Like some people watch football or baseball, I regularly watch an esport called Starcraft 2. Called a ‘real-time strategy’ game, players make reactive and proactive decisions on the fly while building the right army to attack and defeat their opponent. Gameplay is typically divided into two parts: micro and macro. Micro is the player’s ability to control their army in real time—engaging, retreating, selecting individual units and groups of units to attack and defend, and so on. Macro is the broader picture, the strategic decisions above the real-time decisions that players make toward victory—which units to construct and in what quantity, how to prioritize economy vs military, how to disguise certain activities to fool the other player, etc. In Tom McCarthy’s 2021 The Incarnation of Making the overarching concept is a micro vs. macro affair.
After such intros, I normally jump to a quick plot summary. But there is no story per se in The Incarnation of Making. For lack of a better metaphor, it can feel like channel surfing on valium, with the occasional channel playing the same movie.