Andrew is a college student on summer break without motivation to do much of anything, except playing the online virtual reality game Crucible. It's an MMORPG* that utilizes the best physics probability generator, which has made it one of the top online community games. As Druin, a mid-level thief, Andrew is able to escape his parents' nagging him to get a job, pick a major, or help his sister with homework. But his alter-ego's life is about to get more complicated when an upper-level rival forces him into a quest. And that is just what Andrew needs. . . more worries.
Wolfgang Wallace was a child prodigy in computer programming that grew up to be in charge of Crucible's design at Archimago, its parent company. As he and the rest of the staff prepare for a major update, Archimago gets new management. Dealing with shifting politics is one thing, but after the update rolls out Crucible is hacked. Wallace has to end it before if negatively affects the players or gets the company in trouble with the FCC, FBI, or the Better Business Bureau and shuts them down.
Potter deftly weaves together the three plot lines that consider the creator, the player, and the business owner. And with it, we see a myriad of issues played out. The obvious sci-fi themes of technological advancement, psychology, and morality are explored, and while there is nothing groundbreaking here, it is very interesting to see them played out and compared between the characters and applied to the gaming industry. Also, how their actions in the real world affect them in the game, resulting in another affect in the real world at the opposite end. Other themes include law, ethical business practices, and family. One of my favorite parts ties in with the ethics bit, but I don't want to give that away ;)
The characters are well developed and feel real. Potter perfectly hits many varying reasons why people game through the main AND the minor characters. It's wonderful to see a bit of background on side characters in Crucible. You see the way they act and he gives the real world reason why they're that way in the game.
Currently, this book is only available in digital. It's not my favorite way of reading, but I felt it enhanced this one a bit with much of the story being held in the digital world.
Overall, Massively Multiplayer is an enjoyable and captivating look at the gaming industry. I would definitely recommend this to anyone that enjoys gaming. But don't worry if you're not a gamer, it's got a much wider appeal. The techno-babble is kept pretty basic, as are acronyms. My recommendation extends to those who like science fiction, action/adventure, fantasy, and/or anyone that likes reading about the effects of business acquisitions.