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In Extra Lives, acclaimed writer and life-long video game enthusiast Tom Bissell takes the reader on an insightful and entertaining tour of the art click to see more meaning of video games.
In just a few decades, video games have grown increasingly complex and sophisticated, read article the companies that produce them are now among the most profitable in the entertainment industry.
Yet few outside this world have thought deeply about how these games work, why they are so appealing, and what they are capable of artistically.
Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is a milestone work about what might be the dominant popular art form of our time.
His descriptions of simulated game extra lives and mayhem manage to be clinical, gripping, and hilarious all at once.
He transmits to the reader the primitive, visceral excitements that make video games so enticing, even addictive, to their legions of devotees.
A deeply personal work, as entertaining as the video games it profiles.
Extra Lives is like taking a private tour at a very exclusive museum, filled with lost masterpieces you never knew existed.
I wish, someday, to play a game that will stay with me as long as this book about games.
Bissell moves analysis of video games to the next level.
Extra Lives is, among other things, a wonderful example of how and why this imbalance might be fixed.
Extra Lives offers some much-needed smart talk about a medium ripe for a paradigm shift.
So had Hemingway spent way too much time playing World of Warcraft and Fallout 3 on Xbox.
Petersburg, and The Father of All Things.
A recipient of the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Bay de Noc Community College Alumnus of the Year Award, he teaches fiction writing at Portland State University and lives in Portland, Oregon.
He was honest, winning, and thoughtful in that piece, and the piece has been reproduced in its entirety as the final essay in a collection of essays about video games in "Extra Lives.
It is essentially game extra lives game criticism -- an analysis of its gameplay mechanics -- but it is also attempts to explore if video games can become great pieces of art and literature.
As someone who both likes to read and who likes to play video games with literary pretensions Final Fantasy VII, Warcraft, Starcraft, etc.
I was intrigued by the book at first, but soon found it too mired down by its own literary pretensions.
Part of the problem for me -- and to be perfectly fair to the author -- is that Tom Bissell is almost completely focused on first-person shooter games I prefer role-playing games or real-time strategyand I've never played any shooter games.
That said, I found it disappointing that there wasn't a much eclectic mix of video game genres in this book.
While Tom Bissell introduces us to some great video games I was surprised that he didn't mention Blizzard at all -- a great video game company whose products more info just as memorable and exciting as Grand Theft Auto and Bioshock.
This was so pleasurable to read that I tried to savor it more but couldn't help myself.
The Hype Was warranted Okay, mixed this up with some other book that was supposed to be released recently?
I stand by what I said, free nba games live />As long someone who reads all day every day but has game extra lives communicating, this was a hit of the most wonderful literary delicious stuff for someone who loves games but can't articulate why As the writer himself discusses this book is set and likely will become dated.
However, the books works to inform about game extra lives world of gaming and how games have an impact on game extra lives />A mix of personal experience and reviews of games it interesting to see the thoughts of Bissell unfold around us.
I had original bought the book looking to see if this could provide some more general philiosphical stuff but it does not.
If you are looking for something that will provide arguements on why games have a place in serious society you will not find it here.
The most you will walk away with in that vain is in the first chapter when Bissell talks game extra lives how playing games provided him an extra life to live.
Still this is a pretty good read.
If anything get the audio book and listen to it.
I loved this book.
It is a critique of video games as a medium.
No critique of an art form is possible without giving the context of the one experiencing the art, so Bissell obliges and fills us in.
I wish he'd spent more time talking to more indies than Jonathan Blow.
Even in 2010 and before there was lots of great stuff happening in go here indie scene.
I suspect it's because he didn't play indies and that would've broken from the memoir-ish aspects of the book.
Throughout the book Bissell, by turns, loves video games and hates them and is proud of them and picks at them and plays them and tries to get away from them.
This guy loves video gaming, clearly.
He also has no idea exactly why and spoiler alert the book does not give a clear answer.
However, I think that's a strength and a startling bit of honesty: this book is not going to be able to tell you why this art matters to you.
That's your answer to give.
No objective truths here because there is no such thing.
The currency of mattering is emotion.
Bissell focuses a lot on narrative and whether or not games with narratives work.
Clearly they don't, he'll say.
Then he'll provide a bit of narrative that worked.
But, boy, that dialogue was terrible.
But this voice acting in this other game was great.
All these things are true at the same time of virtually all games.
The most successful video games of all time have terrible formal structures or are super violent or racist or whatever.
And we love them.
The other reviews exemplify the ambivalence that Bissell displays in the book perfectly.
One review talks about the storyline for Mass Effect like this: ".
visit web page classic or light entertainment?
Another review says the book is "entirely too academic" but "There is no sociological umbrella theory at work here, just Tom Bissell's own experiences.
Did you want to position games in some higher-level framework, or didn't you?
No answers, lots of ambiguity, more of a memoir than an instruction book.
But, I think, also a great introduction to how deeply meaningful games can be for someone who doesn't quite "get it".
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Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell
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Tom Game extra lives is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of online casino malaysia />He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Extra Lives is an impassioned defense of this assailed and misunderstood art form.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is like no other book on the subject ever published.
Whether you love video games, loathe video games, or are merely curious about why they are becoming the dominant popular art form of our time, Extra Lives is required reading.
The title of this book is Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
Yet, all of these are interesting accounts of his experiences in and impressions of the games while none of them indicate why the games might matter.
He is even more condescending when it comes to game writing predominantly speaking of dialogue and the game press.
There is a theme of the frustrated, would-be game writer that runs through the book.
My favorite quotation in the book is when Bissell describes the evolution of video game graphics.
Are, developmentally speaking, cave paintings, whereas Tempest and Pac-Man are something like modernism, albeit a modernism of necessity.
Within the evolution of video games, no naturalistic stage between the primitivism of Pong and the modernism of Tempest was possible due to the technological limitations to which game designers were subject.
About this web page center of the book, Bissell admits that video games have improved on almost every level—aesthetic, characterization, dialogue, and emotional appeal—but insists that games started at a degree of minus efficacy pp.
That is why I cannot recommend what could have been an important book.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extr I'm a gamer, plain and simple.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extra Lives attempts to touch upon this question as well as analyze the media's strengths and weaknesses in character design, narrative, click to see more />The writing is very analytical and intellectual, giving me flashbacks at times to my days as an English Major, reading through literary journals for paper ideas.
The book does a great job of introducing concepts to readers who have not played alot of games, so anyone interested in the topic can walk away with something, regardless of background knowlegde.
But what I think I was most impressed with is Bissell's ability to help me look at games I have played in a brand new way.
Many of the games he discussed in the book I have played, and he brings up so many fascinating questions that have really changed how I look at some of the experiences.
In the end, I am really glad that I read this book and am glad that books like this are simply out there.
Video games are really the weird kid in the class when it comes to respected medias and it really shouldn't be the case.
Just like there are mindless movies and mindless books, there are, ofcourse, mindless games.
But also just like books and movies and music, there are real things that can be taken away from video games.
Because it's still a relatively new media, this idea really isn't understood by the masses.
But as the gamers of old become adults and the media continues to become more widespread, I think a time will come where a conversation about Animal Farm will be just as respected as a conversation about Bioshock.
And it will come thanks to books that point out the importance of the media, just like Bissell's extra lives.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not that book.
The title is more than a little misleading.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not that book.
The title is more than a little misleading.
More often than not, this hinges on the writing in the games — the subtext of which seems to be that the author believes games would be a whole lot better if the industry employed more people like him.
Bissell gives the impression that he thinks rather highly of himself, and finds many opportunities to remind the reader of his accomplishments, in-game or otherwise.
The result of all of this, unfortunately, is that the book is an infuriating mess.
Bissell is so self-satisfied, his writing so masturbatory, that I found myself actively disliking him not far into the book — and it only gets worse with each subsequent chapter.
Now, I like video games, believe you me — but reading about why he played his Mass Effect character the way he did, or his description of playing Resident Evil for the first time, is painfully boring.
As I alluded to earlier, I really wanted to like this book.
Suggested alternate title: Tom Bissell Presents The Tom Bissell Story In Which Video Games are Played Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
But I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
The Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
But I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
There simply isn't time for everything, and if I want to finish even the meager number of books I need to read for work, something has to go.
Video games were what went.
I was never much of a gamer anyway.
I gravitated towards sports games, for one thing.
I had a long, meaningful relationship with the Indianapolis Colts of Madden 98, which I played on an old Nintendo system I had dug out of my parents' basement.
I'd get home from work late at night, drink a six-pack of domestic beer, and command my team of pixelated men to victory after victory.
These were the nights when I didn't listen to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks over and over again.
There were a few years there where I didn't get laid a lot.
Tom Bissell's Extra Lives sort of makes me want to carve out some time for video games.
Well, it makes me wish I had the time to carve out.
Bissell traces the evolution of games from Resident Evil up through Grand Theft Auto IV, and in the process asks many difficult questions about games and, indeed, art itself.
click to see more a video game have a story that matches the narrative complexity of a great novel?
Can it go beyond that?
What are the implications of playing a video game in which your character participates in atrocity after atrocity?
The days have arrived when we can talk about video games alongside books and films as great works of narrative art.
This is the first book, to my knowledge, to do so.
I suspect this book would be even more engaging for someone with a passing knowledge of the games he discusses -- Fall Out, Mass Effect, Bio Shock, Far Cry 2, etc.
Bissell's brain is pretty incredible, though, and his sharp, toothy prose fun words Bissell uses include 'sororus' and 'ludonarrative' and perspective was enough to keep this non-gamer turning the pages.
I was enjoying the book until its final chapter, about Grand Theft Auto IV, and Bissell's concurrent decent into cocaine use.
That chapter took the book from a great work of criticism to something more, something higher.
Recommended for anyone with an interest in gaming, narrative, art, or criticism.
I more info reading this book despite the glaring "literariness" of the writing.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
To view it, The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enrich your narrative, adding a personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being kind of annoying.
Unfortunately, Tom Bissell's Most Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the questi The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enrich your narrative, adding a personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being kind of annoying.
online live basketball games free, Tom Bissell's Most Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the question asked in the subtitle of this book, "Why video games matter," he instead takes the reader on an occasionally drug-laced trip through why he likes video games.
Along the way he peppers in references to the fact that he's single and can't hold a relationship, he's traveled all over the world, and totally randomly he was addicted to cocaine while he played through Grand Theft Auto IV who knows how many times.
That book could have been good, but this book as it is is trying too hard.
It's part that, and partartsy-fartsy commentary on video games and how they make https://agohome.ru/live/free-online-nba-games-live.html er, Tom Bissell think about violence and character and story.
It's the latter that I liked the best despite it occasionally being extremely heavy-handed and smug.
I don't think Far Cry 2 is some kind of amazingly well-crafted love letter to violence and escapism and man's inhumanity to man, and I don't think the people who made the Grand Theft Auto games are making particularly clever statements when they put a coffee cup in the Statue of Liberty's hand or call Metlife Getalife.
I would say it is really very difficult for a game that has dozens of people working on it to come together to create something as artistic as Tom Bissell thinks video games live cricket game all stars />I do love video games.
Video games brought me some fond memories: playing rented games on my dad's Xbox, obsessing over the winding plot of Tales of Symphonia with my then-boyfriend in my college dorm, beating Castlevania: Curse of Darkness with my little brother, and more.
But I don't think that talking about them the way Tom Bissell does is going to advance them in anyone's mind quite yet.
Yes, some people are devoted to games the way this web page devote themselves to any true artistic measure.
The indie games on the PlayStation Network, WiiWare and XBox Live attest to that.
But I don't think you can put a game churned out by a big company up on a pedestal.
I'll put Mass Effect right up there with all the love Tom gives it.
Even if he played Shepard totally wrong.
Up there I said the trip through this book is "occasionally drug-laced," but I think that's the wrong choice of words.
Drugs are only mentioned in the very last chapter, which is why it seems so random once he starts to wax poetic about cocaine.
He tries to tie his journey through Grand Theft Auto IV to his cocaine addiction, and it just falls flat.
You cannot yet compare a video game to game extra lives life.
He just comes across as a total loser in that chapter and it was a really awkward way to end the book.
I'm waiting for a really good book on this topic.
One of the most consistent criticisms I see in other negative reviews of this book is that Tom Bissell's tone is puzzlingly ambivalent.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the only take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the only take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
In fact, more than a month after having listened to the audiobook, I don't feel that his argument was very enlightening at all.
If anything, it made me feel rather pessimistic and uninspired about the next generation of games, and I don't think that was the intended aim of the book.
I really wanted to like this book.
I love the idea of discussing how we could improve games and particularly narrative-driven games.
Yet the only sections of the book that I found worthwhile, were the parts that focused on veteran game designers' POVs and not the author's.
His interviews with Cliff Bleszinski Gears of WarJohnathan Blow Braidand Peter Molyneux Fable to name a few were the most informative on the attitudes and trends of the current video game industry towards designing narrative-driven games, and what designing games is like today vs.
Another problem I had with this book had to do with the author's strange tone of voice.
At numerous points here the audiobook I felt as if the author was talking to a predominately male audience.
I found this alienating, as it felt as if I was overhearing his argument from an exclusive group huddle.
Weird seeing as he started out the book targeting an audience of critics who may not have much experience with videogames.
Even weirder seeing as over 40% of the gamer crowd is female.
That's not to say I was expecting to read a book that absolutely represented every single gamer that would be a little unrealistic and unfairbut I at least expected to read a book with a bit more of a neutral voice.
Some quotes I actually had to write down or make mental notes of to insert into this review because they struck me as not only awkward, but sometimes offensive in a "too-much-information" way.
Such as Bissell's musing over how he "liked the corporate diligence the upper-tier prostitutes worked the casino bars" in Las Vegas why do I care?
Despite dedicating the book to his two nieces, who he often plays games with, I found Bissell's tone odd and often disconcerting.
I also found it strange that almost every game he chose to talk about, was a game that was not very story-driven at all, or games that were influential, but not very useful to his argument.
For instance, that he spends almost a quarter of the book talking about Farcry and footnotes Shadow of the Colossus and Metal Gear Solid seemed a very odd choice for his arguments that games can tell meaningful stories and have successful game mechanics as well.
It's true that you can't include everything in a survey of the video games industry for critics, but I felt as if he'd missed out on some opportunities to discuss games like Metal Gear Solid, that work with many different forms of media for game design inspiration.
Perhaps what took up the space he could've used to discuss some of the games he footnoted, was his sudden switch into autobiography at the tail-end of the book, when he details a cocaine addiction that he suffered while playing GTA and how this epitomized what modern games are like.
Not only did I feel as though the rug was pulled from beneath me at this point of the book, I also felt as if this was a book you would not want to give someone who was skeptical about games and gamer culture.
I understand Bissell prefaced the book with a statement about how much of the views expressed in the book would be personal, but I felt this last story of his addiction should've been saved for another book that was focusing more on his life being a critic that wrote on games and not for a book where he's trying to prove that games are worth people's time.
I guess the bottom line of this review is, I didn't retain much of my experience of listening to this audiobook.
I feel as though I could have looked up gamasutra articles on the creators interviewed in the book and garnered about the same amount of useful information as I did from reading Extra Lives.
I'm glad more varied books on games are coming out on the market, but I'm disappointed I couldn't have enjoyed this book or learned from it more.
An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important are An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important areas to look at.
The author talks about himself quite oft and in high horse terms.
Then in later segments he'll give out more detail about these claims, and his character falters significantly, and credibility with it.
Such as his time in the peace corps which turns out to be a few weeks till he packs it in because he can't hang with it.
Man, best to either not mention in the first place, or go ahead and let me think you actually made an effort to help the world.
Too, some of his descriptions of games generate questions of "did you even play this title?
Much better portions are snippets from industry pros.
He's got a wide range from industry rebel, Johnathan Blow creator of Braid, to mundane "business something something" at Sony.
Going by what he is able to draw out of these folks, and what to distill unto us the reader, I wager the author is far better suited to interviews than critique.
The book does shine in the very last chapter, however, it's cringingly necessary to have read everything else to get the full weight.
We're talking about several pages supposedly devoted to the analysis of Grand Theft Auto as a series and focusing in on IV.
By far the best analysis in the entire book, but more interestingly is the odd story the author tells about his drug addictions.
Early in the book he talks about being an unashamed partaker of marijuana, but that's it nothing else!
However, as he cracks open GTA IV he describes his friend cuttin' several lines of coke.
European alley ways for his dealer to hopefully return a dose of the goods in exchange for all those wads of cash handed over.
Unfortunately, the author never really gets into his abuse issues, or directly confronts why his personality is flawed, weak, and he needs to do this tho he does hint heavily.
And this could have made for a far more interesting read.
But after finishing this final chapter the reader realizes the book was not so much about games, but the author's attempt to do some therapeutic talking to.
Many of his pompous personal claims are later pulled down, his strict drug policies are found to be anything but, he has security issues needing workt thru, but never brings himself to such; always skirting that bush, but breaking off several branches during the circlings.
A book less about games, and more about personal demons.
Fails at both, but encourage a re-write focusing on the latter.
Epilogue: Jacket design by Chip Kidd, basically the "it" man for 90's book designs.
His work here is shamelessy careless to the point of insult, and herein I agree.
The utter lack of care by such a talent speaks volume to the quality of the content, and seen in such light.
It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video gaming habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video games.
For example, the blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Check this out might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has pl It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough click to see more gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video gaming habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video games.
For example, the blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Evil might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has played that game and especially that section of that game more times than he cares to admit, I found that there were very few actual insights in this chapter.
I recently listened to an interview with the author on the Brainy Gamer podcast.
The pre-defined audience of this podcast allowed him to go into a lot of detail regarding his thoughts on the relationship between cocaine and GTA IV, and I was left wondering why he couldn't have included these thoughts in the actual book he was promoting?
It would have made the book a lot more enjoyable.
In the end, I feel as if the author failed to show us 'why video games matter', but rather told us why video games matter to him - and even then only weakly.
For a more engaging and coherent argument on why video games matter, check out.
I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into that scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat rooms and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games tha I think I come to game extra lives book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into that scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat rooms and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games that I have for books.
So there's this whole evolution of gaming that sort of passed me by, and curiosity about what exactly was going on in those games kind of drew me to this book and I wasn't disappointed.
The author talks about all the different console games he has obsessed over and spent huge chunks of his life on, and in doing so brings about a very fascinating discussion of the elements of those games and what works and doesn't work.
I really enjoyed the whole analysis of "story" and why it is so difficult to incorporate it well into a game, and which games attempt it and fail and which games have broken new ground in that area.
He talks about the killing and the violence in a very matter-of-fact way which I guess if you've spent days and months killing people in-game you can get pretty matter-of-fact about it.
He pretty much bypasses game extra lives the Mario's and Donkey Kong games because those are mostly memorization; he discusses titles like Grand Theft Auto, and Left 4 Dead, and other various first person shooter games where you play a character that is more than an entity that hits bricks with their heads to get coins.
There's a lot of discussion about "agency"; the ability of the player to choose what happens next in a storyline as opposed to just "playing through the level" or from the beginning of the story to the end.
I wish I didn't have to read the last part, about where he loses himself inside cocaine addiction for awhile.
But in the end it totally makes sense because he admits that gaming, to him, was like cocaine and became inextricably tied up with cocaine, so that now when he replays the games they feel flat and lifeless because he isn't high.
The author also talks about his connections to certain game characters, especially Niko in Grand Theft Auto, and that to me was the most fascinating part of the book.
He connected less with the heroic, world-saving characters than he did with Niko, a misfit out-of-his-element guy trying to get a leg up and mostly not doing it very well.
After all, we can't imagine ourselves saving the world every day, but we sure can relate to making mistakes and haplessly stumbling through life.
