This novel about video games seemed personal to me.

I am a player? For a long time, he would have said no because I don’t spend hundreds of hours digging into a game.

But when I was younger, I loved arcade games and I got really good at Tetris. And in the last few years, I started playing a lot of online bridge and games like Spelling Bee and a bunch of Wordle variants. The definition of a gamer is getting much broader and more inclusive, and it might be fair to start calling myself one.

Either way, I don’t think you need to be a hardcore gamer to enjoy Gabrielle Zevin’s fabulous novel. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It tells the story of Sam and Sadie, two friends who come together Super Mario Bros. as children and grow up to make video games together. Tomorrow was one of the biggest books of last year, and it’s easy to see why. Zevin is a great writer who makes you care deeply about her characters.

Although there are many video games mentioned in the book—oregon trail it is a recurring theme; I would describe it more as a story about partnership and collaboration. When Sam and Sadie are in college, they create a game called ichigo which turns out to be a great success. His company, Unfair Games, is successful, but the two start to clash. Sadie is upset that Sam got most of the credit for ichigo. Sam is frustrated that Sadie cares more about creating art than making her company viable.

Zevin is such a good writer that she makes you like both of them equally. Game developers often have a hard time getting recognition, so Sadie’s position is understandable. But she also comes from a wealthy family unlike Sam, who grew up poor and sees Unfair Games as her doorway to financial stability for the first time. Most of the book is about how a creative partnership can be both remarkable and complicated.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of my relationship with Paul Allen while reading it. Sadie believes that “true collaborators in this life are rare.” I agree, and I was lucky to have one in Paul.

One of the first chapters describing how Sam and Sadie worked until dawn in a dingy apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, could have been about Paul and me coming up with the idea for Microsoft. Like Sam and Sadie, we worked together every day for years. Paul’s vision and contributions to the company were absolutely critical to his success, and he then decided to move on. We had a great relationship, but not without some of the complexities that success brings.

Zevin really captures what it feels like to start a company that gets off the ground. It’s exciting to know that his vision is now real, but success brings many 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?

You can’t help but wonder if you would have been as successful if you had started at a different time. Says Sadie: “If we had been born a little earlier, we wouldn’t have been able to make our games so easily. Access to computers would have been more difficult… And if we had been born a bit later, there would have been even more access to the Internet and certain tools, but honestly, gaming became much more complicated; the industry became so professional. We couldn’t have done as much as we did alone.” I know what you mean: Paul and I were very lucky in terms of our synchronization with Microsoft. We came in when chips were just starting to get powerful, but before other people had built established companies.

Another part of the book that was familiar to me was Sam and Sadie’s dynamic with Marx, a friend from college who is an equal partner in their work. Marx is not a game designer like Sam and Sadie, but ichigo and Unfair Games would not have existed without his production and business know-how. He’s also a charming and fun character who you can’t help but root for throughout the book.

If Paul and I were Sam and Sadie, Steve Ballmer was our Marx. He didn’t write code, but Microsoft’s success depended heavily on him. Like Marx, Steve made sure we hired the right people and had the tools we needed to get the company off the ground. The comparison isn’t perfect: we always appreciate Steve’s value, but in the book, Sam comes to resent Marx and downplays his contributions. (And, of course, Steve became CEO of Microsoft, a position Marx never reaches at Unfair Games.) But Zevin understands that dreamers alone can’t turn big ideas into reality, it takes doers too.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow resonated with me for personal reasons, but I think Zevin’s exploration of partnership and collaboration, no matter who you are, is worth reading. Even if you’re skeptical about reading a book about video games, the subject matter is an excellent metaphor for human connection. As Zevin writes: “Allowing you to play with someone else is not a minor risk. It means allowing yourself to be open, to be exposed, to be hurt. To play requires trust and love.”