through the eyes of Dagmar Shaw, a masterful game designer. Dagmar is a rag-to-riches story in a sense. She grew up in a tough family setting, which she finally escaped upon entrance into Cal Tech. At college, she becomes part of a gaming group consisting of BJ, Austin, and Charlie. Eventually the four go their own separate ways. However, they are destined to...more
unfortunate cover images... and catchphrase... but hey, i'll give a shot at a book following the folly of rich white ARG (alternate reality game- for the un-initiated) producers as the real world goes to shit around them.

and frankly it was the closest book to my backpack this morning that i hadn't already read. seriously considering making a book cover for this though, the cover is honestly embarrassing.

thoughts after finishing this book:
the author has some decent ideas and has some insight into...more
When Dagmar lands in Jakarta, she finds her connecting flight has been canceled... along with every other flight out of the country. The currency is under attack and a revolution is underway. Luckily, Dagmar is the major producer/writer for Great Big Idea, a company that specialized in creating ARGs: alternate reality games. Her boss is a multimillionaire and he's determined to get Dagmar out of the country and back to safety, where she can start writing the next big game. When some of the more...more
This Is Not A Game by Walter Jon Williams was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and one which I will continue to explore, as there are more books in the series. Exploring the experiences of Dagmar, a young woman employed by a video game company, it is more than a good read, but really encourages us to explore the role that social media plays in our lives, and how we are affected by it.

The first story in the book, as there are several, takes place at the very beginning, as Dagmar is trapped in Ind...more
I flew through this book. It had me hooked on page one and, thanks to a four hour flight, kept me engrossed to the end. I thought the plot was deftly woven, the use of an on-line role playing game in real-time/real-world was fascinating. I liked the murder-mystery elements of betrayal, revenge and double revenge. I liked the way world wide financial elements were manipulated on a more intimate level, shall we say. I can totally see the self replicating software happening at some point in the fut...more
This was a fast, engaging read that, I thought, got internet culture mostly right (although I haven't played any Alternate Reality games, so I can't speak to that aspect). I had trouble putting it down. There was insufficient denouement, but on the other hand, it had more of a wrap-up than most Neal Stephenson books have. Unfortunately, a major plot point hinged on a completely ridiculous premise - that when you have a list of many thousands of items, and you have a program that acts on one of t...more
Great new story from Walter Jon Williams involving four role-playing game players who meet in college. One goes on to be a successful entrepreneur, one becomes a venture capitalist, one a game designer, and one a bitter burnout. The story revolves around the games they create for a living and what happens when one of them is unexpectedly murdered.

The thing I liked about this story most is that it blurred the lines between fantasy and reality. The games produced in this book involve real-world ac...more
I was involved in the XBOX 360 ARG the year before the release. I know some what of this gaming style. I find it fascinating and highly marketable.

Walter Jon Williams is know for his high-tech "cyberpunk" novels. This is not one of those novels. Which I found very nice. Call it a techno-thriller or whatever, but it was a good read.

The only complaint was the plot became a little transparent by the end of the story. Though it didn't detract from the read. I found I empathized with the characters...more
...If you enjoy a good (techno) thriller this book is as good as it gets. Events frequently outpace the main character keep her, and to an extend the reader, off balance. Williams captures the paranoia, desperations and frustration of the main character very well, without making her completely helpless. Dagmar is used to being in control of the game, when she eventually cuts the strings that move her the result in interesting, unexpected even. In short, I thought This Is Not a Game was a very en...more
I love most of WJW novels and some like Aristoi, Metropolitan, City on Fire are among my top sff books, with Dread Empire and Implied Spaces close also, but sadly this one should be entitled "Not a Novel"

I fast plowed through it to see if it has anything of interest to me; it was just unreadable and boring - artificial, could not connect with the characters or the setting, seemed just a "game" so to speak, not "real"

A while ago I would have shrugged and said, well, near-future thrillers are not...more
Wesley Edmunds
This is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams, is a social media-hip noir which makes for an easy read -- if you are of the social media generation. Dagmar is a puppet master. She runs alternate reality games that allow people to escape their regular lives and participate in a world which lies just under the surface of the one we all live in. Carefully connected physical and electronic clues lead players through alien invasions and international spy stories. But when one of Dagmar’s closest friends...more

In the first week of March 2014, I attempted to read this book. I got a page 115 and just didn't care. I didn't care about the plot, the uninspired, flat dialogue, and I really didn't understand why this book is called science fiction and is shelved as such.

beware: genre classification rant ----

Nothing about this book is particularly bad, it's just not what I wanted when I picked it up. I was looking for some deeper science fiction elements and just did not get it. Maybe it is just me. This b...more
CV Rick
It's an adventure story. Just what I needed.

After a long Spring season of work and a horrible run of books, shows, news, and whatnot, I was ready for some good escapism. Walter Jon Williams delivered that.