This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
He talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about that you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
It was really refreshing to hear someone appreciate the world of games, the place they take you.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
He talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about that you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
It was really refreshing to hear someone appreciate the world of games, the place they take you.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets a little repetitive; describing every game 'beautiful and amazing'.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time waxing obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a sizable chunk of t "Extra Lives: Why Video Games Suck" At least, that's what this book should be called.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time waxing obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a sizable chunk of the book has nothing to do with why they matter.
Bissell constantly wanders off on self-indulgent treks through his own experiences playing games, including a painfully narcissistic retelling of heroically saving his teammates at the last possible moment in a round of Left live london Dead.
These tales of gaming add nothing to his supposed "claim" that video games matter; they only recount moments that anyone who's played the game would recognize, while allowing himself to praise his own decisions and "analyze" them by comparing them to other games he's played.
He also includes, at the beginning of the second chapter, a massive retelling of the first few minutes of the original Resident Evil.
On my e-book copy, this retelling took up 23 of the chapter's 36 pages, with the rest mainly devoted to mocking its terrible dialogue.
Content aside, this book was painful to get through.
The author's prose reeks of a thesaurus, and includes such gems as: "I have already quoted some of the game's dialogue, which at its least weird sounds as though it has been translated out of Japanese, into Swahili, back into Japanese, into the language of the Lunar Federation, back into Japanese, and finally into English.
He also compares Silent Hill's poor voice acting to "autistic miscalculation" in choosing which words to stress in a sentence.
I could go on, but these two examples alone should make my point.
Finally, Bissell does a disservice to the medium as a whole by focusing on only two genres of games, one in particular: shooters are clearly his favorite, while platformers limp into second place with a single devoted chapter.
Resident Evil, Fallout, Grand Theft Auto, Far Cry, and Mass Effect each have a chapter to themselves, with Left 4 Dead taking a sizable chunk of a supposedly multi-game chapter.
Braid is the only non-shooter game to be given significant attention.
A single chapter is devoted to an interview with Braid's creator, Jonathan Blow, but focuses more on his views of the gaming industry as a whole than the game itself.
Another chapter is named Littlebigproblems, a clear play on the game LittleBigPlanet, but that game is only mentioned at the end of the chapter when Bissell laments how many awards it won.
By focusing so singularly on shooters, he excludes the vast majority of the medium, ignoring or only briefly mentioning such genres as puzzle, RPG, strategy, simulation, MMO, adventure, fighting, stealth, music, and casual games.
Many of his complaints, especially about supposedly lacking storytelling, figure differently into each genre, and it makes it seem like Bissell cherry-picked the specific games he examined to support his chief complaints.
Overall, this book was terrible.
I expected a look at why video games matter.
I received an essay on why video games are an artless, time-wasting medium, according to a man who sings nothing but weak complaints and his own praises.
I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book w I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book was 'Why Video Games Matter,' one critic had stated that the book more accurately described why video games matter to the author.
In fact, there are a number of reasons that video games are really important.
The author alludes to some of them.
Video games, especially first-person shooter games, are very popular among members of the military.
The video game industry is huge, rivaling other media, like movies.
Video games can be used to simulate a lot of different scenarios.
Video games are incredibly violent and encourage people to be violent or don't, I don't know.
So analyze those reasons.
Why are video games popular among the military or how do video games help members of the military develop needed skills?
Or how do video games prevent members of the military from developing needed skills, if that's the case.
What we get instead is a retelling of some of the author's favorite game playing moments.
At times, we get a somewhat self-righteous account of why the author decided not to make a particular video game character take unnecessary violent actions since that would have violated the vision of the game developers.
Ultimately, instead of getting an explanation of why video games matter, I think we get a portrait of a life in which too much time was spent wasted playing video games and taking drugs, with one habit seeming to fuel the other.
The author seems to have been frequently more concerned with whether his female video game characters would consummate their relationships than whether he would consummate his own.
By the learn more here, I was a bit depressed and actually felt like I disliked the author.
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's experience playing first person shooter style games that I don't play.
Where is the universality?
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's experience playing first person shooter style games that I don't play.
Where is the universality?
And where is any shred of an argument supporting the stated importance of video games?
The essays are super disjointed, as a result, there is zero flow in the book.
The chapters don't seem to have any relationship to one another except that they are all about video games.
And for an avid gaming enthusiast Bissell has a surprisingly uncomfortable relationship to his geekery.
But it was the blatant misogyny that ultimately cemented my dislike for Bissell.
In one particularly gross example he wanders into a video game developing company and confronts attractive women milling around.
He then wonders if the company has "expanded to include an escort service or modeling agency or both.
Oh and he also compares Vegas to a spent whore: "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
A lot of readers felt alienated by the chapter on Bissell's cocaine addiction.
I actually felt like it was one of the few times in the book where Bissell is in touch with his humanity and has something interesting to say.
To review Tom Bissell's latest work, it seems one must start off with a little personal background, so as not to be dismissed out-of-hand as an outsider.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
I personally have never gotten too excited about first-person shooters, but I do love a good story woven into my game.
At the outset of Extra Lives, it was apparent that the differences in my personal taste in games would not matter and that Bissell's own skill with narrative could transcend the fact that we will likely never cross paths in an online game forum.
The first few chapters of the work were excellently written: though I have never played Fallout 3 or Resident Evil, and have only fleeting acquaintance with Left click the following article Dead, I was still transported and engaged.
I shared Bissell's frustration with the often teeth-grindingly-terrible dialog in games and was breathlessly beside him as he tiptoed his way past hordes of zombie minions in Left for Dead.
I found myself openly laughing at Bissell's wit and excited about his apparent insights into gaming.
Even while discussing fairly specific experiences, Bissell was speaking to the heart of gaming in general.
Bissell has clearly thought deeply about gaming; how it could be improved and how impactful it already is on even the casual gamer.
He repeatedly discusses his ideas on how gaming should be improved and how it can be elevated as an art form.
He makes the argument that games, rather uniquely as an art form, can achieve a level of interactivity that places the gamer in situations they would never encounter in life.
With such a strong base, I was hooked and excited to hear what Bissell had to say on this matter.
Unfortunately, as I progressed past the first third of the book, it seemed as though Bissell lost his way.
A good portion of the middle section of this book seemed more appropriate for a magazine game review and was just plain frustrating to anyone who has not specifically played the game in question.
I soldiered on anyway, kept from total madness by the occasional interviews that Bissell had with various game designers — all of which were excellent and revealing.
Armed with more information than I cared to know on the realistic pleas for mercy programmed into the computer characters within Far Cry 2, I approached the final chapter — wherein Bissell discusses his addiction to cocaine and we are assured completely unrelated addition to Grand Theft Auto IV.
All of the formidable powers of insight that Bissell displays in dissecting the minute flaws of story or gameplay vanish when he turns his gaze upon his own life.
The central problem of this book became apparent to me only once it was finished: Tom Bissell is far too personally involved with the games and gamer culture that he is reporting upon.
In his book Bissell approaches the edge of the most important and interesting questions facing the gaming industry and any self-aware gamer.
Having brought the reader to this vantage point, Bissell merely dances distractingly in place for hundreds of pages.
I agree with Bissell that it would be great to elevate the art of game design — making games more insightful, impactful and involving.
But the next obvious discussion following this is one of content.
Yet what does it mean that when Bissell and many other gamers are free to pursue these impulses, they are mostly destructive?
Why, among the dozens of blockbuster games that Bissell highlighted, were almost all of them exceptionally violent?
In a discussion of the meaning of games, why was there only fleeting reference to scientific studies suggesting games impact the user in significant ways?
Yet, in the very next chapter, Bissell gleefully recounts his in-game actions upon the citizens programmed in Grand Theft Auto IV; namely, finding thousands of clever and gruesome ways to massacre them.
I think many serious gamers myself included are conflicted in a similar manner; amazed at the power and imagination of games — yet a little frightened of the emotional sway those games can hold over them.
But surely in a book about the meaningfulness of games, a discussion on the broader impact of game content on their users is relevant?
Bissell is clearly an intelligent and usually insightful guy.
He speaks of what a powerful force gaming can be, what an influential force it has been in his life, then speaks of how he dreams of a future where such games are even more inspiring and engrossing.
Given his significant personal experience wrestling with the darker side of games in his life, the absence of any substantial discussion on the ethics surrounding game design is particularly glaring.
Unfortunately, he cowardly lets himself, and the entire gaming industry, off very lightly in this book.
Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew was getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Circuit, and all of the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed t Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew was getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Bravo poker live game report, and all of the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed to have—just like Reader Rabbit was the first, and please click for source a long time the only, computer game permitted me.
Which is not to say I was omg horribly deprived or anything.
Just: I never developed an interest in video games, and I still don't have one—the only modern game I think I've played is Rock Band, and when I play that at parties I always try to position myself as the singer because I lack the hand-eye coordination to succeed at any of the instruments.
That's the price of a childhood without video games, right there.
Nevertheless, I was enthralled by Bissell's treatise on their cultural importance.
Like an extended version of 's fabulous essay on Saved By the Bell which I also wasn't allowed to watch—no cartoons, either fromBissell combines examples of what video games have meant to him with an exploration of what larger significance they have or might one day hope to achieve.
I may have even been at an advantage, having no idea what Bissell was talking about: I've seen some other reviewers complain that, for example, the long section where he takes the reader step-by-step, moment-by-moment through the opening of the first Resident Evil game is too much of a rehash if you've played it.
I haven't, and therefore I found it fascinating to experience this paradigm-shifting game along with Bissell's younger self.
Do I really need more ways to waste time?
I have the internet, thanks.
I know this sounds like circular logic, but: the stuff that matters matters.
I can has my sociology degree nao?
My copy came in at the library the same day I got the new Arcade Fire album, The Suburbs, and the two go beautifully together, both evoking this sense of isolation among sprawl and summoning up images of post-apocalyptic landscapes.
A theme in many video games—maybe I am missing out?
I haven't had two disparate works work so well together since the Christmas I was given both 's and Sarah McLachlan's Touch.
Ginger Series authors give us an entry into a world they enjoy, even adore, through sharing the story of their own romantic relationship with it.
Bissell takes this autobiographical approach much further.
His book criss-crosses between reportage, travelogue, love letter, and excoriating self confession, especially when it comes to his several years spent not writing he was the author of several books of fiction and a regular columnist for a number of magazinesplaying games in marathon-like sessions, and throwing cocaine up his nose: Soon I was sleeping in my clothes.
Soon my hair was stiff and fragrantly unclean.
Soon I was doing lines before my Estonian class, staying up for days, curating prodigious nose bleeds and spontaneously vomiting from exhaustion.
Soon my pillowcases bore rusty coins of nasal drippage.
Soon the only thing I could smell was something like the inside of an empty bottle of prescription medicine.
Soon my biweekly phone call to my cocaine dealer was a weekly phone call.
Soon I was walking into the night, handing hundreds of dollars in cash to a Russian man whose name I did not even know, waiting in alleys for him to come back — which he always did, though I never fully expected him to — and retreating home, to my Xbox, to GTA IV, to the electrifying solitude of my mind at play in an anarchic digital world.
Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of cocaine is one I loathe.
I do know that video games have enriched my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
They have also done damage to my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
I let this happen, of course; I even helped the process along.
As for cocaine, it has been a long time since I last did it, but not as long as I would like.
Bissell seems more performance and personality focused his interviews with figures in the game design world are a strength of the book that prevent it from becoming me-me-me-ishBarr somewhat more philosophical and reflective.
For Bissell, the writer, this concern is storytelling, and how video games are still weighted towards game play rather than narrative: This is one of the most suspect things about the game form.
However, he continues, in that essay he was trying to talk about the intelligence that distinguishes art works from everything else.
Intelligence, he says, can be expressed in all sorts of way; morally, formally, technically, stylistically, thematically, emotionally.
Masterpieces - the things we identify as wiping the table with their intelligence - are comprehensively intelligent; intelligent in all sorts of ways.
And they are generally the result of one unified vision, one single game.
Bissell is unsure: A noisy group of video-game critics and theoreticians laments the rise of story in games.
Tetris would be the best example of this sort of game.
My suspicion is that this lament comes less from frustration with story qua story than it does from the narrative butterfingers on outstanding display in the vast majority of contemporary video games.
I share that frustration.
I also love being the agent of chaos in the video game world.
What I want from games - a control as certain and seamless as the means by which I am being controlled - may be impossible, and I am back to where I began.
Bissell also observes that video games are different from other art forms in one very exact way: the player is just that - not a viewer or reader, but an active, decision-making participant.
His special interest - as a gamer, an academic, and increasingly the game creator - it is playing against the grain, exploring what the world offers, how far you can probe it.
What happens if you walk away from your mission and instead decide to drive your car into a lake or watch a rabbit hop around your horse?
Drive for a while, and listen to a jazz station on the radio as you search for something new to do.
You carefully drive the lage garbage truck down leafy pathways, swerving to avoid pedestrians.
Looking for an amusing diversion, you drive into a lake and somehow manage to keep going with half the vehicle submerged.
The music becomes muted by the water, lending a muffled soundtrack to the already strange scene.
You drive like this for a while, tooting the horn at people walking next to the water.
They stop and star at the incongruous sight of a garbage truck driving in a lake in Central Park.
The idea that we can decide how we feel like relating to a video game is important, even revolutionary.
It means we are playing the game, not the other way around.
Playing a game can be seen as a kind of conversation with its designer.
Their answer comes in the way the game responds to your actions.
This was the point that really fired my imagination in the two books - and brought me circling back to the frustration Bissell feels.
The one exception might be the kinds of game that Barr clearly loves: simulations like The Sims, and the collaborative world-building game MInecraft.
It is the potential for collaborative play that really seems to thrill him: A big part of the excitement of playing a game with someone else is sharing a world with them.
Often this means teaming up to engage in mortal combat against others.
In Left 4 Dead, a zombie-based game, four players join forces to try and survive in various zombie-infested locations.
While battling zombies is entertaining on its own, having a friend rush to your side to dislodge a zombie and then give you medical aid can really get the adrenaline pumping … … There are few gaming experiences more immediately stunning than seeing another person run past you in the same virtual world.
The realisation that various moving figures around you are, in reality, all people who are playing the same game, following the same rules, and sharing many of the same objectives as you is a paradigm shift.
With more space and a different remit, but to the same conclusion, Bissell also discusses Left 4 Dead.
For what more can one ask?
What more could one want?
I want to bring in a quote now from a recent post on.
In this post, Barr comes back to this point he and Bissell have been circling, this magical opportunity.
Perhaps one of the challenges for tragedy in video games is to jettison the notion that the player should always be the explicit author of their circumstances but instead as merely one part in a larger world which is not always impressed or even affected by their actions.
But both have opened my eyes, not just to the rich, deep, wide, silly, expensive, violent, harrowing and pluripotent world of video games, but also to the conversations that go on within it.
I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into c I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into console games, but I did have a 5+ year addiction to the MMORPG Runescape-- and while I look on those lost years very fondly, I don't consider them to be of any inherent value.
There are two main reasons my I personally don't think video games can justify their existence.
First is that they are an addictive time sink, with the corollary that the lost time takes away from not only more productive hobbies, but also things necessary for existence like an income to provide for yourself and healthy relationships.
The second is that many OK, not all, but quite a darn few including the entire genre of FPS games video games are extremely violent, and they treat violence very casually.
Just reading paragraph after paragraph in this book shows you how casually murder is treated in these things, and the author admitting multiple times that, well, you just kind of don't feel anything: At one point in Far Cry 2, I was running along the savanna when I was spotted by two militiamen.
I turned and shot, and, I thought, killed them please click for source />When I waded into the waist-deep grass to pick up their ammo, it transpired that one of the men was still alive.
He proceed to plug me with his sidearm.
Frantic, and low on health, I looked around, trying to find the groaning, dying man, but the grass was too dense.
I sprinted away, only to be hit by a few more of his potshots.
When I had put enough distance between us, I lobbed a Molotov cocktail into the general area where the supine, dying man lay.
Within seconds, I could hear him screaming amid the twiggly crackly of the grass catching fire.
Sitting before my television, I felt a kind of horridly unreciprocated intimacy with the man I had just burned to death.
If the video game references were taken out of this passage and you didn't know the context, this would be horrible.
But because it's a video game.
It's just flashes of pixelated light.
A third critique of video games that I thought of while reading the book was given in an article by Mormon apostle David A.
Bednar that I find philosophically interesting, even if it isn't the first reason that might come to your mind.
My heart aches when a young couple—sealed together in the house of the Lord for time and for all eternity by the power of the holy priesthood—experiences marital difficulties because of the addicting effect of excessive video gaming or online socializing.
A young man or woman may waste countless hours, postpone or forfeit vocational or academic achievement, and ultimately sacrifice cherished human relationships because of mind- and spirit-numbing video and online games.
Are you suggesting that video gaming and various types of computer-mediated communication can play a role in minimizing the importance of our physical bodies?
We game extra lives at a time when technology can be used to replicate reality, to augment reality, and to create virtual reality.
For example, a medical doctor can use software simulation to gain valuable experience performing a complicated surgical operation without ever putting a human patient at risk.
I'm pretty open about talking about my faith with other people, and I get quite a few curious inquiries.
This friend asked, "What do Mormons think of video games?
But Church leaders have given pretty stark warnings about video games, and many Mormon families are wary of them.
My family, for instance, had a no-video-game policy for our entire childhood, and we would only get to play them at friend's houses where the long arm of parental rules couldn't reach.
I myself made it to adulthood feeling the better for it, and am glad I escaped childhood relatively unscathed.
Funny enough though, this book doesn't purport to be an exercise in video game apologetics.
It doesn't provide a cohesive argument, and even readily admits the dark side of video games.
Tom Bissell gives a disclaimer at the beginning that the book rather seeks to express "one man's opinions and thoughts on what playing games feels like, why he plays them, and the questions they make him think about.
Some of my favorite passages include this explanation of why the best games are the ones that don't try to explain too much: For many gamers and by all evidence, game designersstory is largely a matter of accumulation.
The more explanation there is, the thought appears to go, the more story has to be generated.
This would be a profound misunderstanding of story for any form of narrative art, but it has hobbled the otherwise high creative achievement of any number of games.
Frequently in works with any degree of genre loyalty-- this would include a vast majority of video games-- the more explicit the story becomes, the more silly it suddenly will seem.
Let us call this the Midi-chlorian Error.
The best science fiction is usually densely realistic in quotidian detail but evocatively vague about the bigger questions.
Tolkien is all but ruined for me whenever I make the mistake of perusing the Anglo-Saxon Talmudisms of his various appendices: "Among the Eldar the Alphabet of Daeron did not develop true cursive forms"-- kill me, please now-- "since for writing the Elves adopted the Faenorian letters.
The impulse to explain is the Achilles' heel of all genre work, and the most sophisticated artists within every genre know better than to expose their worlds to the sharp knife of intellection.
Super Mario requires an ability to recognize patterns, considerable hand-eye coordination, and quick reflexes.
Gears requires the ability to think tactically and make subtle judgments based on scant information, a constant awareness of multiple variables ammunition stores, enemy weaknesses as they change throughout the game, and the spatial sensitivity to control one's movement through a space in which the "right" direction is not always apparent.
Anyone who plays modern games such as Gears does not so much learn the rules as develop a kind of intuition for how the game operates.
Often, there is no single way to accomplish a given task; improvisation is rewarded.
Older games, like Super Mario, punish improvisation; You live or die according to their algebra alone.
As someone who attempts to write what is politely known as literary fiction, I am confident in this assertion.
For me, stories break the surface in the form of image or character or situation.
I start with the variables, not the system.
This is intended neither to ennoble my way of working nor denigrate the game designer; it is to acknowledge the very different formal constraints game designers have to struggle with.
While I may wonder if a certain story idea will "work", this would be a differently approached and much, much less subjective question if I were a game designer.
A game that does not work will, literally, not function.
