This video game novel comes recommended by Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has recommended that his followers read a book about video games — Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.

Released in July 2022, the New York Times Best Seller received largely positive reviews from critics and was named Amazon’s best book of the year.

It tells the story of two friends and video game developers — Sadie Masur and Sadie Green — who clash over the future of their hit Japanese-themed game after co-founding Unfair Games.

Green becomes upset that Masur gets most of the credit for the game, while Masur is frustrated by Green not understanding that a viable company is more important than creating art.

Gates praised Zevin’s ability to make the reader sympathize equally with both characters.

“Female game developers often struggle to receive recognition, so Sadie’s position is understandable,” Gates said.

“But she also comes from a well-off family unlike Sam, who grew up poor and sees Unfair Games as his gateway to achieving financial stability for the first time.”

“Most of the book is about how a creative partnership can be equal parts remarkable and complicated.”

Gates likened the book’s relationship to his experience collaborating with his childhood friend Paul Allen, with whom he co-founded Microsoft in the 1970s.

“Sadie believes that ‘true collaborators in this life are rare.’ I agree, and I was lucky to have one in Paul.”

He explained how an early chapter on Sam and Sadie working together in a dingy apartment until sunrise could have just as easily been about Allen and himself coming up with the idea for Microsoft.

“Like Sam and Sadie, we worked together every day for years,” said Gates.

“Paul’s vision and contributions to the company were absolutely critical to its success, and then he chose to move on.”

“We had a great relationship, but not without some of the complexities that success brings.”

Allen, who died in 2018, was the one who convinced Gates to leave Harvard before finishing his degree.

He left his executive role at the company eight years after it was established, following several fallouts with Gates, which Allen believed contributed to his deteriorating health.

In his 2012 biography “Idea Man”, Allen described how he had regularly clashed with Gates over the direction at the company, often in heated yelling matches in front of staff.

While he attributed some of this to the “intertwined” nature of their partnership, Allen also said Gates was aggressive, competitive, headstrong, and often shouted when angry.

“Whenever we locked horns, I’d have to raise my intensity and my blood pressure to meet Bill’s, and it was taking a toll,” Allen wrote. “Some people can vent their anger, take a breath, and let it go, but I wasn’t one of them.:

“My sinking morale sapped my enthusiasm for my work, which in turn could precipitate Bill’s next attack.”

Allen was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1982.

Sometime after this, he overheard a conversation between Gates and the Microsoft business manager Steve Ballmer, discussing how they wanted to dilute Allen’s shares in the company because they felt he was contributing too little.

Gates apologized for the incident, but the pair could only reconcile after they stopped working together.

Allen continued to serve on the Microsoft board and held shares in the company until his death.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Credit: Bloomberg

Gates said although the book resonated with him for personal reasons, he also thought Zevin’s exploration of partnership and collaboration was worth any reader’s time.

“Even if you’re sceptical about reading a book about video games, the subject is a terrific metaphor for human connection,” Gates said.

Gates said he never considered himself a gamer because he would not spend hundreds of hours “going deep” in one game. Still, he probably qualified under a newer, broad definition that includes those who dipped their toes in Spelling Bee and Wordle.

He felt Zevin “really” captured the feeling of starting a company that takes off.

“It’s thrilling to know your vision is now real, but success brings a lot of new questions.”

“Once you make money, do you still have something to prove? How does your relationship with your partner change once a lot more people get involved? How do you make the next idea as good as the last?”

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This video game novel comes recommended by Bill Gates