Mark Reads ‘Games Wizards Play’: Chapter 9, Part II

In the second half of the ninth chapter of Games Wizards Play, Nita and Kit visit their very first IDAA exhibition, and it is A LOT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

I find myself interested in seemingly mundane details in worldbuilding more often than not, so I love it when something like the IDAA is constructed as it is because it’s glimpse into something that could be possible. Honestly, that’s how you know worldbuilding is successful: you can believe it.

Duane roots the IDAA in something many of us already know: going to conventions. Actually, I’d say that this is a combo of a con and a science fair, and there are so many tiny moments meant to show us how this would work in a world of wizardry. It wasn’t until Kit and Nita made it inside of the Javits Center that I realized that I didn’t understand how wizards could rent out space without revealing themselves to general members of the public. See, the Javits Center is so large that multiple conventions can run at the same time within it. (Which leads me with my sole complaint about all of this: Nita and Kit didn’t get lost within five seconds of entering Javits, THIS IS ALL 100% FAKE.) What if someone else wandered past the hall where the IDAA was taking place? What if the people who ran the Javits center were curious and asked too many questions?

Well, that’s a job for one Sarima Okeke, whose wizardry is one of the most unique specialties I’ve come across in these books:


She uses mircoprinting to jam ENTIRE SPELLS into fonts, which is how the IDAA sign manages to make a person feel bored, tired, and disinterested in the IDAA, so much so that anyone who sees it TURNS AWAY AND WALKS OFF SOMEWHERE ELSE. It’s brilliant! It’s one of A THOUSAND THINGS here that I loved. Like: the floating directory signs. The directory that responds to your questions. The lanyards with spells worked into them to help avoid stragglers. THE MANY, MANY WIZARDRIES ON DISPLAY. Oh my god, I’m so glad that Duane gave so much space here to show us what the other competitors looked like. We get a sense of how far people traveled. How much they worked on their projects. How they each considered various problems that needed to be solved. AND THEN HOW THEY SOLVED THOSE PROBLEMS.

A mobile meteor shield. Redirecting rain to arid locales that desperately needed it WITHOUT DISRUPTING PERCEPTION OF IT. Which… the fact that the wizard responsible for it was conscious of the fact that people would notice a sharp change in the weather/climate is BRILLIANT. Then there was the stealth-shielding, which allowed for a continuous 3D playback of reality FROM TWO MINUTES PRIOR. And y’all, I will admit it felt very comforting to know that even when you possess wizardry, you are still gonna take selfies with cool shit. SO GREAT.

But there’s another reason that that procession of projects was important: It shows us that Penn truly was all on his own. Oh my god, he did exactly what I thought he was going to do, and he was EVEN MORE OUT OF PLACE THAN I EXPECTED. I suppose I was most surprised that it worked. It makes a certain bit of sense: he was showy! He performed his wizardry, and his whole game-show-meets-car-salesman kept people’s attention.

Unfortunately, it didn’t capture Nita, and I don’t blame her. Her anger and disgust at the end of this chapter really felt inevitable to me. Look, even if there’s some ultimate explanation for why Penn acts as he does towards Nita, I don’t know that it’s gonna make up for everything he’s done to her! I just don’t. His rudeness hasn’t gone away; if anything, it’s just changed since they first met. Remember when Nita wondered if the Powers That Be were trying to get her to make Penn a good person? Yeah, that certainly feels like it’s the case. Why did they stick Penn with someone who would torment Nita so much? I DEEPLY SUPPORT HER, OKAY. She’s doing her best, and Penn is… not.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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