Advance Review: Dialing Up Teen Angst In `Good Game, Well Played’

by Tom Smithyman


This coming-of-age story follows teenager Sienna and a group of her young coworkers as they deal with work and personal issues that will follow them for the rest of their lives. The main characters are well written and drawn, though secondary ones suffer as nothing more than stereotypes.


Computer gamers often use the phrase “good game, well played” or “GGWP” to congratulate someone after a match. But in the hands of comic creators Rachael Smith and Katherine Lobo the phrase takes on a new meaning. Instead of pertaining to a simple game, it seemingly relates to an early chapter or two in their characters’ lives.

Told largely in flashbacks to Boston in 1999, the graphic novel follows teenaged Sienna and a group of her friends who work together at Game Champ, a computer story on the verge of being closed down by an evil landlord. The young characters – including a would-be singer, an aspiring artist, a down-on-her-luck misfit – try to use their talents to bring money in to keep the store open.

This coming-of-age story, penned by Smith, doesn’t necessarily break any new ground. But each primary character is well defined and memorable, which is a considerable task given the number of teens she is trying to portray. Secondary characters, including the landlord, come off as nothing more than one-dimensional stereotypes. Lobo’s artwork has a touch of manga influence as she depicts the teens as they find love and loss.

The story concludes with the gang reuniting for a funeral in 2009. Most of them fell out of touch in 1999, and Sienna left town to start her own business in Texas. She’s not looking forward to the reunion, largely because they split on a down note. But the reunification brings some needed closure to the characters’ stories – as well as a jumping-off spot for some new adventures together.

GGWP is typically typed at a game’s conclusion. In this case, of course, there is no real end. Our time with these characters may have concluded, but they will continue to struggle and grow and live.

Good Game, Well Played will be available for purchase on May 4, 2022.

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