There is, it should be said, another side to the game-designer mind-set: No matter how famous or well known, most designers are happy to talk about how their games failed in certain areas, and they will even explain why.
Not in my life have I encountered a writer with a blood-alcohol content below.
There were some detracting elements, including his pretty foul mouth and a few jabs at religious folk I found in poor taste.
And while I enjoyed quite a bit of the book, the last chapter kind of ruined it.
It's literally a play by play of him doing nothing but playing video games while getting high on weed and cocaine.
Any aesthetic appreciation for the genre of video games kind of left at that point.
Listen to this summary by the author of pretty much why both video games and cocaine are bad for you-- and also a kind of existential crisis: Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude, and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of cocaine is one I loathe and distrust.
For every moment of transcendence there is a moment in the gutter.
For all its emotional violence there are long periods of quiet and calm.
Something bombardingly strange or new is always happening.
You constantly find things, constantly learn things, constantly see things you could not have imagined.
When you are casino crockfords live from it, you long for its dark and narrow energies.
But am I talking about video games or cocaine?.
So what have games given me?
Not surrogate experiences, but actual experiences, many of which are as important to me as any real memories.
Once I wanted games to show me things I could not see in any other medium.
Then I wanted games to tell me a story in a way no other medium can.
Then I wanted games to redeem something absent in myself.
Then I wanted a game experience that points not toward something, but at something.
Playing GTA IV on coke for weeks and then months at a time, I learned that maybe all a game can do is point at the person who is playing it, and maybe this has to be enough.
There is some absolutely beautiful prose here.
Bissell is very gifted, and this book is worth reading whether you like video games or despise them.
If anything, it at least helped me appreciate read more appeal that video games have for some people.
This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Bissell really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Bissell really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is essentially a land mine.
Say the wrong thing or have the wrong opinions and your critics and the trolls will be on you faster than a speeding bullet, and it's possible my opinions here are a case in point.
Certain passages are described perfectly and with such attention to detail I knew exactly what he was talking about.
Bissell's descriptions of Left 4 Dead, for example, were spot on; he flawlessly captured the intensity and the rush of adrenaline when you hear the ominous sound that signals a horde is approaching.
Likewise, his retelling of the opening sequence of Resident Evil 2 strikes as much fear and anxiety as an actual playthrough.
In those limited cases, Bissell is a magician and he deserves three stars.
On the other hand, Bissell had his chance at a soapbox, and this is mine.
You can't claim to be a champion of games or claim to be spearheading the movement to validate games as art by brushing off historic, iconic games that have been universally accepted as some of the best games ever, period.
Bissell likes to praise games that come with great story, but he skims over Ocarina of Time as something that lacks "imagination" and despite being over forty hours long in a complete playthrough, it is "somehow too small.
Anything from racecars to shooters are possible, but Bissell doesn't care for that unless he's racing against police in GTA or shooting zombies.
The latter half of the book is focused on games that really don't have an ending.
Games like Mass Effect and Fry Cry and Grand Theft Auto, although they do have an ending in the script, rarely see players actually reaching any level of completion.
In addition to zombies and monsters, Bissell has a great fondness for games that let him wander around aimlessly to do whatever he wants.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with liking the open world genre of games.
But when he comes out and says "OPEN WORLD GAMES A+++" and then turns around to say "World of Warcraft??
I have no doubt Bissell has played his fair share of games, and in the end this isn't click one star review because in the end this is just an opinion piece, and I can't fault him too much for having an opinion.
I agree with a few of his points, but just the ones where he praises the games he likes.
The times when he only briefly mentions a legendary game and tosses it aside as "not good enough," I can't agree.
Two stars, maybe one.
Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows this is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, af Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows this is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, after all.
It's the reader of exceeding eclecticism that can digest all of his allusions to Epic Games, Nabokov, John le Carre, BraidCutting Crew, and David Foster Wallace a mere iceberg tip.
Every chapter is filled with fascinating interviews with adults who aren't just cynical suits piloting moneygrabbing corporations, but instead a smattering of brilliant and groundbreaking individuals who want to take gaming to an experiential height that we can't yet imagine, finances be damned.
Along these chapters, Bissell recounts the games that morphed him into something other than himself, a feeling to which we might relate.
Perhaps we snap at our girlfriends' temerity of a goodbye kiss during Demon's Souls i.
Mayhaps we ignore our supposedly highbrow pursuits.
Or simply lament the inordinate amount of time we have spent gaming.
Bissell readily admits to 200+hrs playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivionsomething to which I can entirely relate 120+ playing Dragon Age: Origins and ~150 hrs so far with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Are we doing anything worthwhile with these hours?
I would submit that Thomsen only partially gets the point in his critique of the 100+hour game.
The gaming journeys he criticizes in the epics of modern RPGs aren't important to gamers because of what has actually been accomplished breaking boxes, amassing virtual currency, having polygonal polyamory, or drubbing enemies with increasingly cool magic.
It's actually immaterial if the activity is repetitive, irrelevant, or goofy, and boy are some of them goofy.
Gaming matters to me, at least today, because it gives me a buzz.
Demon's Souls gives me literal goosebumps and can cause a literal rage.
The SNES's Final Fantasy III made me weep.
Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City made the capable author Tom Bissell disappear into another world, and be thankful for the opportunity.
If video games don't do anything for you, you most certainly should not be playing.
But as long as they do, you should never stop.
EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is how upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peri This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is how upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peripheral things they do.
Bissell holds the line, and it serves him really well here.
I don't think that the book lives up to the subtitle, why games matter.
The conceit of the title, extra lives, really only comes up in the first essay, though it's a really solid idea-- that these games really do allow us to explore ourselves in a new context.
But in the end, this remains a very personal, if approachable, take on video games.
It's a lot like Doug Wolk's Reading Comics, though I might like this one a little more that might be because I don't have opinions about games the way I do about comics, so I talked back to this book less than I did Wolk's.
But I also felt its inquiries were more sustained and developed a core concern.
I'm still not sure what to make of the final chapter, a kind of throw everything at the wall chapter that introduces Bissell's cocaine use pretty explicitly, in terms I don't know how to process-- it almost makes the book, opening up to us a useful parallel to what Bissell gets out of games v.
But I feel like parts of it are a little too swept under the rug or raced past.
It's good, and I'd read more, without a doubt.
So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", which I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the history of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this bo So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", which I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the history of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this book as an analyst of industry fortunes a topic about which I could not imagine caring less or as a chronicler of how games rose and came to be, and my understanding of the technical side of game design is nil.
In the portions of the book where I address game design and game designers, it is, I hope, to a formally explanatory rather than technically informative end.
In fact, the book almost exclusively focuses on "story" or "narrative" games, a genre which I've never really played much.
To make matters worse, the "Little Big Problems" chapter was really about the uncanny valley, and only mentions Little Big Planet in passing.
At the end, the book takes an odd turn and becomes a confessional about the author's drug use, and leaves me a bit confused about the overall purpose of the book.
Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually have had an engrossing, good time, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - h Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually have had an engrossing, good time, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - he is really much more interested in the question which he explores at some depth and really seems on the fence about.
In any event this is a very well written book, large parts of which are about two places I used to work BioWare and Ubisoft and I definitely recognize them in his prose though he was a little to soft on BioWare's writing.
His style and vocabulary are very engaging, but above all I was drawn to his honesty.
He confesses a lot about himself in this book which lends credibility to his insights and judgements about the games themselves.
As a writer he is mostly interested in narrative in video games and the conflict that has with allowing players to construct their own.
This is the best book about video games I've read.
I didn't come away feeling like he'd made a solid point, but I did feel like he'd explored the problem s well enough to really know what he's talking about.
Extra Lives is essentially an argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are big game extra lives that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a per Extra Lives is essentially an argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are big releases that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a person who plays video games, I feel like he is just preaching to the choir, but I can understand that he may be reaching out to his wider readership, the people who got into him through Chasing the Sea or God Lives in St.
Petersburg or whatever he writes on Grantland, and I think he does a pretty good job of this.
People who like games will probably only be interested in some of the behind the scenes details of how companies like Ubisoft and Bioware work, but for the uninitiated, the details of Bissel's personal experiences with games and the argument that they invoke such personal experiences may make them want to explore the medium more.
Also, I think he implies that he left Ashley in Mass Effect to die in Virmire because she expressed some anti-alien sentiments.
It's really weird how many people I've talked to used this as the key detail in making that decision.
I chose to leave Kaidan because he is just Carth and I don't want to deal with Carth in another Bioware game.
I was generally entertained by this exploration of one player's life in games and what they mean to him.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly as compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly as compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Commodore 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
We have the distinction of being the first generation of humanity to spend The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Commodore 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
What this tidy statistic ignores, however, is how ambivalent most of us are about it.
I suppose what he means is something more like Extra Sighs: Why Video Games Matter to Anxious Thirty-Somethings Who Wrestle with the Suspicion That They're Wasting Their Time.
But there is much that I recognize in Bissell, not just for myself but for the other 35 year olds who still play video games when they can but do it with the sort of furtive and vaguely apologetic solitude generally reserved for masturbation.
Ours is not just the first generation to spend our whole lives with video games as a going concern but also likely the last to think of video games as weird.
With internet dating, we were the ones who suffered through the awkward phase of okcupid and match.
So it is with video games, a hobby in which we invested heavily only to see that investment mature at precisely the moment when we finally became too busy, too gray and too uncool to retain our position as the vanguards of the movement.
The kids will have more fun and play better video games than we did, and will be yet more likely to enjoy them openly and without cultural baggage and play them with their girlfriends!
Each generation is doomed to calcify against the innovations of the ones that follow, and we just happened to fall on the wrong side of the cut-off.
Video games are embarrassing.
Video games are often visually and sonically beautiful, and are almost always triumphs of engineering and design, but they remain stubbornly remedial in most aspects of plot, narrative and message, a crippling deficiency for a medium which seeks above all to ape the basic structures of the cinematic.
Playing video games is fun, but a fun that frequently fails to withstand scrutiny.
And while the often lazy sexism of videogames is their most presently infamous shortcoming, the absence of a capacity for meaningful dialogue and story, even in the best games, is arguably more corrosive.
For gamers of a certain age - which is to say, his age - this book is a marvelous compendium of shared experience.
On that level, this is a gutsy book to write because of its heavy potential for immediate obsolescence.
Every one of the titles I just mentioned has spawned a sequel in the few years since Bissell wrote Extra Lives, and while his observations are often prophetic, much of what he has to say fixates too much on the compelling questions of that particular moment, most of which are already long buried.
His breathless exhumation of the specifics of the invention of the cover system within the first person shooter, for example, is already more a study in how quickly the innovative becomes familiar than an article worth more than purely historical interest.
Bissell writes in three essential modes: The first is an analysis of the narrative incoherence of videogames, and this he does well, repeatedly teasing out the dissonant aspects of the recognized classics without diminishing their importance.
The second operates as a memoir - his life seen through videogames, culminating in a largely self-destructive collision of Grand Theft Auto and cocaine which nearly ended his career as a writer.
The last, and least successful, are his forays into videogame journalism, which are often fan-boyish interviews with personalities already familiar to the gaming community and mostly dulling to everyone else.
In the end, not enough time is actually spent on why video games do matter to take this book out of the category of personal memoir and into something more important.
They're only getting better.
I look forward to watching my kids enjoy them while I do the dishes.
Some cool essays about video games, characterization, and why some are more entertaining than others.
I didn't need the tedious info on gaming design conventions or the author's old cocaine habit.
Didn't answer the "why video games matter" of the title, but if you have even a passing interest in video games you may be interested in the opinions here.
ReedIII Quick Review: Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
Are video games both art and entertainment?
This very personal book never actually answers the questions proposed or promoted in the title.
However the book does give gamers and non-gamers good ways to view games in general and some games specifically.
Tom Bissell born 1974 is a journalist, critic, and fiction writer.
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
We are, in effect, admitting that we like to spend our time shooting monsters, and They are, not unreasonably, failing to find the value in that.
Stories are about time passing and narrative progression.
Games are about challenge, which frustrates the passing of time and impedes narrative progression.
The story force wants to go forward and the "friction force" of challenge tries to hold story back.
This is the conflict at the heart of the narrative game, one that game designers have thus far imperfectly addressed by making story the reward of a successfully met challenge.

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Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell
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Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Extra Lives is an impassioned defense of this assailed and misunderstood art form.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is like no other book on the subject ever published.
Whether you love video games, loathe video games, or are merely curious about why they click becoming the dominant popular art form of our time, Extra Lives is required reading.
The title of this book is Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
Yet, all of these are interesting accounts of his experiences in and impressions of the games while none of them indicate why the games might matter.
He is even more condescending when it comes to game writing predominantly speaking of dialogue and the game press.
There is a theme of the frustrated, would-be game writer that runs through the book.
My favorite quotation in the book is when Bissell describes the evolution of video game graphics.
Are, developmentally speaking, cave paintings, whereas Tempest and Pac-Man are something like modernism, albeit a modernism of necessity.
Within the evolution of video games, no naturalistic stage between the primitivism of Pong and the modernism of Tempest was possible due to the technological limitations to which game designers were subject.
About the center of the book, Bissell admits that video games have improved on almost every level—aesthetic, characterization, dialogue, and emotional appeal—but insists that games started at a degree of minus efficacy pp.
That is why I cannot recommend what could have been an important book.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extr I'm a gamer, plain and simple.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extra Lives attempts to touch upon this question as well as analyze the media's strengths and weaknesses in character design, narrative, etc.
The writing is very analytical and intellectual, giving me flashbacks at times to my days as an English Major, reading through literary journals for paper ideas.
The book does a great job of introducing concepts to readers who have not played alot of games, so anyone interested in the topic can walk away with something, regardless of background knowlegde.
But what I think I was most impressed with is Bissell's ability to help me look at games I have played in a brand new way.
Many of the games he discussed in the book I have played, and he brings up so many fascinating questions that have really changed how I look at some of the experiences.
In the end, I am really glad that I read this book and am glad that books like this are simply out there.
Video games are really the weird kid in the class when it comes to respected medias and it really shouldn't be the case.
Just like there are mindless movies and mindless books, there are, ofcourse, mindless games.
But also just like books and movies and music, there are real things that can be taken away from video games.
Because it's still a relatively new media, this idea really isn't understood by the masses.
But as the gamers of old become adults and the media continues to become more widespread, I think a time will come where a conversation about Animal Farm will be just as respected as a conversation about Bioshock.
And it will come thanks to books that point out the importance of the media, just like Bissell's extra lives.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not that book.
The title is more than a little misleading.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of remarkable, download live game think video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not that book.
The title is more than a little misleading.
More often than not, this hinges on the writing in the games — the subtext of which seems to be that the author believes games would be a whole lot better if the industry employed more people like him.
Bissell gives the impression that he thinks rather highly of himself, and finds many opportunities to remind the reader of his accomplishments, in-game or otherwise.
The result of all of this, unfortunately, is that the book is an infuriating mess.
Bissell is so self-satisfied, his writing so masturbatory, that I found myself actively disliking him not far into the book — and it only gets worse with each subsequent chapter.
Now, I like video games, believe you me — but reading about why he played his Mass Effect character the way he did, or his description of playing Resident Evil for the first time, is painfully boring.
As I alluded to earlier, I really wanted to like this book.
Suggested alternate title: Tom Bissell Presents The Tom Bissell Story In Which Video Games are Played Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
https://agohome.ru/live/wp-content-spinner-nulled.html I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
The Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
But I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
There simply isn't time for everything, and if I want to finish even the meager number of books I need to read for work, something has to go.
Video games were what went.
I was never much of a gamer anyway.
I gravitated towards sports games, for one thing.
I had a long, meaningful relationship with the Indianapolis Colts of Madden 98, which I played on an old Nintendo system I had dug out of my parents' basement.
I'd get home from work late at night, drink a six-pack of domestic beer, and command my team of pixelated men to victory after victory.
These were the nights when I didn't listen to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks over and over again.
There were a few years there where I didn't get laid a lot.
Tom Bissell's Extra Lives sort of makes me want to carve out some time for video games.
Well, it makes me wish I had the time to carve out.
Bissell traces the evolution of games from Resident Evil up through Grand Theft Auto IV, and in the process asks many difficult questions about games and, indeed, art itself.
Can a video game have a story that matches the narrative complexity of a great novel?
Can it go beyond that?
What are the implications of playing a video game in which your character participates in atrocity after atrocity?
The days have arrived when we can talk about video games alongside books and films as great works of narrative art.
This is the first book, to my knowledge, to do so.
I suspect this book would be even more engaging for someone with a passing knowledge of the games he discusses -- Fall Out, Mass Effect, Bio Shock, Far Cry 2, etc.
Bissell's brain is pretty incredible, though, and his sharp, toothy prose fun words Bissell uses include 'sororus' and 'ludonarrative' and perspective was enough to keep this non-gamer turning the pages.
I was enjoying the book until its final chapter, about Grand Theft Auto IV, and Bissell's concurrent decent into cocaine use.
That chapter took the book from a great work click at this page criticism to something more, something higher.
Recommended for anyone with an interest in gaming, narrative, art, or criticism.
I enjoyed reading this book despite the glaring "literariness" of the writing.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
To view it, The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enrich your narrative, adding a personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being kind of annoying.
Unfortunately, Tom Bissell's Most Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the questi The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction dewavegas live online casino and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enrich your narrative, adding a personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being kind of annoying.
Unfortunately, Tom Bissell's Most Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the question asked in the subtitle of this book, "Why video games matter," he instead takes the reader on an occasionally drug-laced trip through why he likes video games.
Along the way he peppers in references to the fact that he's single and can't hold a relationship, he's traveled all over the world, and totally randomly he was addicted to cocaine while he played through Grand Theft Auto IV who knows how many times.
That book could have been good, but this book as it is is trying too hard.
It's part that, and partartsy-fartsy commentary on video games and how they make us er, Tom Bissell think about violence and character and story.
It's the latter that I liked the best despite it occasionally being extremely heavy-handed and smug.
I don't think Far Cry 2 is some kind of amazingly well-crafted love letter to violence and escapism and man's inhumanity to man, and I don't think the people who made the Grand Theft Auto games are making particularly clever statements when they put a coffee cup in the Statue of Liberty's hand or call Metlife Getalife.
I would say it is really very difficult for a game that has dozens of people working on it to come together to create something as artistic as Tom Bissell thinks video games are.
I do love video games.
Video games brought me some fond memories: playing rented games on my dad's Xbox, obsessing over the winding plot of Tales of Symphonia with my then-boyfriend in my college dorm, beating Castlevania: Curse of Darkness with my little brother, and more.
But I don't think that talking about them the way Tom Bissell does is going to advance them in anyone's mind quite yet.
Yes, some people are devoted to games the way they devote themselves to any true artistic measure.
The indie games on the PlayStation Network, WiiWare and XBox Live attest to that.
But I don't think you can put a game churned out by a big company up on a pedestal.
I'll put Mass Effect right up there with all the love Tom gives it.
Even if he played Shepard totally wrong.
Up there I said the trip through this book is "occasionally drug-laced," but I think that's the wrong choice of words.
Drugs are only mentioned in the very last chapter, which is why it seems so random once he starts to wax poetic about cocaine.
He tries to tie his journey through Grand Theft Auto IV to his cocaine addiction, and it just falls flat.
You cannot yet compare a video game to real life.
He just comes across as a total loser in that chapter and it was a really awkward way to end the book.
I'm waiting for a really good book on this topic.
One of the most consistent criticisms I see in other negative reviews of this book is that Tom Bissell's tone is puzzlingly ambivalent.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the only take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the gamer hd live avermedia extreme avermedia live gamer take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
In fact, more than a month after having listened to the audiobook, I don't feel that his argument was very enlightening at all.
If anything, it made me feel rather pessimistic and uninspired about the next generation of games, and I don't think that was the intended aim of the book.
I really wanted to like this book.
