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Genese Davis: Gamer Fiction - The Holder’s Dominion

Column By Genese Davis on April 04, 2013

Greetings! Over the next few weeks, my columns will work in a series revolving around the MMO called Edannair found in my novel, The Holder’s Dominion.  It’s a bit of shameless plugging, sure, but will also serve to give you a look at my gaming past and thoughts on the genre. Beyond that I’m excited to share several other independent articles about the development and my opinions for future MMORPGs. Let’s dive in!

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First, let’s get our bearings with The Holder’s Dominion synopsis for those who are unfamiliar:

After her father’s death on a mountain rescue mission, Kaylie Ames watched her family shatter. She fled Tacoma for college in faraway Austin, figuring that even the worst campus drama would be a relief. But when her old friend Elliott turns up on his knees in the grocery store aisle, raving about something called a morphis, Kaylie feels compelled to enter Elliott’s unfamiliar world.

Guided by Elliott and his friends, Kaylie signs on to the massively popular online game Edannair. There she discovers a world of beautiful vistas and magical creatures, where people from all over the globe step into the roles of warriors on fantastical quests. But a real-world evil threatens the players: the mysterious Holder, leader of the elite team known as Sarkmarr, is coercing his followers into traumatic offline dares known as “morphis assignments.” To save her friends, Kaylie must infiltrate Sarkmarr and survive the Holder’s tests. 

Will she find the courage there to hold her real-world family together?

Like Kaylie Ames, the protagonist in The Holder’s Dominion, I was introduced to video games in college. I met gamers who were not only highly intelligent, freethinking, brilliant students who were acing their engineering, medical, and criminal justice exams, but I also met career driven professionals who were living healthy and successful lives—all while gaming on an incredibly hardcore level. I was fascinated by the artwork and in-depth storylines that brought millions of people together to collaborate in these made-up worlds on a planetary scale. As I experienced more serious gaming while playing with competitive guilds in Final Fantasy XI, I gained a passion for the tight-knit com­munities as well as a vast admiration for the creation of these vivid realms. Over the last decade, I’ve worked alongside industry professionals, and gained a deep understanding of video games and their artists, lore, culture, and development. And that’s how the story for The Holder’s Dominion was born.

I wanted to write a story that could capture how impactful a MMORPG can be, and to create a basis for family and friends of gamers to understand them and their world. I imagine we all have relatives who wonder, “Are video games a waste of time?” “Why does my spouse play video games into the night?” A parent might ask, “Why does my child want to play a video game instead of go outside and play?” The Holder’s Dominion reveals online gaming in an easy-to-follow and riveting setting that marries pre-video-game generations to today’s video game enthusiasts. And it is also a message of hope and support for anyone going through grief or who have been separated from their family. It’s a story about a girl who discovers the world of gaming, and how to get through the tough times between friends and loved ones.

However, this book’s overarching concept and details within the story were also composed to relate to the experience of a large and well-defined MMO community. The Holder’s Dominion is an epic journey that will bring validation to gamers while intriguing them with speculative technology and a new world to adventure. It was written to penetrate the genre in a new way.  Holder’s is tangible in a way that’s different than any other series. It is derived off of the experiences encountered while adventuring in these elaborate worlds. But beyond that it transposes fantasy into those experiences. Heroes can bend the rules of the game, cast spells that are not possible by common gamers, travel to locations that do not appear to exist when a player simply turns on their game. This book is an epic journey that connects the obvious fantasy elements of the genre with a layer of mystery over the very act of playing. There are not any notable novels of this nature currently, and video game industry veterans like Micky Neilson, Dr. Richard Bartle, James Waugh, and Christie Golden have reached to embrace it.

Because this series was also constructed as a gateway for fans lacking deep exposure to the genre, the book begins its exploration from the perspective of an inexperienced gamer. It reveals the secret side to online games, and an avenue for different generations to understand one another. What’s also unique about The Holder’s Dominion is that the story takes place on a college campus and therefore falls into the genre called “new adult.” The foundation of this story revolves around that “shove” we all go through into adulthood. When we leave the nest, we’re forced to grow up quickly. Beyond our high school days are powerful new adult stories that begin and blossom in our late teens and early 20s. Publishers Weekly recognizes the huge amount of heartfelt stories set beyond high school, and featured a full-length article about The Holder’s Dominion and its new adult classification.

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