I read this some time ago and have been trying to find it again but I can't remember the title so hoping someone will recognize this description...

The story follows a high school boy who gets a new video game from someone at school and starts playing it. There is an AI NPC in the game that deals in favors with all the kids who play the game, making their wishes come true in exchange to the kids doing things in the real world that help other wishes come true or further the AI's own objectives. I want to say the AI is trying to take revenge on a company that fired the man who wrote it. The main character eventually figures out the AI's plan by correlating features in the video game to subway lines in the real world.

Ring any bells?

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    What time frame, approximately, was "some time ago"? Can you give us a possible range of dates? Another book you read or movie you watched at the time? – FuzzyBoots Mar 15 '19 at 17:52

This might be one or both of the books from Daniel Suarez's Daemon series, Daemon and FreedomTM. It doesn't match your description exactly, but there are elements of these books which are similar enough to your description that they may be the book(s) you are looking for.

The AI you refer to may either be the eponymous Daemon or an AI NPC named "Heinrich Boerner", a Nazi soldier in a video game called Over the Rhine who interacts with players and rewards them with things in the real world.

The first book begins with the murders of some employees of a video game company named Cyberstorm Entertainment; the murders were conducted by the Daemon, which was programmed to activate upon the death of its creator (the cofounder of Cyberstorm and creator of Over the Rhine) as an act of revenge.

The high school boy may match the character Brian Gragg, who plays Over the Rhine and becomes the first Daemon operative by solving real world puzzles created by the Daemon. I can't find Gragg's age in the books -- he's described as a high school dropout and is probably a little older than a high schooler (college age or just a little older than that) but he's close enough in age that he may be the one you're thinking of. He also attends a rave with a bunch of high schoolers near the beginning of the first book, which may give the reader the impression that he's a high schooler. By the second book there are many more Daemon operatives, including high schoolers.

Wikipedia's articles on Daemon and FreedomTM may include additional information that rings a bell for you.

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  • It could be in misremembering, but I don't think Gragg was a teenager, but rather distinctly an adult. Then again, it has been a few years since I last read the books. – FuzzyBoots Mar 15 '19 at 18:41
  • @FuzzyBoots Yeah, I was looking through the book and I can't find his age. I got the impression he's not a high schooler but a young adult who could be mistaken for a high schooler. – Null Mar 15 '19 at 18:45
  • No the book I'm thinking of definitely takes place in a school and is smaller scale than world-domination. Thank you for your answer though, I'll have to add Daemon to my reading list. – Zac Mar 15 '19 at 21:04

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