I love the idea of discussing how we could improve games and particularly narrative-driven games.
Yet the only sections of the book that I found worthwhile, were the parts that focused on veteran game designers' POVs and not the author's.
His interviews with Cliff Bleszinski Gears of WarJohnathan Blow Braidand Peter Molyneux Fable to name a few were the most informative on the attitudes and trends of the current video game industry towards designing narrative-driven games, and what designing games is like today vs.
Another problem I had with this book had to do with the author's strange tone of voice.
At numerous points of the audiobook I felt as if the author was talking to a predominately male audience.
I found this alienating, as it felt as if I was overhearing his argument from an exclusive group huddle.
Weird seeing as he started out the book targeting an audience of critics who may not have much experience with videogames.
Even weirder seeing as over 40% of the gamer crowd is female.
That's not to say I was free nba odds to read a book that absolutely represented every single gamer that would be a little unrealistic and unfairbut I at least expected to read a book with a bit more of a neutral voice.
Some quotes I actually had to write down or make mental notes of to insert into this review because they struck me as not only awkward, but sometimes offensive in a "too-much-information" way.
Such as Bissell's musing over how he "liked the corporate diligence the upper-tier prostitutes worked the casino bars" in Las Vegas why do I care?
Despite dedicating the book to his two nieces, who he often plays game extra lives with, I found Bissell's tone odd and often disconcerting.
I also found it strange that almost every game he chose to talk about, was a game that was not very story-driven at all, or games that were influential, but not very useful to his argument.
For instance, that he spends almost a quarter of the book talking about Farcry and footnotes Shadow of the Colossus and Metal Gear Solid seemed a very odd choice for his arguments that games can tell meaningful stories and have successful game mechanics as well.
It's true that you can't include everything in a survey of the video games industry for critics, but I felt as if he'd missed out on some opportunities to discuss games like Metal Gear Solid, that work with many different forms of media for game design inspiration.
Perhaps what took up the space he could've used to discuss some of the games he footnoted, was his sudden switch into autobiography at the tail-end of the book, when he details a cocaine addiction that he suffered while playing GTA and how this epitomized what modern games are like.
Not only did I feel as though the rug was pulled from beneath me at this point of the book, I also felt as if this was https://agohome.ru/live/betfair-live-casino.html book you would not want to give someone who was skeptical about games and gamer culture.
I understand Bissell prefaced the book with a statement about how much of the views expressed in the book would be personal, but I felt this last story of his addiction should've been saved for another book that was focusing more on his life being a critic that wrote on games and not for a book where he's trying to prove that games are worth people's time.
I guess the bottom line of this review is, I didn't retain much of my experience of listening to this audiobook.
I feel as though I could have looked up gamasutra articles on the creators interviewed in the book and garnered about the same amount of useful information as I did from reading Extra Lives.
I'm glad more varied books on games are coming out on the market, but I'm disappointed I couldn't have enjoyed this book or learned from it more.
An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important are An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important areas to look at.
The author talks about himself quite oft and in high horse terms.
Then in later segments he'll give out more detail about these claims, and his character falters significantly, and credibility with it.
Such as his time in the peace corps which turns out to be a few weeks till he packs it in because he can't hang with it.
Man, best to either not mention in the first place, or go ahead and let me think you actually made an effort to help the world.
Too, some of his descriptions of games generate questions of "did you even play this title?
Much better portions are snippets from industry pros.
He's got a wide range from industry rebel, Johnathan Blow creator of Braid, to mundane "business something something" at Sony.
Going by what he is able to draw out of these folks, and what to distill unto us the reader, I wager the author is far better suited to interviews than critique.
The book does shine in the very last chapter, however, it's cringingly necessary to have read everything else to get the full weight.
We're talking about several pages supposedly devoted to the analysis of Grand Theft Auto as a series and focusing in on IV.
By far the best analysis in the entire book, but more https://agohome.ru/live/spectate-lol-games-live.html is the odd story the author tells about his drug addictions.
Early in the book he talks about being an unashamed partaker of marijuana, but that's it nothing else!
However, as he cracks open GTA IV he describes his friend cuttin' several lines of coke.
European alley ways for his dealer to hopefully return a dose of the goods in exchange for all those wads of cash handed over.
Unfortunately, the author never really gets into his abuse issues, or directly confronts why his personality is flawed, weak, and he needs to do this tho he does hint heavily.
And this could have made for a far more interesting read.
But after finishing this final chapter the reader realizes the book was not so much about games, but the author's attempt to do some therapeutic talking to.
Many of his pompous personal claims are later pulled down, his strict drug policies are found to be anything but, he has security issues needing workt thru, but never brings himself to such; always skirting that bush, but breaking off several branches during the circlings.
A book less about games, and more about personal demons.
Fails at both, but encourage a re-write focusing on the latter.
Epilogue: Jacket design by Chip Kidd, basically the "it" man for 90's book designs.
His work here is shamelessy careless to the point of insult, and herein I agree.
The utter lack of care by such a talent speaks volume to the quality of the content, and seen in such light.
It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video gaming habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video games.
For example, the blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Evil might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has pl It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video gaming habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video games.
For example, the blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Evil might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has played that game and especially that section of that game more times than he cares to admit, I found that there were very few actual insights in this chapter.
I recently listened to an interview with the author on the Brainy Gamer podcast.
The pre-defined audience of this podcast allowed him to go into a lot of detail regarding his thoughts on the relationship between cocaine and GTA IV, and I was left wondering why he couldn't have included these thoughts in the actual book he was promoting?
It would have made the book a lot more enjoyable.
In the end, I feel as if the author failed to show us 'why video games matter', but rather told us why video games matter to him - and even then only weakly.
For a more engaging and coherent argument on why video games matter, check out.
I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into that scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat rooms and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games tha I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into that scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat rooms and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games that I have for books.
So there's this whole evolution of gaming that sort of passed me by, and curiosity about what exactly was going on in those games kind of drew me to this book and I wasn't disappointed.
The author talks about all the different console games he has obsessed over and spent huge chunks of his life on, and in doing so brings about a very fascinating discussion of the elements of those games and what works and doesn't work.
I really enjoyed the whole analysis of "story" and why it is so difficult to incorporate it well into a game, and which games attempt it and fail and which games have broken new ground in that area.
He talks about the killing and the violence in a very matter-of-fact way which I guess if you've spent days and months killing people in-game you can get pretty matter-of-fact about it.
He pretty much bypasses discussing the Mario's and Donkey Kong games because click to see more are mostly memorization; he discusses titles like Grand Theft Auto, and Left 4 Dead, and other various first person shooter games where you play a character that is more than an entity that hits bricks with their heads to get coins.
There's a lot of discussion about "agency"; the ability of the player to choose what happens next in a storyline as opposed to just "playing through the level" or from the beginning of the story to the end.
I wish I didn't have to read the last part, about where he loses himself inside cocaine addiction for awhile.
But in the end it totally makes sense because he admits that gaming, to him, was like cocaine and became inextricably tied up with cocaine, so that now when he replays the games they feel flat and lifeless because he isn't high.
The author also talks about his connections to certain game characters, especially Niko in Grand Theft Auto, and that to me was the most fascinating part of the book.
He connected less with the heroic, world-saving characters than he did with Niko, a misfit out-of-his-element guy trying to get a leg up and mostly not doing it very well.
After all, we can't imagine ourselves saving the world every day, but we sure can relate to making mistakes and haplessly stumbling through life.
This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
He talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about that you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
It was really refreshing to hear someone appreciate the world of games, the place they take you.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
He talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about that you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
It was really refreshing to hear someone appreciate the world of games, the place they take you.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets a little repetitive; describing every game 'beautiful and amazing'.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time waxing obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a sizable chunk of t "Extra Lives: Why Video Games Suck" At least, that's what this book should be called.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time waxing obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a sizable chunk of the book has nothing to do with why they matter.
Bissell constantly wanders off on self-indulgent treks through his own experiences playing games, including a painfully narcissistic retelling of heroically saving his teammates at the last possible moment in a round of Left 4 Dead.
These tales of gaming add nothing to his supposed "claim" that video games matter; they only recount learn more here that anyone who's played the game would recognize, while allowing himself to praise his own decisions and "analyze" them by comparing them to other games he's played.
He also includes, at the beginning of the second chapter, a massive retelling of the first few minutes of the original Resident Evil.
On my e-book copy, this retelling took up 23 of the chapter's 36 pages, with the rest mainly devoted to mocking its terrible dialogue.
Content aside, this book was painful to get through.
The author's prose reeks of a thesaurus, and includes such gems as: "I have already quoted some of the game's dialogue, which at its least weird sounds as though it has been translated out of Japanese, into Swahili, back into Japanese, into the language of the Lunar Federation, back into Japanese, and finally into English.
He also compares Silent Hill's poor voice acting to "autistic miscalculation" in choosing which words to stress in a sentence.
I could go on, but these two examples alone should make my point.
Finally, Bissell does a disservice to the medium as a whole by focusing on only two genres of games, one in particular: shooters are clearly his favorite, while platformers limp into second place with a single devoted chapter.
Resident Evil, Fallout, Grand Theft Auto, Far Cry, and Mass Effect each have a chapter to themselves, with Left 4 Dead taking a sizable chunk of a supposedly multi-game chapter.
Braid is the only non-shooter game to be given significant attention.
A single chapter is devoted to an interview with Braid's creator, Jonathan Blow, but focuses more on his views of the gaming industry as a whole than the game itself.
Another chapter is named Littlebigproblems, a clear play on the game LittleBigPlanet, but that game is only mentioned at the end of the chapter when Bissell laments how many awards it won.
By focusing so singularly on shooters, he excludes the vast majority of the medium, ignoring or only briefly mentioning such genres as puzzle, RPG, strategy, simulation, MMO, adventure, fighting, stealth, music, and casual games.
Many of his complaints, especially about supposedly lacking storytelling, figure differently into each genre, and it makes it seem like Bissell cherry-picked the specific games he examined to support his chief complaints.
Overall, this book was terrible.
I expected a look at why video games matter.
I received an essay on why video games are an artless, time-wasting medium, according to a man who sings nothing but weak complaints and his own praises.
I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book w I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book was 'Why Video Games Matter,' one critic had stated that the book more accurately described why video games matter to the author.
In fact, there are a number of reasons that video games are really important.
The author alludes to some of them.
Video games, especially first-person shooter games, are very popular among members of the military.
The video game industry is huge, rivaling other media, like movies.
Video games can be used to simulate a lot of different scenarios.
Video games are incredibly violent and encourage people to be violent or don't, I don't know.
So analyze those reasons.
Why are video games popular among the military or how do video games help members of the military develop needed skills?
Or how do video games prevent members of the military from developing needed skills, if that's the case.
What we get instead is a retelling of some of the author's favorite game playing moments.
At times, we get a somewhat self-righteous account of why the author decided not to make a particular video game character take unnecessary violent actions since that would have violated the vision of the game developers.
Ultimately, instead of getting an explanation of why video games matter, I think we get a portrait of a life in which too much time was spent wasted playing video games and taking drugs, with one habit seeming to fuel the other.
The author seems to have been frequently more concerned with whether his female video game characters would consummate their relationships than whether he would consummate his own.
By the end, I was a bit depressed and actually felt like I disliked the author.
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's experience playing first person shooter style games that I don't play.
Where is the universality?
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's experience playing first person shooter style games that I don't play.
Where is the universality?
And where is any shred of an argument supporting the stated importance of video games?
The essays are super disjointed, as a result, there is zero flow in the book.
The chapters don't seem to have any relationship to one another except that they are all about video games.
And for an avid gaming enthusiast Bissell has a surprisingly uncomfortable relationship to his geekery.
But it was the blatant misogyny that ultimately cemented my dislike for Bissell.
In one particularly gross example he wanders into a video game developing company and confronts attractive women milling around.
He then wonders if the company has "expanded to include an escort service or modeling agency or both.
Oh and he also compares Vegas to a spent whore: "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
A lot of readers felt alienated by the chapter on Bissell's cocaine addiction.
I actually felt like it was one of the few times in the book where Bissell is in touch with his humanity and has something interesting to say.
To review Tom Bissell's latest work, it seems one must start off with a little personal background, so as not to be dismissed out-of-hand as an outsider.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
I personally have never gotten too excited about first-person shooters, but I do love a good story woven into my game.
At the outset of Extra Lives, it was apparent that the differences in my personal taste in games would not matter and that Bissell's own skill with narrative could transcend the fact that we will likely never cross paths in an online game forum.
The first few chapters of the work were excellently written: though I have never played Fallout 3 or Resident Evil, and have only fleeting acquaintance with Left for Dead, I was still transported and engaged.
I shared Bissell's frustration with the often teeth-grindingly-terrible dialog in games and was breathlessly beside him as he tiptoed his way past hordes of zombie minions in Left for Dead.
I found myself openly laughing at Bissell's wit and excited about his apparent insights into gaming.
Even while discussing fairly specific experiences, Bissell was speaking to the heart of gaming in general.
Bissell has clearly thought deeply about gaming; how it could be improved and how impactful it already is on even the casual gamer.
He repeatedly discusses his ideas on how gaming should be improved and how it can be elevated as an art form.
He makes the argument that games, rather uniquely as an art form, can achieve a level of interactivity that places the gamer in situations they would never encounter in life.
With such a strong base, I was hooked and excited to hear what Bissell had to say on this matter.
Unfortunately, as I progressed past the first third of the book, it seemed as though Bissell lost his way.
A good portion of the middle section of this book seemed more appropriate for a magazine game review and was just plain frustrating to anyone who has not specifically played the game in question.
I soldiered on anyway, kept from total madness by the occasional interviews that Bissell had with various game designers — all of which were excellent and revealing.
Armed with more information than I cared to know on the realistic pleas for mercy programmed into the computer characters within Far Cry 2, I approached the final chapter — wherein Bissell discusses his addiction to cocaine and we are assured completely unrelated addition to Grand Theft Auto IV.
All of the formidable powers of insight that Bissell displays in dissecting the minute flaws of story or gameplay vanish when he turns his gaze upon his own life.
The central problem of this book became apparent to me only once it was finished: Tom Bissell is far too personally involved with the games and gamer culture that he is reporting upon.
In his book Bissell approaches the edge of the most important and interesting questions facing the gaming industry and any self-aware gamer.
Having brought the reader to this vantage point, Bissell merely dances distractingly in place for hundreds of pages.
I agree with Bissell that it would be great to elevate the art of game design — making games more insightful, impactful and involving.
But the next obvious discussion following this is one of content.
Yet what does it mean that when Bissell and many other here are free to pursue these impulses, they are mostly destructive?
Why, among the dozens of blockbuster games that Bissell highlighted, were almost all of them exceptionally violent?
In a discussion of the meaning of games, why was there only fleeting reference to scientific studies suggesting games impact the user in significant ways?
Yet, in the very next chapter, Bissell gleefully recounts his in-game actions upon the citizens programmed in Grand Theft Auto IV; namely, finding thousands of clever and gruesome ways to massacre them.
I think many serious gamers myself included are conflicted in a similar manner; amazed at the power and imagination of games — yet a little frightened of the emotional sway those games can hold over them.
But surely in a book about the meaningfulness of games, a discussion on the broader impact of game content on their users is relevant?
Bissell is clearly an intelligent and usually insightful guy.
He speaks of what a powerful force gaming can be, what an influential force it has been in his life, then speaks of how he dreams of a future where such games are even more inspiring and engrossing.
Given his significant personal experience wrestling with the darker side of games in his life, the absence of any substantial discussion on the ethics surrounding game design is particularly glaring.
Unfortunately, game extra lives cowardly lets himself, and the entire gaming industry, off very lightly in this book.
Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew was getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Circuit, and all of the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed t Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew was getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Circuit, and all of the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed to have—just like Reader Rabbit was the first, and for a long time the only, computer game permitted me.
Which is not to say I was omg horribly deprived or anything.
Just: I never developed an interest in video games, and I still don't have one—the only modern game I think I've played is Rock Band, and when I play that at parties I always try to position myself as the singer because I lack the hand-eye coordination to succeed at any of the instruments.
That's the price of a childhood without video games, right there.
Nevertheless, I was enthralled by Bissell's treatise on their cultural importance.
Like an extended version of 's fabulous essay on Saved By the Bell which I also wasn't allowed to watch—no cartoons, either fromBissell combines examples of what video games have meant to him with an exploration of what larger significance they have or might one day hope to achieve.
I may have even been at an advantage, having no idea what Bissell was talking about: I've seen some other reviewers complain that, for example, the long section where he takes the reader step-by-step, moment-by-moment through the opening of the first Resident Evil game is too much of a rehash if you've played it.
I haven't, and therefore I found it fascinating to experience this paradigm-shifting game along with Bissell's younger self.
Do I really need more ways to waste time?
I have the internet, thanks.
I know this sounds like circular logic, but: the stuff that matters matters.
I can has my sociology degree nao?
My copy came in at the library the same day I got the new Arcade Fire album, The Suburbs, and the two go beautifully together, both evoking this sense of isolation among sprawl and summoning up images of post-apocalyptic landscapes.
A theme in many video games—maybe I am missing out?
I haven't had two disparate works work so well together since the Christmas I was given both 's and Sarah McLachlan's Touch.
Ginger Series authors give us an entry into a world they enjoy, even adore, through sharing the story of their own romantic relationship with it.
Bissell takes this autobiographical approach much further.
His book criss-crosses between reportage, travelogue, love letter, and excoriating self confession, especially when it comes to his several years spent not writing he was the author of several books of fiction and a regular columnist for a number of magazinesplaying games in marathon-like sessions, and throwing cocaine up his nose: Soon I was sleeping in my clothes.
Soon my hair was stiff and fragrantly unclean.
Soon I was doing lines before my Estonian class, staying up for days, curating prodigious nose bleeds and spontaneously vomiting from exhaustion.
Soon my pillowcases bore rusty coins of nasal drippage.
Soon the only thing I could smell was something like the inside of an empty bottle of prescription medicine.
Soon my biweekly phone call to my cocaine dealer was a weekly phone call.
Soon I was walking into the night, handing hundreds of dollars in cash to a Russian man whose name I did not even know, waiting in alleys for him to come back — which he always did, though I never fully expected him to — and retreating home, to my Xbox, to GTA IV, to the electrifying solitude of my mind at play in an anarchic digital world.
Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of cocaine is one I loathe.
I do know that video games have enriched my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
They have also done damage to my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
I let this happen, of course; I even helped the process along.
As for cocaine, it has been a long time since I last did it, but not as long as I would like.
Bissell seems more performance and personality focused his interviews with figures in the game design world are a strength of the book that prevent it from becoming me-me-me-ishBarr somewhat more philosophical and reflective.
For Bissell, the writer, this concern is storytelling, and how video games are still weighted towards game play rather than narrative: This is one of the most suspect things about the game form.
However, he continues, in that essay he was trying to talk about the intelligence that distinguishes art works from everything else.
Intelligence, he says, can be expressed in all sorts of way; morally, formally, technically, stylistically, thematically, emotionally.
Masterpieces - the things we identify as wiping the table with their intelligence - are comprehensively intelligent; intelligent in all sorts of ways.
And they are generally the result of one unified vision, one single game.
Bissell is unsure: A noisy group of video-game critics and theoreticians laments the rise of story in games.
Tetris would be the best example of this sort of game.
My suspicion is that this lament comes less from frustration with story qua story than it does from the narrative butterfingers on outstanding display in the vast majority of contemporary video games.
I share that frustration.
I also love being the agent of chaos in the video game world.
What I want from games - a control as certain and seamless as the means by which I am being controlled - may be impossible, and I am back to where I began.
Bissell also observes that video games are different from other art forms in one very exact way: the player is just that - not a viewer or reader, but an active, decision-making participant.
His special interest - as a gamer, an academic, and increasingly the game creator - it is playing against the grain, exploring what the world offers, how far you can probe it.
