When you read One, you will find scattered references to “The Game”. It seemed a good topic to discuss briefly what the Game actually was meant to represent. There are some brief explanations inside the story, and more will be developed on the Game in later volumes. But as kind of an advance sneak-peak into the mind of the author, I thought I would take a moment to provide some additional background on what the Game actually is.
The Game is a tribute to my own personal experience in the real world of customizable (sometimes called collectible or trading) card games (CCGs or TCGs). In fact, the nonprofit I run (http://GameHearts.org) promotes these kinds of tabletop games as safe and sober recreations for adults. But as I write One, I realized I wanted to convey what a game like this might look like in a real fantasy world. With this in mind, I adapted a CCG that I had personally developed (called Quest) into the format of the story (And who knows, if the story takes off, maybe I will someday release the real Game into the market, too).
Basically, in a fantasy world, there would not be printing presses producing cards en masse that would be needed to support a worldwide adoption of a card game. Some card games certainly must exist, but it is pretty standard that a deck of cards might be bought once, and then played to the point of completely wearing the print off the cards (years of play) before a normal person in such a world would replace their deck. But a CCG requires constant adaptation to remain vital, and people in a midevil world would not be going to local trader to constantly buy new booster packs. So there were the first hurdles that I had to overcome to introduce the game: production, distribution and cost.
I overcame all of this, and ended up creating the unique components of the Game, in the same stroke: the cards of the Game are clearly not being produced by a mortal – some higher power is involved. This higher power has remained nameless, of course, which only adds to the mystery of why he or she is doing it. This higher power is also responsible for distributing the game cards, and presumably for overseeing the rules of the game, as well. In spite of its broad reach, for instance, there are no known aceptable house rule systems for the Game – everyone who plays the Game plays, it seems, by the same rules. So some kind of authority must exist to keep the Game within the confines of the same rules…
But since the New Order denounces the Game, it seems obvious that they are not responsible. And one of the Gods in the first book, Aerik, seems to reference knowing that a female is responsible, which seems to rule out the Pantheon’s involvement (since the Old Gods are of both their genders, and an Old God generally only reference a fellow in a single sex if in the presence of one at the time). And so the question is still out there: who is producing the Game, and why?
One thing that is not discussed in One though (and consider this a spoiler alert – so don’t read further if you don’t want the spoiler), there is a mystic component to the Game beyond just its creation and distribution. For true players of the Game, the cards are actually part of a sophisticated magical system. The individual cards act as material components in summoning creatures and people from across the world to be compelled to participate in a duel between players. Bracken has been shown that a card exists of himself – will there be cards of others in the story, and what impact will this have on future books? For that part, you will all just have to stay tuned… 🙂