The Transformative Power of Gaming: Exploring ‘Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow’

Welcome to the Lit Lounge! I’m super excited to have you here as I dive into the fantastic world of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by the uber-talented Gabrielle Zevin. I appreciate you all stopping by. Today, we’ll explore this mind-blowing novel, all without spoilers. But first, let’s meet the genius behind this literary gem, Gabrielle Zevin, and take a sneak peek into the captivating story that awaits us in these pages.

Meet the Author

Gabrielle Zevin is a popular American author known for her captivating novels, stories, and essays. One of her most famous books is The Storied Life of J. Fikry, which readers worldwide love. Her works have been translated into over 20 languages, reaching a diverse audience. 

Author, Gabrielle Zevin

In July 2022, Zevin released Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. This captivating novel quickly gained immense popularity, topping the charts of the New York Times, Sunday Times, and USA Today bestseller lists. It even attracted the attention of Hollywood, with Temple Hill and Paramount Studios securing the film rights in a highly competitive bidding war involving twenty-five potential buyers. Zevin is working on adapting her novel into a screenplay, showcasing her exceptional storytelling skills in yet another medium. I’m excited to see the film adaptation. 

The Bottom Line – no spoilers

Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a novel about two friends, Sam Masur and Sadie Green, who meet in a children’s hospital and bond over their shared love of video games. They later found their own game development studio, where they create games that explore the power of imagination and storytelling.

In the world of the story, video games hold a prominent and multifaceted role in the characters’ lives. We’ll dive deep into the novel’s exploration of video games’ power and how they serve as a means of escape, a source of nostalgia, and a backdrop for exploring profound themes.

Gaming Knowledge Not Required 

You don’t have to be a game designer or ‘gamer’ or have ever played a video game to enjoy this story. The novel is ultimately about friendship, love, loss, and the power of video games. No gaming experience is required to enjoy a story like that. My gaming experience is limited. I have fond memories of the early days of video games. Video games were just being created when I was a kid. Many times in the story, Zevin references some of the old classic video games – the nostalgia of those youthful days when I played classics like Pong, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man as a teenager – all of which were played in a local pizza shop with my friends while we waited for our pizza. Much the same way customers would play Donkey King at Sam’s grandfather’s pizza shop.

As home video games became popular, my Dad bought the family Intellivision, the rival to Atari. It was superior in graphics to the Atari, but Atari came out with popular games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Mattel made Intellivision and marketed it more as a home computer, but I remember playing hours of Intellivision Football, our favorite game, with my boyfriend while babysitting my little sister.

On the other hand, my dad was more into computer games of strategy, basically military World War II games. When Prince of Persia came out, he was excited for me to have it since he knew the graphics were supposed to be amazing for the time. I loved playing that game.

When I became a parent, I enjoyed spending a wonderful Christmas Day playing Rockband with my two children. My voice was completely gone after five hours of non-stop singing as the lead singer. My all-time favorite video game to unwind to after really skiing on the slopes of Okemo was to kick back and play SSX Tricky – I spent hours living my dream as a cool-ass snowboarder – on the screen. But I am not a gamer.

Intellivision, despite its superior graphics, lost the console wars

Reading Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow brought back all those cherished video game memories and reignited my love for computer gaming. I like playing Adventure: Hidden Object, Puzzle, Story-Rich, Visual Novel Games. Since finishing the book, I’ve signed up on Steam, a gaming site, and started playing The Eyes of Ara, an exciting adventure game. So, while I may not consider myself a hardcore “gamer,” my history and video game experiences indicate some gaming level. No, I am not a gamer. But this is what this story stirred up in me, my old love of video games.

The Role of Video Games in ‘Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow’ 

In the story, video games serve as a lifeline for the characters, offering them solace and refuge from the harsh realities of their world. These immersive virtual realities provide an escape from the mundane and ordinary, transporting players to fantastical worlds filled with adventure, mystery, and magic.

For Sadie and Sam, gaming becomes more than just a form of entertainment. It becomes a coping mechanism, a way to navigate through personal tragedies and overwhelming emotions. They could lose themselves. When life becomes too unbearable, they retreat into the realms of pixels and polygons, finding solace in the virtual landscapes they explore.

Many times throughout the narrative, Zevin gives examples of Sam or Sadie turning to video games to lose themselves for a while.

