As Summer draws ever closer, you really can’t help but start to dream of those long, lazy summer days. On particularly blistering days, one of my favorite ways to beat the heat is settling down at my desk for a good long gaming session. Whether that’s putting an embarrassing number of hours into Stardew Valley, battling zombies in the Resident Evil 4 Remake, or starting yet another playthrough of Hollow Knight, gaming is such an awesome way to experience stories and explore new worlds. Plus, lots of video games are heavily inspired by or often direct adaptations of various novels, but what about the books that are about games, and the people who play them? 

So when you put down the controller for the night, here’s a list of five video game-inspired novels to keep you inspired until your next gaming session!   

First up is Slay by Brittney Morris

As well as her other published works, she’s also written for Spiderman 2 by Insomniac Games, and Unknown Worlds’s Subnautica: Below Zero. Slay stars 17-year-old Kiera Johnson, who is secretly the developer of an online multiplayer role playing card game, SLAY. The game celebrates black culture, but when someone is murdered over an in-game dispute, the media begins to label her game an racist, exclusionist hub for thugs. As threats begin to pour in from all sides, can Kiera save the safe space she’s created, as well as herself? 

Insignia is the first book in the Si-Fi series by S.J. Kincaid

It’s World War III, and Tom Raines is a 14-year-old with a love of VR games. As the planet’s resources dwindle, Tom is inducted as the newest member of the Intrasolar Forces, thanks to his miraculous skill and dexterity at the helm of the Battle Drones. Training at the spire, his new life holds everything that Tom’s always wanted and never had—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?    

Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd

This is the next book on our list, for those of you who like a little more romance in your life. Emilia Romero is the only female player on her eSports team, and likes to keep her life as “Fury” and her life as Emilia very much apart. But when a tournament comes to town, her double life is put in jeopardy, at the hands of one Jake Hooper. The fates bring Jake and Emilia together as they work to keep her secret, even as the pressures of the tournament and their non-gaming world threaten to pull everything apart.

Next up is Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

This is the first in the Last Reality trilogy. Otherworld is a fully immersive VR game, where the players leave their physical bodies behind to fully enter the world of virtual reality. It is almost addictive, especially for someone like Simon. After stealing from his parents to get the latest Otherworld tech, Simon hopes to link up with his real-world crush, Kat. But after an accident kills several people and severely injures Kat, she becomes trapped in the Otherworld and Simon must do all he can to try and save her, before it’s too late.

This last one’s a bit older than the rest, but Epic by Conor Kostick

This is the first book in the Avatar Chronicles trilogy. On the planet New Earth, everyone must play the Fantasy MMORPG, Epic. If you win battles in the game, you are awarded privileges of better jobs, supplies for your community, access to college, and much more. But if you lose? Well. You won’t want to lose. Erik, born into the world ruled by “the Committee”, chooses to fight back against the authorities in what might be his only chance for a fair shot at a better life for himself, his friends, and maybe all of New Earth.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy some of these books, and as always, happy reading!