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Literature / Murderworld

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"Look—if you have a shitty life, games allow you to simply escape it. And you can take out your rage on people who aren’t actually going to die when you kill them. The beauty of the human mind is its power to create metaphor. Murder is a metaphor for problem-solving, for overcoming adversity, for slaying our demons. It’s catharsis, conquest, and narrative resolution all rolled into one. And it’s fucking fun."

Murderworld is a 2018 novel by Allen White.

Perry Dunne is a San Francisco corporate lawyer. His aggressive boss, Greg Horrow, seeks to gain prestigious game-design clients, and believes that employing a team of competent gamers will enhance the legal firm's prestige. He forces Perry to play the world's most popular game, the violent simulation Murderworld, and insists that Perry (a terrible gamer) earn five kills during the current tournament or lose his job. After being easily dispatched by homicide virtuoso Mari Night, Perry hires her as his mentor, not realizing her game persona hides the identity of 12-year-old Korean schoolgirl Chun Soo-yun. Their quest sets them against both corporate and gaming clan power — including Perry's own famous gamer mother — in the high-stakes arenas of game tournaments and clan merchandising.


This novel provides examples of:

  • Awesome McCoolname: Murderworld is filled with gamers who have named themselves in attempt to appear as badasses — Slaughterella being a successful version — although some naming attempts have gone horribly wrong, e.g. Perry's initial character name, Major Lawsuit.
  • The City Narrows: Nex, a zone infamous for Black Market and criminal activity, which Perry visits to buy information.
  • BFG: Perry owns one, a Llama Pulverizer Mark III, and its image is featured in the book's cover art.
  • Digital Avatar: For much of the story Perry only knows Soo-Yun as her game character, Mari Night.
  • Dual Wielding: Mari Night uses two matched Japanese kodachi swords.
  • Gaming Clan: The Black Lotus clan, in which Perry's famous mother, Slaughterella, is a famous leading member, are some of his main antagonists. Perry's own clan, Red Harvest, is made of terrible players who seem to be mostly single, middle-aged men.
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  • The Metaverse: The virtual space that hosts a variety of entertainments and experiences, including the violent Murderworld game itself, is referred to as the Loka. The user interface for this system is described as a kind of skull-fitted webbing that deciphers brain patterns, which allows users to generate in-Loka actions, and in return receive feedback in the form of a limited range of sensations.
  • The Social Darwinist: Presidential candidate Richard Dancyger is a member of the Social Darwinist Party, a very popular political affiliation among Murderworld gamers, likely because his dog-eat-dog philosophy meshes with their own violent proclivities.