“He lost himself in the minor stakes of the Old West world. How many wagon parts? How many sets of clothing? Do you raft across the river, or do you wait for the river conditions to improve? Do you shoot the bison for food, knowing that most of the meat will rot? How long does it take to recover from a rattlesnake bite? What happens when you get to Oregon?
It was easy to remember why this simple game had absorbed them so much when they were young. Many afternoons, they had lain side by side on his hospital bed, sharing one identity, making decisions together, passing a fifteen-pound laptop back and forth.”

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

“Sadie took the Dead Sea disk from the shelf. Dead Sea was her comfort game. She decided she’d go back to her apartment and kill zombies for a while.”

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

What makes video games so captivating is their ability to create immersive experiences and their power to evoke a sense of nostalgia. Longing for a simpler time, players are drawn to games that remind them of their childhood or significant moments in their lives. Whether the familiar sound of a classic game console booting up or the iconic theme music that instantly transports them back in time, nostalgia adds an extra layer of depth and emotion to the gaming experience.

“You’re fantastically good,” she said. “Do you have a Nintendo at home?
No, Sam said, but my grandfather has a Donkey Kong machine in his restaurant. He lets me play as much as I want for free. And the thing about games, is , if you get good at one game, you can be good at any game. That’s what I think. They’re all hand-eye coordination and observing patterns.
I agree. And what? Your grandfather owns a Donkey Kong machine? That is so cool! I love those old machines.”

Video Games Today

The video game market is booming, with staggering growth expected in the coming years. In 2022, it was valued at USD 217.06 billion, and this figure is projected to rise to USD 242.39 billion in 2023. The market is set to expand even further, reaching an estimated USD 583.69 billion by 2030 [source: Grandview Research]. This rapid growth is fueled by a diverse range of game genres, including Action, Adventure, Role-Playing, Simulation, Strategy, and Sports/Racing. Each genre offers a unique gaming experience, such as Arcade, Martial Arts, First-Person Shooter, Building, Dating, Farming, Life & Immersive, Hidden Object, Puzzle, Card & Board, Military, and Real-Time Strategy. With so many options available, there’s a game to suit every taste and preference. These games have evolved to become intricate storytelling platforms, offering immersive narratives that rival those found in books or movies. From expansive open-world adventures where players shape their destinies to gripping narrative-driven experiences, developers are constantly pushing the boundaries of creativity and technology to captivate players in the digital realm.

It is worth mentioning that while video games offer an avenue for escapism, it is important to approach them with moderation. Although they can transport us to mesmerizing virtual worlds and ignite our imagination, excessive gaming can potentially pose risks. It is crucial to strike a balance between the digital and physical realms, as spending too much time on gaming may impede personal growth and hinder social connections. This caution becomes especially relevant with the advent of virtual reality. Ever read the book Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One? That’s a good cautionary tale to read and, to some extent Ready Player Two, but I liked the first one better.

By embracing a mindful approach to gaming, individuals can fully enjoy the benefits and entertainment that video games provide while ensuring that it does not overshadow real-life experiences. It is vital to recognize that the power of video games lies in their ability to offer a temporary escape or source of solace but should not serve as a complete substitute for the richness of the tangible world.

Exploring the Impact of Gaming on the Characters’ Lives 

The Power Of Video Games As A Tool For Self-Expression

Throughout the novel, video games are a powerful tool for self-expression, enabling the characters to convey their inner thoughts and desires. In a society where individuals struggle to find their voice, these virtual experiences become an outlet for personal expression. Through video games, characters can create unique avatars, customize their appearance and abilities, and embark on daring quests that reflect their aspirations and values.

“Sam’s avatar…was styled like a grunge-era rock star – ripped blue jeans, a red plaid shirt, Doc Martens — and meant to evoke plainspoken, folksy icons like Jiminy Cricket, Andy Griffith, Woody Guthrie.”

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrrow – Gabrielle Zevin

I love picking out and outfitting my avatar for any game I play. For me, it’s like playing with a virtual doll- that I can dress up and change on any given day, I may play a game. Avatars allow gamers to explore facets of their identity that may be suppressed or overlooked in the real world. Also, video games offer a safe space for experimentation and self-discovery. Characters can adopt different personas and roles within the game’s narrative, enabling them to explore various aspects of themselves without fear of judgment or consequence. By expressing themselves through gameplay choices and interactions with other players online, they gain a newfound sense of agency and confidence in defining who they are.

