By Jorge Figueiredo - September 30th, 2013


Vaporware is a story by Richard Dansky, a videogame industry vet who draws upon his wealth of insider knowledge to weave a somewhat realistic tapestry around a highly improbable occurrence. The story is pretty good; but the subject matter is what limits who might want to read it.

The story centers around Ryan Colter, the Creative Director at a small, independent game studio that’s working on a ground-breaking game called Blue Lightning. Ryan is quite happy about this product, as it is based on his own ideas. The team has poured blood, sweat and tears into the game, and things are looking good – until their parent company pulls the plug on it. The team is forced to change gears and work on something new. Unfortunately, the game seems to have ideas of its own, and it begins to haunt Ryan and his coworkers, looking for something that only Ryan can provide. Can Ryan separate the real from the surreal?

Aside from a few small inconsistencies in the writing, the book is well-written. Characters and setting are established well – almost too well. Dansky did his fair share of time in the trenches of videogame development, and it is very apparent in his writing. At times, the book almost reads like an entertaining history book, or documentary script. I found it quite fascinating, and it fed the fires of my respect for those who fight the good fight in the industry.

This is what happens when I can’t find any pictures. Richard Dansky, feeding a dinosaur.

However, when the story hopped onto the streetcar to Horror-town, I kept checking the page count to see how many more pages I had to read before the end. In many ways, Richard’s fantastic job of establishing the backdrop takes away from the supernatural elements that eventually emerge. To be clear, I didn’t hate the story; for the most part, Dansky is quite skilled at creating and maintaining realistic human characters; they are flawed and some of them even reminded me of people that I knew. My issue with the story was partially the pacing, partially the characterization of the “horror” character, but mostly the strangeness of the reactions of those around it. People do strange things when they are scared; but the characters in the book seemed to all have a severe vitamin C deficiency (where C stands for “common sense”). It’s a shame, because the way that the story was unfolding would have made a really great dramatic piece.

In terms of the intended audience, it’s hard for me to picture someone with absolutely no interest in gaming really enjoying this. I figure that someone who would really enjoy this book would be a person who knows something about the gaming industry, but is anxious to learn more; or, perhaps someone who is in the trenches that would want to read about another point of view. In either case, whoever reads Vaporware is going to have to have to be able to suspend their disbelief for the reasons that I indicated above in terms of the character reaction. Again, it’s a good story, and it is a decent length (making it a fairly quick read); but the twist is a little bit out of place for me.

You can check out the Goodreads page for Vaporware here.

Comment away!

Please keep it clean. Unnecessary cursing will be removed.

Article comments by non-staff members do not necessarily reflect the views of Toronto Thumbs.

× two = 10