What happens if you walk away from your mission and instead decide to drive your car into a lake or watch a rabbit hop around your horse?
Drive for a while, and listen to a jazz station on the radio as you search for something new to do.
You carefully drive the lage garbage truck down leafy pathways, swerving to avoid pedestrians.
Looking for an amusing diversion, you drive into a lake and somehow manage to keep going with half the vehicle submerged.
The music becomes muted by the water, lending a muffled soundtrack to the already strange scene.
You drive like this for a while, tooting the horn at people walking next to the water.
They stop and star at the incongruous sight of a garbage truck driving in a lake in Central Park.
The idea that we can decide how we feel like relating to a video game is important, even revolutionary.
It means we are playing the game, not the other way around.
Playing a game can be seen as a kind of conversation with its designer.
Their answer comes in the way the game responds to your actions.
This was the point that really fired my imagination in the two books - and brought me circling back to the frustration Bissell feels.
The one exception might be the kinds of game that Barr clearly loves: simulations like The Sims, and the collaborative world-building game MInecraft.
It is the potential for collaborative play that really seems to thrill him: A big part of the excitement of playing a game with someone else is sharing a world with them.
Often this means teaming up to engage in mortal combat against others.
In Left 4 Dead, a zombie-based game, four players join forces to try and survive in various zombie-infested locations.
While battling zombies is entertaining on its own, having a friend rush to your side to dislodge a zombie and then give you medical aid can really get the adrenaline pumping … … There are few gaming experiences more immediately stunning than seeing another person run past you in the same virtual world.
The realisation that various moving figures around you are, in reality, all people who are playing the same game, following the same rules, and sharing many of the same objectives as you is a paradigm shift.
With more space and a different remit, but to the same conclusion, Bissell also discusses Left 4 Dead.
For what more can one ask?
What more could one want?
I want to bring in a quote now from a recent post on.
In this post, Barr comes back to this point he and Bissell have been circling, this magical opportunity.
Perhaps one of the challenges for tragedy in video games is to jettison the notion that the player should always be the explicit author of their circumstances but instead as merely one part in a larger world which is not always impressed or even affected by their actions.
But both have opened my eyes, not just to the rich, deep, wide, silly, expensive, violent, harrowing and pluripotent world of video games, https://agohome.ru/live/md-live-casino-karaoke.html also to the conversations that go on within it.
I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into c I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into console games, but I did have a 5+ year addiction to the MMORPG Runescape-- and while I look on those lost years very fondly, I don't consider them to be of any inherent value.
There are two main reasons my I personally don't think video games can justify their existence.
First is that they are an addictive time sink, with the corollary that the lost time takes away from not only more productive hobbies, but also things necessary for existence like an income to provide for yourself and healthy relationships.
The second is that many OK, not all, but quite a darn few including the entire genre of FPS games video games are extremely violent, and they treat violence very casually.
Just reading paragraph after paragraph in this book shows you how casually murder is treated in these things, and the author admitting multiple times play games online live, well, you just kind of don't feel anything: At one point in Far Cry 2, I was running along the savanna when I was spotted by two militiamen.
I turned and shot, and, I thought, killed them both.
When I waded into the waist-deep grass to pick up their ammo, it transpired that one of the men was still alive.
He proceed to plug me with his sidearm.
Frantic, and low on health, I looked around, trying to find the groaning, dying man, but the grass was too dense.
I sprinted away, only to be hit by a few more of his potshots.
When I had put enough distance between us, I lobbed a Molotov cocktail into the general area where the supine, dying man lay.
click seconds, I could hear him screaming amid the twiggly crackly of the grass catching fire.
Sitting before my television, I felt a kind of horridly unreciprocated intimacy with the man I had just burned to death.
If the video game references were taken out of this passage and you didn't know the context, this would be horrible.
But because it's a video game.
It's just flashes of pixelated light.
A third critique of video games that I thought of while reading the book was given in an article by Mormon apostle David A.
Bednar that I find philosophically interesting, even if it isn't the first reason that might come to your mind.
My heart aches when a young couple—sealed together in the house of the Lord for time and for all eternity by the power of the holy priesthood—experiences marital difficulties because of the addicting effect of excessive video gaming or online socializing.
A young man or woman may waste countless hours, postpone or forfeit vocational or academic achievement, and ultimately sacrifice cherished human relationships because of mind- and spirit-numbing video and online games.
Are you suggesting that video gaming and various types of computer-mediated communication can play a role in minimizing the importance of our physical bodies?
We live at a time when technology can be used to replicate reality, to augment reality, and to create virtual reality.
For example, a medical doctor can use software simulation to gain valuable experience performing a complicated surgical operation without ever putting a human patient at risk.
I'm pretty open about talking about my faith with other people, and I get quite a few curious inquiries.
This friend asked, "What do Mormons think of video games?
But Church leaders have given pretty stark warnings about video games, and many Mormon families are wary of them.
My family, for instance, had a no-video-game policy for our entire childhood, and we would only get to play them at friend's houses where the long arm of parental rules couldn't reach.
I myself made it to adulthood feeling the better for it, and am glad I escaped childhood relatively unscathed.
Funny enough though, this book doesn't purport to be an exercise in video game apologetics.
It doesn't provide a cohesive argument, and even readily admits the dark side of video games.
Tom Bissell gives a disclaimer at the beginning that the book rather seeks to express "one man's opinions and thoughts on what playing games feels like, why he plays them, and the questions they make him think about.
Some of my favorite passages casinos london this explanation of why the best games are the ones that don't try to explain too much: For many gamers and by all evidence, game designersstory is largely a matter of accumulation.
The more explanation there is, the thought appears to go, the more story has to be generated.
This would be a profound misunderstanding of story for any form of narrative art, but it has hobbled the otherwise high creative achievement of any number of games.
Frequently in works with any degree of genre loyalty-- this would include a vast majority of video games-- the more explicit the story becomes, the more silly it suddenly will seem.
Let us call this the Midi-chlorian Error.
The best science fiction is usually densely realistic in quotidian live dealer casino asia but evocatively vague about the bigger questions.
Tolkien is all but ruined for me whenever I make the mistake of perusing the Anglo-Saxon Talmudisms of his various appendices: "Among the Eldar the Alphabet of Daeron did not develop true cursive forms"-- kill me, please now-- "since for writing the Elves adopted the Faenorian letters.
The impulse to explain is the Achilles' heel of all genre work, and the most sophisticated artists within every genre know better than to expose their worlds to the sharp knife of intellection.
Super Mario requires an ability to recognize patterns, considerable hand-eye coordination, and quick reflexes.
Gears requires the ability to think tactically and make subtle judgments based on scant information, a constant awareness of multiple variables ammunition stores, enemy weaknesses as they change throughout the game, and the spatial sensitivity to control one's movement through a space in which the "right" direction is not always apparent.
Anyone who plays modern games such as Gears does not so much learn the rules as develop a kind of intuition for how the game operates.
Often, there is no single way to accomplish a given task; improvisation is rewarded.
Older games, like Super Mario, punish improvisation; You live or die according to their algebra alone.
As someone who attempts to write what is politely known as literary fiction, I am confident in this assertion.
For me, stories break the surface in the form of image or character or situation.
I start with the variables, not the system.
This is intended neither to ennoble my way of working nor denigrate the game designer; it is to acknowledge the very different formal constraints game designers have to struggle with.
While I may wonder if a certain story idea will "work", this would be a differently approached and much, much less subjective question if I were a game designer.
A game that does not work will, literally, not function.
There is, it should be said, another side to the game-designer mind-set: No matter how famous or well known, most designers are happy to talk about how their games failed in certain areas, and they will even explain why.
Not in my life have I encountered a writer with a blood-alcohol content below.
There were some detracting elements, including his pretty foul mouth and a few jabs at religious folk I found in poor taste.
And while I enjoyed quite a bit of the book, the last chapter kind of ruined it.
It's literally a play by play of him doing nothing but playing video games while getting high on weed and cocaine.
Any aesthetic appreciation for the genre of video games kind of left at that point.
Listen to this summary by the author of pretty much why both video games and cocaine are bad for you-- and also a kind of existential crisis: Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude, and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of cocaine is one I loathe and distrust.
For every moment of transcendence there is a moment in the gutter.
For all its emotional violence there are long periods of quiet and calm.
Something bombardingly strange or new is always happening.
You constantly find things, constantly learn things, constantly see things you could not have imagined.
When you are away from it, you long for its dark and narrow energies.
But am I talking about video games or cocaine?.
So what have games given me?
Not surrogate experiences, but actual experiences, many of which are as important to me as any real memories.
Once I wanted games to show me things I could not see in any other medium.
Then I wanted games to tell me a story in a way no other medium can.
Then I wanted games to redeem something absent in myself.
Then I wanted a game experience that points not toward something, but at something.
Playing GTA IV on coke for weeks and then months at a time, I learned that maybe all a game can do is point at the person who is playing it, and maybe this has to be enough.
There is some absolutely beautiful prose here.
Bissell is very gifted, and this book is worth reading whether you like video games or despise them.
If anything, it at least helped me appreciate the appeal that video games have for some people.
This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Bissell really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Click here really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is essentially a land mine.
Say the wrong thing or have game extra lives wrong opinions and your critics and the read more will be on you faster than a speeding bullet, and it's possible my opinions here are a case in point.
Certain passages are described perfectly and with such attention to detail I knew exactly what he was talking about.
Bissell's descriptions of Left 4 Dead, for example, were spot on; he flawlessly captured the intensity and the rush of adrenaline when you hear the ominous sound that signals a horde is approaching.
Likewise, his retelling of the opening sequence of Resident Evil 2 strikes as much fear and anxiety as an actual playthrough.
In those limited cases, Bissell is a magician and he deserves three stars.
On the other hand, Bissell had his chance at a soapbox, and this is mine.
You can't claim to be a champion of games or claim to be spearheading the movement to validate games as art by brushing off historic, iconic games that have been universally accepted as some of the best games ever, period.
Bissell likes to praise games that come with great story, but he skims over Ocarina of Time as something that lacks "imagination" and despite being over forty hours long in a complete playthrough, it is "somehow too small.
Anything from racecars to shooters are possible, but Bissell doesn't care for that unless he's racing against police in GTA or shooting zombies.
The latter half of the book is focused on games that really don't have an ending.
Games like Mass Effect and Fry Cry and Grand Theft Auto, although they do have an ending in the script, this web page see players actually reaching any level of completion.
In addition to zombies and monsters, Bissell has a great fondness for games that let him wander around aimlessly to do whatever he wants.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with liking the open world genre of games.
But when he comes out and says "OPEN WORLD GAMES A+++" and then turns around to say "World of Warcraft??
I have no doubt Bissell has played his fair share of games, and in the end this isn't a one star review because in the end this is just an opinion piece, and I can't fault him too much for having an opinion.
I agree with a few of his points, but just the ones where he praises the games he likes.
The times when he only briefly mentions a legendary game and tosses it aside as "not good enough," I can't agree.
Two stars, maybe one.
Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows this is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, please click for source history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, af Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows this is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, after all.
It's the reader of exceeding eclecticism that can digest all of his allusions to Epic Games, Nabokov, John le Carre, BraidCutting Crew, and David Foster Wallace a mere iceberg tip.
Every chapter is filled with fascinating interviews with adults who aren't just cynical suits piloting moneygrabbing corporations, but instead a smattering of brilliant and groundbreaking individuals who want to take gaming to an experiential height that we can't yet imagine, finances be damned.
Along these chapters, Bissell recounts the games that morphed him into something other than himself, a feeling to which we might relate.
Perhaps we snap at our girlfriends' temerity of a goodbye kiss during Demon's Souls i.
Mayhaps we ignore our supposedly highbrow pursuits.
Or simply lament the inordinate amount of time we have spent gaming.
Bissell readily admits to 200+hrs playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivionsomething to which I can entirely relate 120+ playing Dragon Age: Origins and ~150 hrs so far with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Are we doing anything worthwhile with these hours?
I would submit that Thomsen only partially gets the point in his critique of the 100+hour game.
The gaming journeys he criticizes in the epics of modern RPGs aren't important to gamers because of what has actually been accomplished breaking boxes, amassing virtual currency, having polygonal polyamory, or drubbing enemies with increasingly cool magic.
It's actually immaterial if the activity is repetitive, irrelevant, or goofy, and boy are some of them goofy.
Gaming matters to me, at least today, because it gives me a buzz.
Demon's Souls gives me literal goosebumps and can cause a literal rage.
The SNES's Final Fantasy III made me weep.
Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City made the capable author Tom Bissell disappear into another world, and be thankful for the opportunity.
If video games don't do anything for you, you most certainly should not be playing.
But as long as they do, you should never stop.
EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is how upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peri This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is how upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peripheral things they do.
Bissell holds the line, and it serves him really well here.
I don't think that the book lives up to the subtitle, why games matter.
The conceit of the title, extra lives, really only comes up in the first essay, though it's a really solid idea-- that these games really do allow us to explore ourselves in a new context.
But in the end, this remains a very personal, if approachable, take on video games.
It's a lot like Doug Wolk's Reading Comics, though I might like this one a little more that might be because I don't have opinions about games the way I do about comics, so I talked back to this book less than I did Wolk's.
But I also felt its inquiries were more sustained and developed a core concern.
I'm still not sure what to make of the final chapter, a kind of throw everything at the wall chapter that introduces Bissell's cocaine use pretty explicitly, in terms I don't know how to process-- it almost makes the book, opening up to us a useful parallel to what Bissell gets out of games v.
But I feel like parts of it are a little too swept under the rug or raced past.
It's good, and I'd read more, without a doubt.
So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", which I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the article source of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this bo So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", which I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the history of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this book as an analyst of industry fortunes a topic about which I could not imagine caring less or as a chronicler of how games rose and came to be, and my understanding of the technical side of game design is nil.
In the portions of the book where I address game design and game designers, it is, I hope, to a formally explanatory rather than technically informative end.
In fact, the book almost exclusively focuses on "story" or "narrative" games, a genre which I've never really played much.
To make matters worse, the "Little Big Problems" chapter was really about the uncanny valley, and only mentions Little Big Planet in passing.
At the end, the book takes an odd turn and becomes a confessional about the author's drug use, and leaves me a bit confused about the overall purpose of the book.
Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually have had an engrossing, good time, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - h Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually https://agohome.ru/live/online-live-casino-malaysia.html had an engrossing, good time, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - he is really much more interested in the question which he explores at some depth and really seems on the fence about.
In any event this is a very well written book, large parts of which are about two places I used to work BioWare and Ubisoft and I definitely recognize them in his prose though he was a little to soft on BioWare's writing.
His style and vocabulary are very engaging, but above all I was drawn to his honesty.
He confesses a lot about himself in this book which lends credibility to his insights and judgements about the games themselves.
As a writer he is mostly interested in narrative in video games and the conflict that has with allowing players to construct their own.
This is the best book about video games I've read.
I didn't come away feeling like he'd made a solid point, but I did feel like he'd explored the problem s well enough to really know what he's talking about.
Extra Lives is essentially an argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are big releases that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a per Extra Lives is essentially miami heat game 6 live radio argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are big releases that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a person who plays video games, I feel like he is just preaching to the choir, but I can understand that he may be reaching out to his wider readership, the people who got into him through Chasing the Sea or God Lives in St.
Petersburg or whatever he writes on Grantland, and I think he does a pretty good job of this.
People who like games will probably only be interested in some of the behind the scenes details of how companies like Ubisoft and Bioware work, but for the uninitiated, the details of Bissel's personal experiences with games and the argument that they invoke such personal experiences may make them want to explore the medium more.
Also, I think he implies that he left Ashley in Mass Effect to die in Virmire because she expressed some anti-alien sentiments.
It's really weird how many people I've talked to used this as the key detail in making that decision.
I chose to leave Kaidan because he is just Carth and I don't want to deal with Carth in another Bioware game.
I was generally entertained by this exploration of one player's life in games and what they mean to him.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly as compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly as compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Commodore 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
We have the distinction of being the first generation of humanity to spend The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Commodore 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
What this tidy statistic ignores, however, is how ambivalent most of us are about it.
I suppose this is what Tom Bissell is getting at with his please click for source mislabelled Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
I suppose what he means is something more like Extra Sighs: Why Video Games Matter to Anxious Thirty-Somethings Who Wrestle with the Suspicion That They're Wasting Their Time.
But there is much that I recognize in Bissell, not just for myself but for the other 35 year olds who still play video games when they can but do it with the sort of furtive and vaguely apologetic solitude generally reserved for masturbation.
Ours is not just the first generation to spend our whole lives with video games as a going concern but also likely the last to think of video games as weird.
With internet dating, we were the ones who suffered through the awkward phase of okcupid and match.
So it is with video games, a hobby in which we invested heavily only to see that investment mature at precisely the moment when we finally became too busy, too gray and too uncool to retain our position as the vanguards of the movement.
The kids will have more fun and play better video games than we did, and will be yet more likely to enjoy them openly and without cultural baggage and play them with their girlfriends!
Each generation is doomed to calcify against the innovations of the ones that follow, and we just happened to fall on the wrong side of the cut-off.
Video games are embarrassing.
Video games are often visually and sonically beautiful, and are almost always triumphs of engineering and design, but they remain stubbornly remedial in most aspects of plot, narrative and message, a crippling deficiency for a medium which seeks above all to ape the basic structures of the cinematic.
Playing video games is fun, but a fun that frequently fails to withstand scrutiny.
And while the often lazy sexism of videogames is their most presently infamous shortcoming, the absence of a capacity for meaningful dialogue and story, even in the best games, is arguably more corrosive.
For gamers of a certain age - which is to say, his age - this book is a marvelous compendium of shared experience.
On that level, this is a gutsy book to write because of its heavy potential for immediate obsolescence.
Every one of the titles I just mentioned has spawned a sequel in the few years since Bissell wrote Extra Lives, and while his observations are often prophetic, much of what he has to say fixates too much on the compelling questions of that particular moment, most of which are already long buried.
His breathless exhumation of the specifics of the invention of the cover system within the first person shooter, for example, is already more a study in how quickly the innovative becomes familiar than an article worth more than purely historical interest.
Bissell writes in three essential modes: The first is an analysis of the narrative incoherence of videogames, and this he does well, repeatedly teasing out the dissonant aspects of the recognized classics without diminishing their importance.
The second operates as a memoir - his life seen through videogames, culminating in a largely self-destructive collision of Grand Theft Auto and cocaine which nearly ended his career as a writer.
The last, and least successful, are his forays into videogame journalism, which are often fan-boyish interviews with personalities already familiar to the gaming community and mostly dulling to everyone else.
In the end, not enough time is actually spent on why video games do matter to take this book learn more here of the category of personal memoir and into something more important.
They're only getting better.
I look forward to watching my kids enjoy them while I do the dishes.
Some cool essays about video games, characterization, and why some are more entertaining than others.
I didn't need the tedious info on gaming design conventions or the author's old cocaine habit.
Didn't answer the "why video games matter" of the title, but if you have even a passing interest in video games you may be interested in the opinions here.
ReedIII Quick Review: Extra Lives: Why Video Game extra lives Matter.
Are video games both art and entertainment?
This very personal book never actually answers the questions proposed or promoted in the title.
However the book does give gamers and non-gamers good ways to view games in general and some games specifically.
Tom Bissell born 1974 is a journalist, critic, and fiction writer.
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
We are, in effect, admitting that we like to spend our time shooting monsters, and They are, not unreasonably, failing to find the value in that.
Stories are about time passing and narrative progression.
Games are about challenge, which frustrates the passing of time and impedes narrative progression.
The story force wants to go forward and the "friction force" of challenge tries to hold story back.
This is the conflict at the heart of the narrative game, one that game designers have thus far imperfectly addressed by making story the reward of a successfully met challenge.