I used to make games. My friend, Alan, and I would concoct elaborate table top and D&D style games and scenarios and then work through them. It was a lot of fun and this book brought that back. Dagmar took it to a level we'd imagined - to where the games were worldwide and adventurous and...more
Clever idea of takng RPG to the next step of Actual RPG i.e. real time game played via the internet and in real life with players doing tasks and solving puzzles in the real world. A sympathetic female lead character and a cast of techies to help her come to terms with what her boss has done and what her old friend has become. Very enjoyable fast read. I'll look the author up for more of his works.
Tim Street
If you are into ARGs this is a Must Read. I really enjoyed the book and would love to make it into a web series.
Great book, original and fun to read.
TINAG (This is not a Game) takes you through 2 and a half story lines. The first Act could be read alone and provide a mildly entertaining short story. The second and third act use glimpses from the first act to set you up for the main story line. Williams uses social media and e-mail intros to keep reminding you of important parts of the story, and even though you know how the book is going to end you are set to wonder which direction Williams will take you.

Final Thought: Joe Clever is my favo...more
Stuart Reid
Very interesting, and although I came to this from the Dread Empires Fall series by Walter Jon Williams I wasn't disappointed in the least that it's a totally different beast!

Dagmar Shaw runs ARGs - Actual Reality Games - but after being caught up in a revolution in the Philippines she returns home to find some fishy goings on behind the scenes in her latest game. She finds herself caught up mysteries close to home and uses the power of her followers - her Group Mind - to achieve the impossible....more
This was a fun read. The book is divided into three acts. The first act was really interesting and told a compelling story all in itself. The rest of the book was okay too. Although, I found the characterization to be somewhat lacking. They were a little flat with a noticeable dearth of motivation for their actions. The author hinted at some things, but I did not find it entirely convincing.

The back of the book does not really explain much of what the story is about, so here's a little informati...more
Dec 01, 2009 Aaron rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like sci-fi novels
Shelves: english-5
This Is Not A Game by Walter Jon Williams, is a novel of greed, betrayal, and social networking, as clearly seen on the cover of the book. It's not just that though, its a mystery of who killed who. We start of our book with Dagmar, our main protagonist, who is a game designer trapped in Jakarta, Indonesia in a government and economic crash. Her boss Charlie, is having some problems with money, in fact she has 4.3 billion in an account. The vice president of the company, Austin is trying to keep...more
Joseph Teller
Although a good story about computers and gamers, written evidently by someone who either did their research in a very in-depth manner or who themselves would have to be a deep computer user and gamer its a good book.

The action, suspense and plot twists work well, the tech side comes across as believable and the characters are believable and not stereotypes.

That said, the story is just barely science fiction. It has exactly two minor concepts that you need to accept in regards to technology.

This is not science fiction.

Well, it might have been when it was published - in 2008 - but I'm fairly sure that the requisite technology actually exists in the real world, now, to make everything (except maybe for the twist, but I'm not sure) actually work.

Dagmar Shaw's job is writing ARGs - massively multi-player games where players access information etc on the web, but sometimes partake in real-world and real-time events, too. It's all about puzzle-solving and cross-referencing with other pla...more
Margaret Fisk

My husband recommended this novel for me, and it meets a lot of my interest areas. This Is Not a Game talks about the gaming world gone one step further into the real one, and then explores the social and economic consequences of same. The novel has a very cyberpunk feel to it while at the same time showing none of the traditional modifications. It reminds me a lot of The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, with modern-based tech as opposed to steampunk.

One of the reasons I enjoyed the book is its...more
It's pretty wonderful to read a book that's set in MY world. The center of the story is an Alternate Reality Game, or ARG, and many of the characters are gamers. Some of the story takes place in forum posts from the internet, and the general milieu is one of very smart, tech-savvy gamers. While I'm not JUST a gamer, it's really cool to read a major novel that's very familiar with things I like; D&D, online gaming, and internet culture. It feels like the author gets the milieu, too, so it's f...more
Bryan Boulette
Near future is always an interesting setting because it allows an author to strip away metaphor and analogy and play around much more directly with what our existing society and technology is like, and might be like. In This is Not a Game, we get a story that presupposes a world where video games, while still extant, have been largely supplanted as the major form of electronic entertainment (enjoyed by tens of millions the world over) by large scale, elaborate, convoluted, and highly evolved ARG...more
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Walter Jon Williams has published twenty novels and short fiction collections. Most are science fiction or fantasy -Hardwired, Voice of the Whirlwind, Aristoi, Metropolitan, City on Fire to name just a few - a few are historical adventures, and the most recent, The Rift, is a disaster novel in which "I just basically pound a part of the planet down to bedrock." And that's just the opening chapters...more
More about Walter Jon Williams...
Destiny's Way (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, #14) Hardwired (Hardwired, #1) Ylesia (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, #14.5) The Praxis (Dread Empire's Fall, #1) The Rift

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“When you revealed that the Rani was in fact the Nagi," Charlie said, "the players collectively pissed their pants."
"I'd rather they creamed their jeans.”
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