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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Just Finished Reading…Two Can Play That Game by Leanne Yong. Melbourne: Allen And Unwin, 2023


Teenager Sam Khoo has always dreamed of becoming a games designer. Her passion has kept her working in her room every spare moment, along with her best friend Aneeshka, also a games designer. One day, the two of them will move from Brisbane to start a studio together in Sydney. And she has a wonderful game, Vinculum, which she wants to show at a workshop with her favourite publishers. The only way she can get there is via a ticket in a limited edition game - and the last copy is snatched first by that dreadful boy, Jay Khua! But Jay is fair; he agrees to play a series of games with her. The winner will get the ticket.

The novel proceeds with the two of them playing those games and, along the way, getting to know each other and their delightful Malaysian families. The Malaysian community is pretty much like other ethnic communities - everyone knows everyone else, gossips and, in this case, decides Sam and Jay are dating, and plans out their future wedding…

Sam has a university scholarship which she wants to ditch in favour of spending a year working with a publisher on her games. Her parents want to see her with a backup that will let her get a steady job, marry Jay and maybe do games then if she wants. How does she tell them?

The characters are all likeable, no baddies in this book. Jay has a very good, unselfish reason for wanting that ticket. Because this is a YA novel, of course, it’s enemies to lovers. And Jay is worth having, as Sam discovers in the course of the story.

At the same time, she is justified in feeling that female game designers have a right to do what they’re good at. In the real world, female game designers do suffer from male harassment, such as the misogynistic Gamergate harassment campaign. However, that isn’t really Sam’s issue, though she and Aneeshka have been sneered at by male gamers in the past.

I enjoyed very much the introduction to gaming. The author knows her gaming and even shows the names of real life counterparts of the games in the book. Leanne Yong, an Australian of Singaporean and Malaysian background, works on escape room games as her day job and has done very well internationally. This is her first novel. It’s to be hoped there will be more. 

I bought this as a print book, but you can buy it in ebook or in your local good bookshop.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I'm such a geezer that I've never played a video game.

A latte beckons said...

Have you read Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow? Also set in the world of gaming and it opened my eyes to that whole world. It might be a good companion to this book.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Debra! Neither have I, nothing that complicated, anyway. The games I play are very basic, with no actual story. N9 reason I won’t try - and this one has made me interested!

Hi Kate! No, I haven’t read that book. Who is the author?