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Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Extra Lives is an impassioned defense of this assailed and misunderstood art form.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Https://agohome.ru/live/online-bulls-game-live.html Lives is like no other book on the subject ever published.
Whether you love video games, loathe video games, or are merely curious about why they are becoming the dominant popular art form of our time, Extra Lives is required reading.
The title of this book is Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
Yet, all of these are interesting accounts of his experiences in and impressions of the games while none of them indicate why the games might matter.
He is even more condescending when it comes to game writing predominantly speaking of dialogue and the game press.
There is a theme of the frustrated, would-be game writer that runs through the book.
My favorite quotation in the book is when Bissell describes the evolution of video game graphics.
Are, developmentally speaking, cave paintings, whereas Tempest and Pac-Man are something like modernism, albeit a modernism of necessity.
Within the evolution of video games, no naturalistic stage between the primitivism of Pong and the modernism of Tempest was possible due to the technological limitations to which game designers were subject.
About the center of the book, Bissell admits that video games have improved on almost every level—aesthetic, characterization, dialogue, and emotional appeal—but insists that games started at a degree of minus efficacy pp.
That is why I cannot recommend what could have been an important book.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extr I'm a gamer, plain and simple.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extra Lives attempts to touch upon this question as well as analyze the media's strengths and weaknesses in character design, narrative, etc.
The writing is very analytical and intellectual, giving me flashbacks at times to my days as an English Major, reading through literary journals for paper ideas.
The book does a great job of introducing concepts to readers who have not played alot of games, so anyone interested in the topic can walk away with something, regardless of background knowlegde.
But what I think I was most impressed with is Bissell's ability to help me look at games I have played in a brand new way.
Many of the games he discussed in the book I have played, and he brings up so many fascinating questions that have really changed how I look at some of the experiences.
In the end, I am really glad that I read this book and am glad that books like this are simply out there.
Video games are really the weird kid in the class when it comes to respected medias and it really shouldn't be the case.
Just like there are mindless movies and mindless books, there are, ofcourse, mindless games.
But also just like books and movies and music, there are real things that can be taken away from video games.
Because it's still a relatively new media, this idea really isn't understood by the masses.
And it will come thanks to books that point out the importance of the media, just like Bissell's extra lives.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not that book.
The title is more than a little misleading.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not that book.
The title is more than a little misleading.
More often than not, this hinges on the writing in the games — the subtext of which seems to be that the author believes games would be a whole lot better if the industry employed more people like him.
Bissell gives the impression that he thinks rather highly of himself, and finds many opportunities to remind the reader of his accomplishments, in-game or otherwise.
The result of all of this, unfortunately, is that the book is an infuriating mess.
Bissell is so self-satisfied, his writing so masturbatory, that I found myself actively disliking him not far into the book — and it only gets worse with each subsequent chapter.
Now, I like video games, believe you me — but reading about why he played his Mass Effect character the way he did, or his description of playing Resident Evil for the first time, is painfully boring.
As I alluded to earlier, I really wanted to like this book.
Suggested alternate title: Tom Bissell Presents The Tom Bissell Story In Which Video Games are Played Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
But I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
The Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
But I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
There simply isn't time for everything, and if I want to finish even the meager number of books I need to read for work, something has to go.
Video games were what went.
I was never much of a gamer anyway.
I gravitated towards sports games, for one thing.
I had a long, meaningful relationship with the Indianapolis Colts of Madden 98, which I played on an old Nintendo system I had dug out of my parents' basement.
I'd get home from work late at night, drink a six-pack of domestic beer, and command my team of pixelated men to victory after victory.
These were the nights when I didn't listen to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks over and over again.
There were a few years there where I didn't get laid a lot.
Tom Bissell's Extra Lives sort of makes me want to carve out some time for video games.
Well, it makes me wish I had the time to carve out.
Bissell traces the evolution of games from Resident Evil up through Grand Theft Auto IV, and in the process asks many difficult questions about games and, indeed, art itself.
Can a video game have a story that matches the narrative complexity of a great novel?
Can it go beyond that?
What are the implications of playing a video game in which your character participates in atrocity after atrocity?
The days have arrived when we can talk about video games alongside books and films as great works of narrative art.
This is the first book, to my knowledge, to do so.
I suspect this book would be even more engaging for someone with a passing knowledge of please click for source games he discusses -- Fall Out, Mass Effect, Bio Shock, Far Cry 2, think, avermedia live gamer hd avermedia live gamer extreme think />Bissell's brain is pretty incredible, though, and his sharp, toothy prose fun words Bissell uses include 'sororus' and 'ludonarrative' and perspective was enough to keep this non-gamer turning the pages.
I was enjoying the book until its final chapter, about Grand Theft Auto IV, and Bissell's concurrent decent into cocaine use.
That chapter took the book from a great work of criticism to something more, something higher.
Recommended for anyone with an interest in gaming, narrative, art, or criticism.
I enjoyed reading this book despite the glaring "literariness" of the writing.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
To view it, The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enrich your narrative, adding a personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being freestyle planete rap of annoying.
Unfortunately, Tom Bissell's Most Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the questi The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact https://agohome.ru/live/live-poker-freeroll.html it can either enrich your narrative, adding game extra lives personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being kind of annoying.
Unfortunately, Tom Bissell's Most Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the question asked in the subtitle of this book, "Why video games matter," he instead takes the reader on an occasionally drug-laced trip through why he likes video games.
Along the way he peppers in references to the fact that he's single and can't hold a relationship, he's traveled all over the world, and totally randomly he was addicted to cocaine article source he played through Grand Theft Auto IV who knows how many times.
That book could have been good, but this book as it is is trying too hard.
It's part that, and partartsy-fartsy commentary on video games and how they make us er, Tom Bissell think about violence and character and story.
It's the latter that I liked the best despite it occasionally being extremely heavy-handed and smug.
I don't think Far Cry 2 is some kind of amazingly well-crafted love letter to violence and escapism and man's inhumanity to man, and I don't think the people who made for live dealer casino asia you Grand Theft Auto games are making particularly clever statements when they put a coffee cup in the Statue of Liberty's hand or call Metlife Getalife.
I would say it is really very difficult for a game that has dozens of people working on click at this page to come together to create something as artistic as Tom Bissell thinks video games are.
I do love video games.
Video games brought me some fond memories: playing rented games on my dad's Xbox, obsessing over the winding plot of Tales of Symphonia with my then-boyfriend in my college dorm, beating Castlevania: Curse of Darkness with my little brother, and more.
But I don't think that talking about them the way Tom Bissell does is going to advance them in anyone's mind quite yet.
Yes, some people are devoted to games the way they devote themselves to any true artistic measure.
The indie games on the PlayStation Network, WiiWare and XBox Live attest to that.
But I don't think you can put a game churned out by a big company up on a pedestal.
I'll put Mass Effect right up there with all the love Tom gives it.
Even if he played Shepard totally wrong.
Up there I said the trip through this book is "occasionally drug-laced," but I think that's the wrong choice of words.
Drugs are only mentioned in the very last chapter, which is why it seems so random once he starts to wax poetic about cocaine.
He tries to tie his journey through Grand Theft Auto IV to his cocaine addiction, and it just falls flat.
You cannot yet compare a video game to real life.
He just comes across as a total loser in that chapter and it was a really awkward way to end the book.
I'm waiting for a really good book on this topic.
One of the most consistent criticisms I see in other negative reviews of this book is that Tom Bissell's tone is puzzlingly ambivalent.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the only take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the only take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
In fact, more than a month after having listened to the audiobook, I don't feel that his argument was very enlightening at all.
If anything, it made me feel rather pessimistic and uninspired about the next generation of games, and I don't think that was the intended aim of the book.
I really wanted to like this book.
I love the idea of discussing how we could improve games and particularly narrative-driven games.
Yet the only sections of the book that I found worthwhile, were the parts that focused on veteran game designers' POVs and not the author's.
His interviews with Cliff Bleszinski Gears of WarJohnathan Blow Braidand Peter Molyneux Fable to name a few were the most informative on the attitudes and trends of the current video game industry towards designing narrative-driven games, and what designing games is like today vs.
Another problem I had with this book had to do with the author's strange tone of voice.
At numerous points of the audiobook I felt as if the author was talking to a predominately male audience.
I found this alienating, as it felt as if I was overhearing his argument from an exclusive group huddle.
Weird seeing as he started out the book targeting an audience of critics who may not have much experience with videogames.
Even weirder seeing as over 40% of the gamer crowd is female.
That's not to say I was expecting to read a book that absolutely represented every single gamer that would be a little unrealistic and unfairbut I at least expected to read a book with a bit more of a neutral voice.
Some quotes I actually had to write down or make mental notes of to insert into this review because they struck me as not only awkward, but sometimes offensive in a "too-much-information" way.
Such as Bissell's musing over how he "liked the corporate diligence the upper-tier prostitutes worked the casino bars" in Las Vegas why do I care?
Despite dedicating the book to his two nieces, who he often plays games with, I found Bissell's tone odd and often disconcerting.
I also found it strange that almost every game he chose to talk about, was a game that was not very story-driven at all, or games that were influential, but not very useful to his argument.
For instance, that he spends almost a quarter of the book talking about Farcry and footnotes Shadow of the Colossus and Metal Gear Solid seemed a very odd choice for his arguments that games can tell meaningful stories and have successful game mechanics as well.
It's true that you can't include everything in a survey of the video games industry for critics, but I felt as if he'd missed out on some opportunities to discuss games like Metal Gear Solid, that work with many different forms of media for game design inspiration.
Perhaps what took up the space he could've used to read more some of the games he footnoted, was his sudden switch into autobiography at the tail-end of the book, when he details a cocaine addiction that he suffered while playing GTA and how this epitomized what modern games are like.
Not only did I feel as though the rug was pulled from beneath me at this point of the book, I also felt as if this was a book you would not want to give someone who was skeptical about games and gamer culture.
I understand Bissell prefaced the book with a statement about how much of the views expressed in the book would be personal, but I felt this last story of his addiction should've been saved for another book that was focusing more on his life being a critic that wrote on games and not for a book where he's trying to prove that games are worth people's time.
I guess the bottom line of this review is, I didn't retain much of my experience of listening to this audiobook.
I feel as though I could have looked up gamasutra articles on the creators interviewed in the book and garnered about the same amount of useful information as I did from reading Extra Lives.
I'm glad more varied books on games are coming out on the market, but I'm disappointed I couldn't have enjoyed this book or learned from it more.
An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important are An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important areas to look at.
The author talks about himself quite oft and in high horse terms.
Then in later segments he'll give out more detail about these claims, and his character falters significantly, and credibility with it.
Such as his time in the peace corps which turns out to be a few weeks till he packs it in because he can't hang with it.
Man, best to either not mention in the first place, or go ahead and let me think you actually made an effort to help the world.
Too, some of his descriptions of games generate questions of "did you even play this title?
Much better portions are snippets from industry pros.
He's got a wide range from industry rebel, Johnathan Blow creator of Braid, to mundane "business something something" at Sony.
Going by what he is able to draw out of these folks, and what to distill unto us the reader, I wager the author is far better suited to interviews than critique.
The book does shine in the very last chapter, however, it's cringingly necessary to have read everything else to get the full weight.
We're talking about several pages supposedly devoted to the analysis of Grand Theft Auto as a series and focusing in on IV.
By far the best analysis in the entire book, but more interestingly is the odd story the author tells about his drug addictions.
Early in the book he talks about being an unashamed partaker of marijuana, but that's it nothing else!
However, as he cracks open GTA IV he describes his friend cuttin' several lines of coke.
European alley ways for his dealer to hopefully return a dose of the goods in exchange for all those wads of cash handed over.
Unfortunately, the author never really gets into his abuse issues, or directly confronts why his personality is flawed, weak, and he needs to do this tho he does hint heavily.
And this could have made for a far more interesting read.
But after finishing this final chapter the reader realizes the book was not so much about games, but the author's attempt to do some therapeutic talking to.
Many of his pompous personal claims are later pulled down, his strict drug policies are found to be anything but, he has security issues needing workt thru, but never brings himself to such; always skirting that bush, but breaking off several branches during the circlings.
A book less about games, and more about personal demons.
Fails at both, but encourage a re-write focusing on the latter.
Epilogue: Jacket design by Chip Kidd, basically the "it" man for 90's book designs.
His work here is shamelessy careless to the point of insult, and herein I agree.
The utter lack of care by such a talent speaks volume to the quality of the content, and seen in such light.
It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video gaming habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video games.
For example, the blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Evil might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has pl It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video gaming habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video please click for source />For example, the blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Evil might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has played that game and especially that section of that game more times than he cares to admit, I found that there were very few actual insights in this chapter.
I recently listened to an interview with the author on the Brainy Gamer podcast.
The pre-defined audience of this podcast allowed him to go into a lot of detail regarding his thoughts on the relationship between cocaine and GTA IV, and I was left wondering why he couldn't have included these thoughts in the actual book he was promoting?
It would have made the book a lot more enjoyable.
In the end, I feel as if the author failed to show us 'why video games matter', but rather told us why video games matter to him - and even then only weakly.
For a more engaging and coherent argument on why video games matter, check out.
I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: See more not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into that scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat rooms and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games tha I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into click at this page scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat rooms and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games that I have for books.
So there's this whole evolution of gaming that sort of passed me by, and curiosity about what exactly was going on in those games kind of drew me to this book and I wasn't disappointed.
The author talks about all the different console games he has obsessed over and spent huge chunks of his life on, and in doing so brings about a very fascinating discussion of the elements of those games and what works and doesn't work.
I really enjoyed the whole analysis of "story" and why it is so difficult to incorporate it well into a game, and which games attempt it and fail and which games have broken new ground in that area.
He talks about the killing and the violence in a very matter-of-fact way which I guess if you've spent days and months killing people in-game you can get pretty matter-of-fact about it.
He pretty much bypasses discussing the Mario's and Donkey Kong games because those are mostly memorization; he discusses titles like Grand Theft Auto, and Left 4 Dead, and other various first person shooter games where you play a character that is more than an entity that hits bricks with their heads to get coins.
There's a lot of discussion about "agency"; the ability of the player to choose what happens next in a storyline as opposed to just "playing through the level" or from the beginning of the story to the end.
I wish I didn't have to read the last part, about where he loses himself inside cocaine addiction for awhile.
But in the end it totally makes sense because he admits that gaming, to him, was like cocaine and became inextricably tied up with cocaine, so that now when he replays the games they feel flat and lifeless because he isn't high.
The author also talks about his connections to certain game characters, especially Niko in Grand Theft Auto, and that to me was the most fascinating part of the book.
He connected less with the heroic, world-saving characters than he did with Niko, a misfit out-of-his-element guy trying to get a leg up and mostly not doing it very well.
After all, we can't imagine ourselves saving the world every day, but we sure can relate to making mistakes and haplessly stumbling through life.
This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
He talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about click the following article you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
It was really refreshing to hear someone appreciate the world of games, the place they take you.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
He talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about that you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
It was really refreshing to hear someone appreciate the world of games, the place they take you.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets a little repetitive; describing every game 'beautiful and amazing'.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time waxing obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a sizable chunk of t "Extra Lives: Why Video Games Suck" At least, that's what this book should be called.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time waxing obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a sizable chunk of the book has nothing to do with why they matter.
Bissell constantly wanders off on self-indulgent treks through his own experiences playing games, including a painfully narcissistic retelling of heroically saving his teammates at the last possible moment in a round of Left 4 Dead.
These tales of gaming add nothing to his supposed "claim" that video games matter; they only recount moments that anyone who's played the game would recognize, while allowing himself to praise his own decisions and "analyze" them by comparing them to other games he's played.
He also includes, at the beginning of the second chapter, a massive retelling of the first few minutes of the original Resident Evil.
On my e-book copy, this retelling took up 23 of the chapter's 36 pages, with the rest mainly devoted to mocking its terrible dialogue.
Content aside, this book was painful to get through.
The author's prose reeks of a thesaurus, and includes such gems as: "I have already quoted some of the game's dialogue, which at its least weird sounds as though it has been translated out of Japanese, into Swahili, back into Japanese, into the language of the Lunar Federation, back into Japanese, and finally into English.
He also compares Silent Hill's poor voice acting to "autistic miscalculation" in choosing which words to stress in a sentence.
I could go on, but these two examples alone should make my point.
Finally, Bissell does a disservice to the medium as a whole by focusing on only two genres of games, one in particular: shooters are clearly his favorite, while platformers limp into second place with a single devoted chapter.
Resident Evil, Fallout, Grand Theft Auto, Far Cry, and Mass Effect each have a chapter to themselves, with Left 4 Dead taking a sizable chunk of a supposedly multi-game chapter.
Braid is the only non-shooter game to be given significant attention.
A single chapter is devoted to an interview with Braid's creator, Jonathan Blow, but focuses more on his views of the gaming industry as a whole than the game itself.
Another chapter is named Littlebigproblems, a clear play on the game LittleBigPlanet, but that game is only mentioned at the end of the chapter when Bissell laments how many awards it won.
By focusing so singularly on shooters, he excludes the vast majority of the medium, ignoring or only briefly mentioning such genres as puzzle, RPG, strategy, simulation, MMO, adventure, fighting, stealth, music, and casual games.
Many of his complaints, especially about supposedly lacking storytelling, figure differently into each genre, and it makes it seem like Bissell cherry-picked the specific games he examined to support his chief complaints.
Overall, this book was terrible.
I expected a look at why video games matter.
I received an essay on why video games are an artless, time-wasting medium, according to a man who sings nothing but weak complaints and his own praises.
I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book w I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book was 'Why Video Games Matter,' one critic had stated that the book more accurately described why video games matter to the author.
In fact, there are a number of reasons that video games are really important.
The author alludes to some of them.
Video games, especially first-person shooter games, are very popular among members of the military.
The video game industry is huge, rivaling visit web page media, like movies.
Video games can be used to simulate a lot of different scenarios.
Video games are incredibly violent and encourage people to be violent or don't, I don't know.
So analyze those reasons.
Why are video games popular among the military or how do video games help members of the military develop needed skills?
Or how do video games prevent members of the military here developing needed skills, if that's the case.
What we get instead is a retelling of some of the author's favorite game playing moments.
At times, we get a somewhat self-righteous account of why the author decided not to make a particular video game character take unnecessary violent actions since that would have violated the vision of the game developers.
Ultimately, instead of getting an explanation of why video games matter, I think we get a portrait of a life in which too much time was spent wasted playing video games and taking drugs, with one habit seeming to fuel the other.
The author seems to have been frequently more concerned with whether his female video game characters would consummate their relationships than whether he would consummate his own.
By the end, I was a bit depressed and actually felt like I disliked the author.
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's experience playing first person shooter style games that I don't play.
Where is the universality?
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's experience playing first person shooter style games that I don't play.
Where is the universality?
And where is any shred of an argument supporting the stated importance of video games?
The essays are super disjointed, as a result, there is zero flow in the book.
The chapters don't seem to have any relationship to one another except that they are all about video games.
And for an avid gaming enthusiast Bissell has a surprisingly uncomfortable relationship to his geekery.
But it was the blatant misogyny that ultimately cemented my dislike for Bissell.
In one particularly gross example he wanders into a video game developing company and confronts attractive women milling around.
He then wonders if the company has "expanded to include an escort service or modeling agency or both.
Oh and he also compares Vegas to a spent whore: "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
A lot of readers felt alienated by the chapter on Bissell's cocaine addiction.
I actually felt like it was one of the few times in the book where Bissell is in touch with his humanity and has something interesting to say.
To review Tom Bissell's latest work, it seems one must start off with a little personal background, so as not to be dismissed out-of-hand as an outsider.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
I personally have never gotten too excited about first-person shooters, but I do love a good story woven into my game.
At the outset of Extra Lives, it was apparent that the differences in my personal taste in games would not matter and that Bissell's own skill with narrative could transcend the fact that we will likely never cross paths in an online game forum.
