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HipBone 01: Games in Fiction

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[ by Charles Cameron / the HipBone Games ]
I am honored and delighted that Bryan has invited me to guest-post here, and to introduce my HipBone Games, which he kindly mentions in his book (p. 204 for the curious). But first, some background…


It concerns me a little, and interests me a lot, that the games I most want to play are found in books…

The “Glass Bead Game” in Hermann Hesse‘s Magister Ludi, is my prime example. But Hesse’s game is not the only one that intrigues me. It’s ironic – but I’d say the freest imaginations now discussing games are those within the science fiction community. Consider Iain Banks, and his remarkable SF book, The Player of Games.

cover of Banks' book

is the first of the games we hear about in any detail in the book — played at a game-table on a board, by two people taking turns. As Banks’ readers, we hear the “snicking sound the point-hinged pyramids made as they were clicked over” — what a brilliantly evocative phrase that is! — and learn that one player:

finessed the finish a little, taking advantage of Fors’s confusion to produce a pretty pattern at the end, sweeping one piece round four diagonals in a machine-gun clatter of rotating pyramids, drawing the outline of a square across the board, in red, like a wound.

The scene is exceptionally vivid, the exact nature of the gameplay difficult to determine. But how I long to play it! Read Banks, and you can play it in your mind!

In 2009, the average computer game production price was well over twenty million dollars – and the price is rising. The fiction writer’s imagination, unlike the game designer’s, doesn’t have to clear a multi-million dollar hurdle to see his game idea in circulation.

Think about it!


More on the Glass Bead Game in my next…

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