On games, friendship, grief, and the creative process.

by Gabrielle Zevin

  • ”You’re incredibly gifted, Sam. But it is worth noting that to be good at something is not quite the same as loving it."
  • "’Life is very long, unless it is not.’ Sadie knew this to be a tautology, but it also happened to be true."
  • "One of Sam’s eventual strengths as an artist and as a businessman was that he knew the importance of drama, of setting the scene. He wanted to ask her to work with him at a special place — the occasion of their prospective creative union should be memorable."
  • "There is a time for any fledgling artist where one’s taste exceeds one’s abilities. The only way to get through this period is to make things anyway."
  • "Sometimes, I would be in so much pain. The only thing that kept me from wanting to die was the fact that I could leave my body and be in a body that worked perfectly for a while — better than perfectly, actually — with a set of problems that were not my own."
    • "Sam’s grandfather had two core beliefs: (1) all things were knowable by anyone, and (2) anything was fixable if you took the time to figure out what was broken"
    • "She was intelligent, but her intelligence didn’t get in her way of her enthusiasm"
    • "Computers are great for experimentation, but they’re bad for deep thinking"
    • "Though you cannot see him, you become aware of the fact that your father is sitting on the floor. He is folding cranes so that your mother can string them. This is marriage."
    • "What is a game? 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, even.”
      • On Unfair Games almost being called Tomorrow Games
    • ”To make a game is to imagine the person playing it"
    • "She had once read in a book about consciousness that over the years, the human brain makes an AI version of your loved ones. The brain collects data, and within your brain, you host a virtual version of that person. Upon the person’s death, your brain still believes the virtual person exists, because, in a sense, the person still does. After a while, though, the memory fades, and each year, you are left with an increasingly diminished version of the AI you had made when the person was alive."
    • "Maybe it was the willingness to play that hinted at a tender, eternally newborn part in all humans. Maybe it was the willingness to play that kept one from despair.”

Parts that I loved that are too long to directly quote

  • The chapter on Marx as a bird being shot in a game juxtaposed with him actually being shot in real life and how it tied back to an earlier flashback where there is a man-sized thrush, stealing a strawberry.
  • How real all the games felt. It must have taken so long to not only write the book, but to write the games in a way that made them feel natural and not potemkin constructions