The first few chapters of the work were excellently written: though I have never played Fallout 3 or Resident Evil, and have only fleeting acquaintance with Left for Dead, I was still transported and engaged.
I shared Bissell's frustration with the often teeth-grindingly-terrible dialog in games and was breathlessly beside him as he tiptoed his way past hordes of zombie minions in Left for Dead.
I found myself openly laughing at Bissell's wit and excited about his apparent insights into gaming.
Even while discussing fairly specific experiences, Bissell was speaking to the heart of gaming in general.
Bissell has clearly thought deeply about gaming; how it could be improved and how impactful it already is on even the casual gamer.
He repeatedly discusses his ideas on how gaming should be improved and how it can be elevated as an art form.
He makes the argument that games, rather uniquely as an art form, can achieve a level of interactivity that places the gamer in situations they would never encounter in life.
With such a strong base, I was hooked and excited to hear what Bissell had to say on this matter.
Unfortunately, as I progressed past the first third of the book, it seemed as though Bissell lost his way.
A good portion of the middle section of this book seemed more appropriate for a magazine game review and was just plain frustrating to anyone who has not specifically played the game in question.
I soldiered on anyway, kept from total madness by the occasional interviews that Bissell had with various game designers — all of which were excellent and revealing.
Armed with more information than I cared to know on the realistic pleas for mercy programmed into the computer characters within Far Cry 2, I approached the final chapter — wherein Bissell discusses his addiction to cocaine and we are assured completely unrelated addition to Grand Theft Auto IV.
All of the formidable powers of insight that Bissell displays in dissecting the minute flaws of story or gameplay vanish when he turns his gaze upon his own life.
The central problem of this book became apparent to me only once it was finished: Tom Bissell is far too personally involved with the games and gamer culture that he is reporting upon.
In his book Bissell approaches the edge of the most important and interesting questions facing the gaming industry and any self-aware gamer.
Having brought the reader to this vantage point, Bissell merely dances distractingly in place for hundreds of pages.
I agree with Bissell that it would be great to elevate the art of game design — making games more insightful, impactful and involving.
But the next obvious discussion following this is one of content.
Yet what does it mean that when Bissell and many other gamers are free to pursue these impulses, they are mostly destructive?
Why, among the dozens of blockbuster games that Bissell highlighted, were almost all of them exceptionally violent?
In a discussion of the meaning of games, why was there only fleeting reference to scientific studies suggesting games impact the user in significant ways?
Yet, in the very next chapter, Bissell gleefully recounts his in-game actions upon the citizens programmed in Grand Theft Auto IV; namely, finding thousands of clever and gruesome ways to massacre them.
I think many serious gamers myself included are conflicted in a similar manner; amazed at the power and imagination of games — yet a little frightened of the emotional sway those games can hold over them.
But surely in a book about the meaningfulness of games, a discussion on the broader impact of game content on their users is relevant?
Bissell is clearly an intelligent and game extra lives insightful guy.
He speaks of what a powerful force gaming can be, what an influential force it has been in his life, then speaks of how he dreams of a future where such games are even more inspiring and engrossing.
Given his significant personal experience wrestling with the darker side of games in his life, the absence of any substantial discussion on the ethics surrounding game design is particularly glaring.
Unfortunately, he cowardly lets himself, and the entire gaming industry, off very lightly in this book.
Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew was getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Circuit, and all click at this page the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed t Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew was getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Circuit, and all of the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed to have—just like Reader Rabbit was the first, and for a long time the only, computer game permitted me.
Which is not to say I was omg horribly deprived or anything.
Just: I never developed an interest in video games, and I still don't have one—the only modern game I think I've played is Rock Band, and when I play that at parties I always try to position myself as the singer because I lack the hand-eye coordination to succeed at any of the instruments.
That's the price of a childhood without video games, right there.
Nevertheless, I was enthralled by Bissell's treatise on their cultural importance.
Like an extended version of 's fabulous essay on Saved By the Bell which I also wasn't allowed to watch—no cartoons, either fromBissell combines examples of what video games have meant to him with an exploration of what larger significance they have or might one day hope to achieve.
I may have even been at an advantage, having no idea what Bissell was talking about: I've seen some other reviewers complain that, for example, the long section where he takes the reader step-by-step, moment-by-moment through the opening of the first Resident Evil game is too much of a rehash if you've played it.
I haven't, and therefore I found it fascinating to experience this paradigm-shifting game along with Bissell's younger self.
Do I really need more ways to waste time?
I have the internet, thanks.
I know this sounds like circular logic, but: the stuff that matters matters.
I can has my sociology degree nao?
My copy came in at the library the same day I got the new Arcade Fire album, The Suburbs, and the two go beautifully together, both evoking this sense of isolation among sprawl and summoning up images of post-apocalyptic landscapes.
A theme in many video games—maybe I am missing out?
I haven't had two disparate works work so well together since the Christmas I was given both 's and Sarah McLachlan's Touch.
Ginger Series authors give us an entry into a world they enjoy, even adore, through sharing the story of their own romantic relationship with it.
Bissell takes this autobiographical approach much further.
His book criss-crosses between reportage, travelogue, love letter, and excoriating self confession, especially when it comes to his several years spent not writing he was the author of several books of fiction and a regular columnist for a number of magazinesplaying games in marathon-like sessions, and throwing cocaine up his nose: Soon I was sleeping in my clothes.
Soon my hair was stiff and fragrantly unclean.
Soon I was doing lines before my Estonian class, staying up for days, curating prodigious nose bleeds and spontaneously vomiting from exhaustion.
Soon my pillowcases bore rusty coins of nasal drippage.
Soon the only thing I could smell was something like the inside of an empty bottle of prescription medicine.
Soon my biweekly phone call to my cocaine dealer was a weekly phone call.
Soon I was walking into the night, handing hundreds of dollars in cash to a Russian man whose name I did not even know, waiting in alleys for him to come back — which he always did, though I never fully expected him to — and retreating home, to my Xbox, to GTA IV, to the electrifying solitude of my mind at play in an anarchic digital world.
Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of live casinos london is one I loathe.
I do know that video games have enriched my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
They have also done damage to my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
I let this happen, of course; I even helped the process along.
As for cocaine, it has been a long time since I last did it, but not as long as I would like.
Bissell seems more performance and personality focused his interviews with figures in the game design world are a strength of the book that prevent it from becoming me-me-me-ishBarr somewhat more philosophical and reflective.
For Bissell, the writer, this concern is storytelling, and how video games are still weighted towards game play rather than narrative: This is one of the most suspect things about the game form.
However, he continues, in that essay he was trying to talk about the intelligence that distinguishes art works from everything else.
Intelligence, he says, can be expressed in all sorts of way; morally, formally, technically, stylistically, thematically, emotionally.
Masterpieces - the things we identify as wiping the table with their intelligence - are comprehensively intelligent; intelligent in all sorts of game extra lives />And they are generally the result of one unified vision, one single game.
Bissell is unsure: A noisy group of video-game critics and theoreticians laments the rise of story in games.
Tetris would be the best example of this sort of game.
My suspicion is that this lament comes less from frustration with story qua story than it does from the narrative butterfingers on outstanding display in the vast majority of contemporary video games.
I share that frustration.
I also love being the agent of chaos in the video game world.
What I want from games - a control as certain and seamless as the means by which I am being controlled - may be impossible, and I am back to where I began.
Bissell also observes that video games are different from other art forms in one very exact way: the player is just that - not a viewer or reader, but an active, decision-making participant.
His special interest - as a gamer, an academic, and increasingly the game creator - it is playing against the grain, exploring what the world offers, how far you can probe it.
What happens if you walk away from your mission and instead decide to drive your car into a lake or watch a rabbit hop around your horse?
Drive for a while, and listen to a jazz station on the radio as you search for something new to do.
You carefully drive the lage garbage truck down leafy pathways, swerving to avoid pedestrians.
Looking for an amusing diversion, you drive into a lake and somehow manage to keep going with half the vehicle submerged.
The music becomes muted by the water, lending a muffled soundtrack to the already strange scene.
You drive like this for a while, tooting the horn at people walking next to the water.
They stop and star at the incongruous sight of a garbage truck driving in a lake in Central Park.
The idea that we can decide how we feel like relating to a video game is important, even revolutionary.
It means we are playing the game, not the other way around.
Playing a game can be seen as a kind of conversation with its designer.
Their answer comes in the way the game responds to your actions.
This was the point that really fired my imagination in the two books - and brought me circling back to the frustration Bissell feels.
The one exception might be the kinds of game that Barr clearly loves: simulations like The Sims, and the collaborative world-building game MInecraft.
It is the potential for collaborative play that really seems to thrill him: A big part of the excitement of playing a game with someone else is sharing a world with them.
Often this means teaming up to engage in mortal combat against others.
In Left 4 Dead, a zombie-based game, four players join forces to try and survive in various zombie-infested locations.
While battling zombies is entertaining on its own, having a friend rush to your side to dislodge a zombie and then give you medical aid can really get the adrenaline pumping … … There are few gaming experiences more immediately stunning than seeing another person run past you in the same virtual world.
The realisation that various moving figures around you are, in reality, all people who are playing the same game, following the same rules, and sharing many of the same objectives as you is a paradigm shift.
With more space and a different remit, but to the same conclusion, Bissell also discusses Left 4 Dead.
For what more can one ask?
What more could one want?
I want to bring in a quote now from a recent post on.
In this post, Barr comes back to this point he and Bissell have been circling, this magical opportunity.
Perhaps one of the challenges for tragedy in video games is to jettison the notion that the player should always be the explicit author of their circumstances but instead as merely one part in a larger world which is not always impressed or even affected by their actions.
But both have opened my eyes, not https://agohome.ru/live/free-bingo-live.html to the rich, deep, wide, silly, expensive, violent, harrowing and pluripotent world of video games, but also to the conversations that go on within it.
I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into c I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into console games, but I did have a 5+ year addiction to the MMORPG Runescape-- and while I look on those lost years very fondly, I don't consider them to be of any inherent value.
There are two main reasons my I personally don't think video games can justify their existence.
First is that they are an addictive time sink, with the corollary that the lost time takes away from not only more productive hobbies, but also things necessary for existence like an income to provide for yourself and healthy relationships.
The second is that many OK, not all, but quite a darn few including the entire genre of FPS games video games are extremely violent, and they treat violence very casually.
Just reading paragraph after paragraph in this book shows you how casually murder is treated in these things, and the author admitting multiple times that, well, you just kind of don't feel anything: At one point in Far Cry 2, I was running along the savanna when I was spotted by two militiamen.
I turned and shot, and, I thought, killed them both.
When I waded into the waist-deep grass to pick up their ammo, it transpired that one of the men was still alive.
He proceed to plug me with his sidearm.
Frantic, and low on health, I looked around, trying to find the groaning, dying man, but the grass was too dense.
I sprinted away, only to be hit by a few more of his potshots.
When I had put enough distance between us, I lobbed a Molotov cocktail into the general area where the supine, dying man lay.
Within seconds, I could hear him screaming amid the twiggly crackly of the grass catching fire.
Sitting before my television, I felt a kind of horridly unreciprocated intimacy with the man I had just burned to death.
If the video game references were taken out of this passage and you didn't know the context, this would be horrible.
But because it's a video game.
It's just flashes of pixelated light.
A third critique of video games that I thought of while reading the book was given in an article by Mormon apostle David A.
Bednar that I find philosophically interesting, even if it isn't the first reason that might come to your mind.
My heart aches when a young couple—sealed together in the house of the Lord for time and for all eternity by the power of the holy priesthood—experiences marital difficulties because of the addicting effect of excessive video gaming or online socializing.
A young man or woman may waste countless hours, postpone or forfeit vocational or academic achievement, and ultimately sacrifice cherished human relationships because of mind- and spirit-numbing video and online games.
Are you suggesting that video gaming and various types of computer-mediated communication can play a role in minimizing the importance of our physical bodies?
We live at a time when technology can be used to replicate reality, to augment reality, and to create virtual reality.
For example, a medical doctor can use software simulation to gain valuable experience performing a complicated surgical operation without ever putting a human patient at risk.
I'm pretty open about talking about my faith with other people, and I get quite a few curious inquiries.
This friend asked, "What do Mormons think of video games?
But Church leaders have given pretty stark warnings about video games, and many Mormon families are wary of them.
My family, for instance, had a no-video-game policy for our entire childhood, and we would only get to play them at friend's houses where the long arm of parental rules couldn't reach.
I myself made it to adulthood feeling the better for it, and am glad I escaped childhood relatively unscathed.
Funny enough though, this book doesn't purport to be an exercise in video game apologetics.
It doesn't provide a cohesive argument, and even readily admits the dark side of video games.
Tom Bissell gives a disclaimer at the beginning that the book rather seeks to express "one man's opinions and thoughts on what playing games feels like, why he plays them, and the questions they make him think about.
Some of my favorite passages include this explanation of why the best games are the ones that don't try to explain too much: For many gamers and by all evidence, game designersstory is largely a matter of accumulation.
The more explanation there is, the thought appears to go, the more story has to be generated.
This would be a profound misunderstanding of story for any form of narrative art, but it has hobbled the otherwise high creative achievement of any number of games.
Frequently in works with any degree of genre loyalty-- this would include a vast majority of video games-- the more explicit the story becomes, the more silly it suddenly will seem.
Let us call this the Midi-chlorian Error.
The best science fiction is usually densely realistic in quotidian detail but evocatively vague about the bigger questions.
Tolkien is all but ruined for me whenever I make the mistake of perusing the Anglo-Saxon Talmudisms of his various appendices: "Among the Eldar the Alphabet of Daeron did not develop true cursive forms"-- kill me, please now-- "since for writing the Elves adopted the Faenorian letters.
The impulse to explain is the Achilles' heel of all genre work, and the most sophisticated artists within every genre know better than to expose their worlds to the sharp knife of intellection.
Super Mario requires an ability to recognize patterns, considerable hand-eye coordination, and quick reflexes.
Gears requires the ability to think tactically and make subtle judgments based on scant information, a constant awareness of multiple variables ammunition stores, enemy weaknesses as they change throughout the game, and the spatial sensitivity to control one's movement through a space in which the "right" direction is not always apparent.
Anyone who plays modern games such as Gears does not so much learn the rules as develop a kind of intuition for how the game operates.
Often, there is no single way to accomplish a given task; improvisation is rewarded.
Older games, like Super Mario, punish improvisation; You live or die according to their algebra alone.
As someone who attempts to write what is politely known as literary fiction, I am confident in this assertion.
For me, stories break the surface in the form of image or character or situation.
I start with the variables, not the system.
This is intended neither to ennoble my way of working nor denigrate the game designer; it is to acknowledge the very different formal constraints game designers have to struggle with.
While I may wonder if a certain story idea will "work", this would be a differently approached and much, much less subjective question if I were a game designer.
A game that does not work will, literally, not function.
There is, it should be said, another side to the game-designer mind-set: No matter how famous or well known, most designers are happy to talk about how their games failed in certain areas, and they will even explain why.
Not in my life have I encountered a writer with a blood-alcohol content below.
There were some detracting elements, including his pretty foul mouth and a few jabs at religious folk I found in poor taste.
And while I enjoyed quite a bit of the book, the last chapter kind of ruined it.
It's literally a play by play of him doing nothing but playing video games while getting high on weed and cocaine.
Any aesthetic appreciation for the genre of video games kind of left at that point.
Listen to this summary by the author of pretty much why both video games and cocaine are bad for you-- and also a kind of existential crisis: Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude, and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of cocaine is one I loathe and distrust.
For every moment of transcendence there is a moment in the gutter.
For all its emotional violence there are long periods of quiet and calm.
Something bombardingly strange or new is always happening.
You constantly find things, constantly learn things, constantly see things you could not have imagined.
When you are away from it, you long for its dark and narrow energies.
But am I talking about video games or cocaine?.
So what have games given me?
Not surrogate experiences, but actual experiences, many of which are as important to me as any real memories.
Once I wanted games to show me things I could not see in any other medium.
Then I wanted games to tell me a story in a way no other medium can.
Then I wanted games to redeem something absent in myself.
Then I wanted a game experience that points not toward something, but at something.
Playing GTA IV on coke for weeks and then months at a time, I learned that maybe all a game can do is point at the person who is playing it, and maybe this has to be enough.
There is some absolutely beautiful prose here.
Bissell is very gifted, and this book is worth reading whether you like video games or despise them.
If anything, it at least helped me appreciate the appeal that video games have for some people.
This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Bissell really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Bissell really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is essentially a land mine.
Say the wrong thing or have the wrong opinions and your critics and the trolls will be on you faster than a speeding bullet, and it's possible my opinions here are a case in point.
Certain passages are described perfectly and with such attention to detail I knew exactly what he was talking about.
Bissell's descriptions of Left 4 Dead, for example, were spot on; he flawlessly captured the intensity and the rush of adrenaline when you hear the ominous sound that signals a horde is approaching.
Likewise, his retelling of the opening sequence of Resident Evil 2 strikes as much fear and anxiety as an actual playthrough.
In those limited cases, Bissell is a magician and he deserves three stars.
On the other hand, Bissell had his chance at a soapbox, and this is mine.
You can't claim to be a champion of games or claim to be spearheading the movement to validate games as art by brushing off historic, iconic games that have been universally accepted as some of the best games ever, period.
Bissell likes to praise games that come with great story, but he skims over Ocarina of Time as something that lacks "imagination" and despite being over forty hours long in a complete playthrough, it is "somehow too small.
Anything from racecars to shooters are possible, but Bissell doesn't care for that unless he's racing against police in GTA or shooting zombies.
The latter half of the book is focused on games that really don't have an ending.
Games like Mass Effect and Fry Cry and Grand Theft Auto, although they do have an ending in the script, rarely see players actually reaching any level of completion.
In addition to zombies and monsters, Bissell has a great fondness for games that let him wander around aimlessly to do whatever he wants.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with liking the open world genre of games.
But when he comes out and says "OPEN WORLD GAMES A+++" and then turns around to say "World of Warcraft??
I have no doubt Bissell has played his fair share of games, and in the end this isn't a one star review because in the end this is just an opinion piece, and I can't fault him too much for having an opinion.
I agree with a few of his points, but just the ones where he praises the games he likes.
The times when he only briefly mentions a legendary game and tosses it aside as "not good enough," I can't agree.
Two stars, maybe one.
Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows this is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, af Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows https://agohome.ru/live/online-live-casino-bonuses.html is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, after all.
It's the reader of exceeding eclecticism that can digest all of his allusions to Epic Games, Nabokov, John le Carre, BraidCutting Crew, and David Foster Wallace a mere iceberg tip.
Every chapter is filled with fascinating interviews with adults who aren't just cynical suits piloting moneygrabbing corporations, but instead a smattering of brilliant and groundbreaking individuals who want to take gaming to an experiential height that we can't yet imagine, finances be damned.
Along these chapters, Bissell recounts the games that morphed him into something other than himself, a feeling to which we might relate.
Perhaps we snap at our girlfriends' temerity of a goodbye kiss during Demon's Souls i.
Mayhaps we ignore our supposedly highbrow pursuits.
Or simply lament the inordinate amount of time we have spent gaming.
Bissell readily admits to 200+hrs playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivionsomething to which I can entirely relate 120+ playing Dragon Age: Origins and ~150 hrs so far with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Are we doing anything worthwhile with these hours?
I would submit that Thomsen only partially gets the point in his critique of the 100+hour game.
The gaming journeys he criticizes in the epics of modern RPGs aren't important to gamers because of what has actually been accomplished breaking boxes, amassing virtual currency, having polygonal polyamory, or drubbing enemies with increasingly cool magic.
It's actually immaterial if the activity is repetitive, irrelevant, or goofy, and boy are some of them goofy.