Video Games As A Pathway To Connection In An Isolated Society

In an isolated society, video games serve as a pathway to connection, offering a lifeline for characters yearning for human interaction. Throughout the novel, these virtual experiences become more than just escapism; they become a means for self-expression, role-playing, and finding purpose. The characters find solace in the digital realm, where they can freely express themselves without fear of judgment or rejection.

“Sadie went to the hospital the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and then whatever days Sam was well enough to play but sick enough to be in the hospital. They would become great playmates. They competed sometimes, but they took their greatest pleasure from copiloting a single player character, passing the keyboard or a controller back and forth between them while discussing the ways they could ease this virtual person’s journey through an inevitably perilous game world. While they gamed, they told each other the stories of their relatively short lives. Eventually, Sadie knew everything about Sam, and Sam, about Sadie. They thought they did, at least.”

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

Video games provide them with a platform to connect with others who share similar interests and experiences. These virtual connections become vital for the characters’ emotional well-being in a world of desolation and loneliness. They offer a brief respite from the bleak reality they face daily. Through multiplayer modes or online communities, video games create opportunities for friendships and alliances to form.

I remember walking by my son’s room and hearing him talk to his friends while playing COD – Call of Duty for years. He and his lacrosse and football teammates would unwind during the after-school time before practice and homework. The longing for connection is deeply ingrained in human nature, and video games are a testament to this innate desire.

“If this were a game, he could hit pause. He could restart, say different things, the right ones this time. He could search his inventory for the item that would make Sadie not leave.” 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

The protagonists’ obsession with gaming serves as a lens through which we explore themes of loss, escapism, and the inevitable passage of time. Video games become a vehicle for reconnecting with cherished memories and finding solace amid a bleak existence. They are a bridge to a simpler, more joyful past, acting as a poignant backdrop to the novel’s overarching themes.

Journeying Through the World of Video Games: Unveiling Their Power 

“What is a game? Marx said. It’s tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It’s the possibility of infinite rebirth, infinite redemption. The idea that if you keep playing, you could win. No loss is permanent, because nothing is permanent, ever.”

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

There is an ongoing debate about their influence on players’ behavior in video games. Some argue that video games have the potential to make people violent, but firmly believe otherwise. Amidst this discourse, a thought-provoking quote from an anonymous source emerges: 

“Video games don’t make people violent, but maybe they falsely give you the idea that you can be a hero.”

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

This quote encapsulates a different perspective on the impact of video games, suggesting that the medium may not directly incite violence but rather instills in players a sense of empowerment and heroism. Within the digital realms of gaming, individuals can embody avatars who embark on thrilling quests, conquer seemingly insurmountable challenges, and save the world from impending doom. These virtual exploits bestow players with a taste of what it feels like to be heroic, capable of extraordinary feats.

However, it is essential to recognize the distinction between gaming and reality. While video games may create an illusion of heroism, they do not necessarily translate into real-life actions nor imply that individuals possess superhuman abilities. The quote serves as a reminder that the emotions and aspirations evoked within gaming experiences should be tempered with an understanding of their context.

Ultimately, video games offer a unique form of escapism and entertainment, allowing players to unleash their imagination and immerse themselves in fantastical narratives. Whether they unlock a sense of heroism or serve as a source of leisure, the impact of video games on individuals remains a topic of ongoing fascination and discussion.

End Thoughts

I highly recommend Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. This captivating novel exceeded all my expectations, earning a well-deserved 5-star rating. From the very first page, I found myself completely engrossed in the story, unable to put it down. The unique blend of immersive storytelling and thought-provoking exploration of the gaming world left me in awe. I devoured the entire book in just one weekend, unable to resist the allure of its richly crafted characters and the intriguing narrative that unfolded within the virtual realms. If you’re looking for a book that will transport you to another world and leave a lasting impact, look no further than Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. Be sure to check it out. It is so much fun; you can play one of the games mentioned in the novel and design your own avatar on Gabrielle Zevin’s author webpage. I admit I have done both and will return to play the game again. No, I am not a ‘Gamer’.

Thanks for stopping by the Lit Lounge today. Let me know what you thought of the book if you have read it in the comments. If you haven’t read it – I highly recommend you look for a copy in your local library, or you can find a link to a copy at Amazon below. Until next time, readers, keep turning the pages!

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