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Holiday Gift Guide: Yahtzee Croshaw’s 4th Wall-Breaking Gaming Novel ‘Mogworld’

Available From: Your local bookstore or
Price: $7.99

As someone who really likes video games, hilarious reviews, and watching videos online when I should be working, I’ve been a fan of Yahtzee Croshaw and his Zero Punctuation series for a while now. Lately, however, I’ve been reading through Mogworld, the novel he wrote that was released by Dark Horse, and as cliche as it is to say it, it’s true: If you like what he does in his reviews, you’ll love the book. In a nutshell, the book focuses on Jim, a low-level character in an MMORPG who slowly realizes that he’s living in a video game.When I interviewed him about the book way back in January of 2010, Croshaw had this to say about his inspiration on that front:

I played “World of Warcraft” for a few months a couple of years back, and I remember being quite intrigued by the way the world was absolutely full of backstory — it having followed on from all the “Warcraft” strategy games, after all — but no more story could be created because of the MMO format. You kill a monster, complete a quest, pick a herb, and it all comes right back for the next guy. On top of that, time is frozen; no one ages or gets born, and nothing ever really changes. So I got to thinking: What would it be like to live in a place like that? Would a “Warcraft” character remember a time back in the RTS [real-time strategy] days when things weren’t like this? Would they suspect a conspiracy? And when they die, and they saw those weird angel things that bring you back to life, would they think they were in on it?

It’s a pretty interesting hook, but what’s great about this hook is that that’s only part of what he’s using to build his story. Also, it doesn’t just hold appeal for fans of World of Warcraft; I’ve never touched the stuff, and I think the book is a hoot. Croshaw tells a story of fantasy cliches taken to their absurd extremes, spending plenty of time with Jim during the time when he’s a member of a unionized undead workforce before the fourth-wall breaking MMORPG elements even show up. I don’t want to spoil it, but when those elements do show up, they’re actually played out in the style of an epic fantasy adventure, albeit one with absolutely ludicrous trappings.

As a character, Jim displays the same acerbic wit that Croshaw employs the Zero Punctuation videos, and as the narrator, he’s got the same knack for wordplay and phrasing that makes him so enjoyable to listen to. He’s even able to pull off slapstick comedy in print, and that’s no easy feat.

It’s the perfect gift not just for fans of online games — which is a good thing since they probably wouldn’t read it unless you offered 100XP and an armor upgrade upon completion — but for anyone who enjoys fantasy stories, sharp-witted genre parodies, or even well-written comedy in general.

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