Matt's Reviews > The Player of Games

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
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's review
Apr 03, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: favorites, sf

The second major Culture novel, Player of Games turned out to be a bit more of what I was expecting from all the hype around the series in general. The story was much more cohesive and layered than Consider Phlebas, which seems cartoonish in comparison. I loved both the concept of a person whose primary value within the Culture is that he is an expert at all games (think anything from tic-tac-toe to highly complex RPGs) and the idea of an alien culture that uses an insanely complex, many-layered strategy game (involving everything from rounds of cards to game boards the size of high-school gymnasiums) to pick its leader. Of course the Culture sends their champion to this alien society to try his hand at their game, and of course things eventually get, well, out-of-hand. Fun stuff, and even moreso if you enjoy playing games (board, card, strategy, rpg, video) yourself.

For a good general overview of Banks' Culture novels see:

* The Wikipedia entry on the subject
* Banks' own essay: "A Few Notes On The Culture"

Personally I think this Culture stuff kicks the ass of a lot of other similar epic widescale space opera (such as Star Trek, for example) but results may differ.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Matt, in your review you referenced RPGs and it got me wondering if you are a gamer. On Xbox 360 I've enjoyed playing the Dragon Age, Fallout, and Fable series. I also started playing Dungeons and Dragons with a local group of guys this year. We get together every other Saturday. It's lots of fun! I'm intrigued by this book from the gaming standpoint and comparison of cultures.

Matt Jason wrote: "Matt, in your review you referenced RPGs and it got me wondering if you are a gamer.

Sure, I own a 360, and tend to be fairly current with the new games out there for that platform. However I'm not as dedicated to it as some of my friends are; I tend to go through spurts where I'm playing all the time, and then the Xbox just sits there for months wondering what became of me.

As for D&D, yeah, I actually play with a bunch of people from work--we started up last Fall and it was the first time I'd played since I was in my 20s. If you check my FB you'll see I've posted a bunch of pics of our gaming sessions. My boss Rachel is also our DM for the current campaign. (Rachel thought this was the best of the various Culture novels btw, but she's a HUGE gamer, so there could be a bit of bias. ;) )

message 3: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason That's really cool. As for 360 I probably play an average of 1 day per week, but I get in to it when I play. It's a great way to blow off steam from the work day. I've been playing Borderlands lately.

Our D&D group just got together this past Saturday after we'd each leveled up to 11. I play as a human sorcerer with dragon magic. It's been a good character to get my feet wet. We have 2-3 guys that take turns DM'ing every few months.

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