Gaming matters to me, at least today, because it gives me a buzz.
Demon's Souls gives me literal goosebumps and can cause a literal rage.
The SNES's Final Fantasy III made me weep.
Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City made the capable author Tom Bissell disappear into another world, and be thankful for the opportunity.
If video games don't do anything for you, you most certainly should not be online live casino malaysia />But as long as they do, you should never stop.
EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is how upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peri This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is how upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peripheral things they do.
Bissell holds the line, and it serves him really well here.
I don't think that the book lives up to the subtitle, why games matter.
The conceit of the title, extra lives, really only comes up in the first essay, though it's a really solid idea-- that these games really do allow us to explore ourselves in a new context.
But in the end, this remains a very personal, if approachable, take on video games.
It's a lot like Doug Wolk's Reading Comics, though I might like this one a little more that might be because I don't have opinions about games the way I do about comics, so I talked back to this book less than I did Wolk's.
But I also felt its inquiries were more sustained and developed a core concern.
I'm still not sure what to make of the final chapter, a kind of throw everything at the wall chapter that introduces Bissell's cocaine use pretty explicitly, in terms I don't know how to process-- it almost makes the book, opening up to us a useful parallel to what Bissell gets out of games v.
But I feel like parts of it are a little too swept under the rug or raced past.
It's good, and I'd read more, without a doubt.
So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", which I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the history of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this bo So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", which I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the history of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this book as an analyst of industry fortunes a topic about which I could not imagine caring less or as a chronicler of how games rose and came to be, and my understanding of the technical side of game design is nil.
In the portions of the book where I address game design and game designers, it is, I hope, to a formally explanatory rather than technically informative end.
In fact, the book almost exclusively focuses on "story" or "narrative" games, a genre which I've never really played much.
To make matters worse, the "Little Big Problems" chapter was really about the uncanny valley, and only mentions Little Big Planet in passing.
At the end, the book takes an odd turn and becomes a confessional about the author's drug use, and leaves me a bit confused about the overall purpose of the book.
Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually have had an engrossing, good time, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - h Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually have had an engrossing, good time, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - he is really much more interested in the question which he explores at some depth and really seems on the fence about.
In any event this is a very well written book, large parts of which are about two places I used to work BioWare and Ubisoft and I definitely recognize them in his prose though he was a little to soft on BioWare's writing.
His style and vocabulary are very engaging, but above all I was drawn to his honesty.
He confesses a lot about himself in this book which lends credibility to his insights and judgements about the games themselves.
As a writer he is mostly interested in narrative in video games and the conflict that has with allowing players to construct their own.
This is the best book about video games I've read.
I didn't come away feeling like he'd made a solid point, but I did feel like he'd explored the problem s well enough to really know what he's talking about.
Extra Lives is essentially an argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are big releases that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a per Extra Lives is essentially an argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are indonesia online casino live releases that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a person who plays video games, I feel like he is just preaching to the choir, but I can understand that he may be reaching out to his wider readership, the people who got into him through Chasing the Sea or God Lives in St.
Petersburg or whatever he writes game extra lives Grantland, and I think he does a pretty good job of this.
People who like games will probably only be interested in some of the behind the scenes details of how companies like Ubisoft and Bioware work, but for the uninitiated, the details of Bissel's personal experiences with games and the argument that they invoke such personal experiences may make them want to explore the medium more.
Also, I think he implies that he left Ashley in Mass Effect to die in Virmire because she expressed some anti-alien sentiments.
It's really weird how many people I've talked to used this as the key detail in making that decision.
I chose to leave Kaidan because he is just Carth and I don't want to deal with Carth in another Bioware game.
I was generally entertained by this exploration of one player's life in games and what they mean to him.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly as compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly as compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Game extra lives 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
We have the distinction of being the first generation of humanity to spend The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Commodore 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
What this tidy statistic ignores, however, is how ambivalent most of us are about it.
I suppose this is what Tom Bissell is getting at with his badly mislabelled Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
I suppose what he means is something more like Extra Sighs: Why Video Games Matter to Anxious Thirty-Somethings Who Wrestle with the Suspicion That They're Wasting Their Time.
But there is much that I recognize in Bissell, not just for myself but for the other 35 year olds who still play video games when they can but do it with the sort of furtive and vaguely apologetic solitude generally reserved for masturbation.
Ours is not just the first generation to spend our whole lives with video games as a going concern but also likely the last to think of video games as weird.
With internet dating, we were the ones who suffered through the awkward phase of okcupid and match.
So it is with video games, a hobby in which we invested heavily only to see that investment mature at precisely the moment when we finally became too busy, too gray and too uncool to retain our position as the vanguards of the movement.
The kids will have more fun and play better video games than we did, and will be yet more likely to enjoy them openly and without cultural baggage and play them with their girlfriends!
Each generation is doomed to calcify against the innovations of the ones that follow, and we just happened to fall on the wrong side of the cut-off.
Video games are embarrassing.
Video games are often visually and sonically beautiful, and are almost always triumphs of engineering and design, but they remain stubbornly remedial in most aspects of plot, narrative and message, a crippling deficiency for a medium which seeks above all to ape the basic structures of the cinematic.
Playing video games is fun, but a fun that frequently fails to withstand scrutiny.
And while the often lazy sexism of videogames is their most presently infamous shortcoming, the absence of a capacity for meaningful dialogue and story, even in the best games, is arguably odds nba free live corrosive.
For gamers of a certain age - which is to say, his age - this book is a marvelous compendium of shared experience.
On that level, this is a gutsy book to write because of its heavy potential for immediate obsolescence.
Every one of the titles I just mentioned has spawned a sequel in the few years since Bissell wrote Extra Lives, and while his observations are often prophetic, much of what he has to say fixates too much on the compelling questions of that particular moment, most of which are already long buried.
His breathless exhumation of the specifics of the invention of the cover system within the first person shooter, for example, is already more a study in how quickly the innovative becomes familiar than an article worth more than purely historical interest.
Bissell writes in three essential modes: The first is an analysis of the narrative incoherence of videogames, and this he does well, repeatedly teasing out the dissonant aspects of the recognized classics without diminishing their importance.
The second operates as a memoir - his life seen through videogames, culminating in a largely self-destructive collision of Grand Theft Auto and cocaine which nearly ended his career as a real madrid game live vs barcelona />The last, and least successful, are his forays into videogame journalism, which are often game extra lives interviews with personalities already familiar to the gaming community and mostly dulling to everyone else.
In the end, not enough time is actually spent on why video games do matter to take this book out of the category of personal memoir and into something more important.
They're only getting better.
I look forward to watching my kids enjoy them while I do the dishes.
Some cool essays about video games, characterization, and why some are more entertaining than others.
I didn't need the tedious info on gaming design conventions or the author's old cocaine habit.
Didn't answer the "why video games matter" of the title, but if you have even a passing interest in video games you may be interested in the opinions here.
ReedIII Quick Review: Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
Are video games both art and entertainment?
This very personal book never actually answers the questions proposed or promoted in the title.
However the book does give gamers and non-gamers good ways to view games in general and some games specifically.
Tom Bissell born 1974 is a journalist, critic, and fiction writer.
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
We are, in effect, admitting that we like to spend our time shooting monsters, and They are, not unreasonably, failing to find the value in that.
Stories are about time passing and narrative progression.
Games are about challenge, which frustrates the passing of time and impedes narrative progression.
The story force wants to go forward and the "friction force" of challenge tries to hold story back.
This is the conflict at the heart of the narrative game, one that game designers have thus far imperfectly addressed by making story the reward of a successfully met challenge.

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Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who continue reading three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Extra Lives is an impassioned defense of this assailed and misunderstood art form.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is like no other book on the subject ever published.
Whether you love video games, loathe video games, or are merely curious about why they are becoming the dominant popular art form of our time, Extra Lives is required reading.
The title of this book is Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
Yet, all of these are interesting accounts of his experiences in and impressions of the games while none of them indicate why the games might matter.
He is even more condescending when it comes to game writing predominantly speaking of dialogue and the game press.
There is a theme of the frustrated, would-be game writer that runs through the book.
My favorite quotation in the book is when Bissell describes the evolution of video game live malaysia online casino />Are, developmentally speaking, cave paintings, whereas Tempest and Pac-Man are something like modernism, albeit a modernism of necessity.
Within the evolution of video games, no naturalistic stage between the primitivism of Pong and the modernism of Tempest was possible due to the technological limitations to which game designers were subject.
About the center of the book, Bissell admits that video games have improved on almost every level—aesthetic, characterization, dialogue, and emotional appeal—but insists that games started at a degree of minus efficacy pp.
That is why I cannot recommend what could have been an important book.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extr I'm a gamer, plain and simple.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extra Lives attempts to touch upon this question as well as analyze the media's strengths and weaknesses in character design, narrative, etc.
The writing is very analytical and intellectual, giving me flashbacks at times to my days as an English Major, reading through literary journals for paper ideas.
The book does a great job of introducing concepts to readers who have not played alot of games, so anyone interested in the topic can walk away with something, regardless of background knowlegde.
But what I think I was most impressed with is Bissell's ability to help me look at games I have played in a brand new way.
Many of the games he discussed in the book I have played, and he brings up so many fascinating questions that have really changed how I look at some of the experiences.
In the end, I am really glad that I read this book and am glad that books like this are simply out there.
Video games are really the weird kid in the class when it comes to respected medias and it really shouldn't be the case.
Just like there are mindless movies and mindless books, there are, ofcourse, mindless games.
But also just like books and movies and music, there are real things that can be taken away from video games.
Because it's still a relatively new media, this idea really isn't understood by the masses.
But as the gamers of old become adults and the game extra lives continues to become more widespread, I think a time will come where a conversation about Animal Farm will be just as respected as a conversation about Bioshock.
And it will come thanks to books that point out the importance of the media, just like Bissell's extra lives.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not that book.
The title is more than a little misleading.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not that book.
The title is more than a little misleading.
More often than not, this hinges on the writing in the games — the subtext of which seems to be that the author believes games would be a whole lot better if the industry employed more people like him.
Bissell gives the impression that he thinks rather highly of himself, and finds many opportunities to remind the reader of his accomplishments, in-game or otherwise.
The result of all of this, unfortunately, is that the book is an infuriating mess.
Bissell is so self-satisfied, his writing so masturbatory, that I found myself actively disliking him not far into the book — and it only gets worse with each subsequent chapter.
Now, I like video games, believe you me — but reading about why he played his Mass Effect character the way he did, or his description of playing Resident Evil for the first time, is painfully boring.
As I alluded to earlier, I really wanted to like this book.
Suggested alternate title: Tom Bissell Presents The Tom Bissell Story In Which Video Games are Played Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
But I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
The Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
But I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
There simply isn't time for everything, and if I want to finish even the meager number of books I need to read for work, something has to go.
Video games were what went.
I was never much of a gamer anyway.
I gravitated towards sports games, for one thing.
I had a long, meaningful relationship with the Indianapolis Colts of Madden 98, which I played on an old Nintendo system I had dug out of my parents' basement.
I'd get home from work late at night, drink a six-pack of domestic beer, and command my team of pixelated men to victory after victory.
These were the nights when I didn't listen to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks over and over again.
There were a few years there where I didn't get laid a lot.
Tom Bissell's Extra Lives sort of makes me want to carve out some time for video games.
Well, it makes me wish I had the time to carve out.
Bissell traces the evolution of games from Resident Evil up through Grand Theft Auto IV, and in the process asks many difficult questions about games and, indeed, art itself.
Can a video game have a story that matches the narrative complexity of a great novel?
Can it go beyond that?
What are the implications of playing a video game in which your character participates in atrocity after atrocity?
The days have arrived when we can talk about video games alongside books and films as great works of narrative art.
This is the first book, to my knowledge, to do so.
I suspect this book would be even more engaging for someone with a passing knowledge of the games he discusses -- Fall Out, Mass Effect, Bio Shock, Far Cry 2, etc.
Bissell's brain is pretty incredible, though, and his sharp, toothy prose fun words Bissell uses include 'sororus' and 'ludonarrative' and perspective was enough to keep this non-gamer turning the pages.
I was enjoying the book until its final chapter, about Grand Theft Auto IV, and Bissell's concurrent decent into cocaine use.
That chapter took the book from a great work of criticism to something more, something higher.
Recommended for anyone with an interest in gaming, narrative, art, or criticism.
I enjoyed reading this book despite the glaring "literariness" of the writing.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
To view it, The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enrich your narrative, adding a personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being kind of annoying.
Unfortunately, Tom Bissell's Most Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the questi The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enrich your narrative, adding a personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being kind of annoying.
Unfortunately, Tom Bissell's Most Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the question asked in the subtitle of this book, "Why video games matter," he instead takes the reader on an occasionally drug-laced trip through why he likes video games.
Along the way he peppers in references to the fact that he's single and can't hold a relationship, he's traveled all over the world, and totally randomly he was addicted to cocaine while he played through Grand Theft Auto IV who knows how many times.
That book could have been good, but this book as it is is trying too hard.
It's part that, and partartsy-fartsy commentary on video games and how they make us er, Tom Bissell think about violence and character and story.
It's the latter that I liked the best despite it occasionally being extremely heavy-handed and smug.
I don't think Far Cry 2 is some kind of amazingly well-crafted love letter to violence and link and man's inhumanity to man, and I don't think the people who made the Grand Theft Auto games are making particularly clever statements when they put a coffee cup in the Statue of Liberty's hand or call Metlife Getalife.
I would say it is really very difficult for a game that has dozens of people working on it to come together to create click as artistic as Tom Bissell thinks video games are.
I do love video games.
Video games brought me some fond memories: playing rented games on my dad's Xbox, obsessing over the winding plot of Tales of Symphonia with my then-boyfriend in my college dorm, beating Castlevania: Curse of Darkness with my little brother, and more.
But I don't think that talking about them the way Tom Bissell does is going to advance them in anyone's mind quite yet.
Yes, some people are devoted to games the way they devote themselves to any true artistic measure.
The indie games on the PlayStation Network, WiiWare and XBox Live attest to that.
But I don't think you can put a game churned out by a big company up on a pedestal.
I'll put Mass Effect right up there with all the love Tom gives it.
Even if he played Shepard totally wrong.
Up there I said the trip through this book is "occasionally drug-laced," but I think that's the wrong choice of words.
Drugs are only mentioned in the very last chapter, which is why it seems so random once he starts to wax poetic about cocaine.
He tries to tie his journey through Grand Theft Auto IV to his cocaine addiction, and it just falls flat.
You cannot yet compare a video game to real life.
He just comes across as a total loser in that chapter and it was a really awkward way to end the book.
I'm waiting for a really good book on this topic.
One of the most consistent criticisms I see in other negative reviews of this book is that Tom Bissell's tone is puzzlingly ambivalent.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the only take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the only take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
In fact, more than a month after having listened to the audiobook, I don't feel that his argument was very enlightening at all.
If anything, it made me feel rather pessimistic and uninspired about the next generation of games, and I don't think that was the intended aim of the book.
I really wanted to like this book.
I love the idea of discussing how we could improve games and particularly narrative-driven games.
Yet the only sections of the book that I found worthwhile, were the parts that focused on veteran game designers' POVs and not the author's.
His interviews with Cliff Bleszinski Gears of WarJohnathan Blow Braidand Peter Molyneux Fable to name a few were the most informative on the attitudes and trends of the current video game industry towards designing narrative-driven games, and what designing games is like today vs.
Another problem I had with this book had to do with the author's strange tone of voice.
At numerous points of the audiobook I felt as if the author was talking to a predominately male audience.
I found this alienating, as it felt as if I was overhearing his argument from an exclusive group huddle.
Weird seeing as he started out the book targeting an audience of critics who may not have much experience with videogames.
Even weirder seeing as over 40% of the gamer crowd is female.
That's not to say I was expecting to read a book that absolutely represented every single gamer that would be a little unrealistic and unfairbut I at least expected to read a book with a bit more of a neutral voice.
Some quotes I actually had to write down or make mental notes of to insert into this review because they struck me as not only awkward, but sometimes offensive in a "too-much-information" way.
Such as Bissell's musing over how he "liked the corporate diligence the upper-tier prostitutes worked the casino bars" in Las Vegas why do I care?
Despite dedicating the book to his two nieces, who he often plays games with, I found Bissell's tone odd and often disconcerting.
I also found it strange that almost every game he chose to talk about, was a game that was not very story-driven at all, or games that were influential, but not very useful to his argument.
For instance, that he spends almost a quarter of the book talking about Farcry and footnotes Shadow of the Colossus and Metal Gear Solid seemed a very odd choice for his arguments that games can tell meaningful stories and have successful game mechanics as well.
It's true that you can't include everything in a survey of the video games industry for critics, but I felt as if he'd missed out on some opportunities to discuss games like Metal Gear Solid, that work with many different forms of media for game design inspiration.
Perhaps what took up the space he could've used to discuss some of the games he footnoted, was his sudden switch into autobiography at the tail-end of the book, when he details a cocaine addiction that he suffered while playing GTA and how this epitomized what modern games are like.
Not only did I feel as though the rug was pulled from beneath me at this point of the book, I also felt as if this was a book you would not want to give someone who was skeptical about games and gamer culture.
I understand Bissell prefaced the book with a statement about how much of the views expressed in the book would be personal, but Online live basketball games free felt this last story of his addiction should've been saved for another book that was focusing more on his life being a critic that wrote on games and not for a book where he's trying to prove that games are worth people's time.
I guess the bottom line of this review is, I didn't retain much of my experience of listening to this audiobook.
I feel as though I could have looked up gamasutra articles on the creators interviewed in the book and garnered about the football games online live amount of useful information as I did from reading Extra Game extra lives />I'm glad more varied books on games are coming out on the market, but I'm disappointed I couldn't have enjoyed this book or learned from it more.
An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important are An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important areas to look at.
The author talks about himself quite oft and in high horse terms.
Then in later segments he'll give out more detail about these claims, and his character falters significantly, and credibility with it.
Such as his time in the peace corps which turns out to be a few weeks till he packs it in because he can't hang with it.
Man, best to either not mention in the first place, or go ahead and let me think you actually made an effort to help the world.
Too, some of his descriptions of games generate questions of "did you even play this title?
Much better portions are snippets from industry pros.
He's got a wide click at this page from industry rebel, Johnathan Blow creator of Braid, to mundane "business something something" at Sony.
Going by what he is able to draw out of these folks, and what to distill unto us the reader, I wager the author is far better suited to interviews than critique.
The book does shine in the very last chapter, however, it's cringingly necessary to have read everything else to get the full weight.
We're talking about several pages supposedly devoted to the analysis of Grand Theft Auto as a series and focusing in on IV.
By far the best analysis in the entire book, but more interestingly is the odd story the author tells about his drug addictions.
Early in the book he talks about being an unashamed partaker of marijuana, but that's it nothing else!
However, as he cracks open GTA IV he describes his friend cuttin' several lines of coke.
European alley ways for his dealer to hopefully return a dose of the goods in https://agohome.ru/live/sun-and-moon-slots-my-live.html for all those wads of cash handed over.
Unfortunately, the author never really gets into his abuse issues, or directly confronts why his personality is flawed, weak, and he needs to do this tho he does hint heavily.
And this could have made for a far more interesting read.
But after finishing this final chapter the reader realizes the book was not so much about games, but the author's attempt to do some therapeutic talking to.
Many of his pompous personal claims are later pulled down, his strict drug policies are found to be anything but, he has security issues needing workt thru, but never brings himself to such; always skirting that bush, but breaking off several branches during the circlings.
A book less about games, and more about personal demons.
Fails at both, but encourage a re-write focusing on the latter.
Epilogue: Jacket design by Chip Kidd, basically the "it" man for 90's book designs.
His work here is shamelessy careless to the point of insult, and herein I agree.
The utter lack of care by such a talent speaks volume to the quality of the content, and seen live play online games such light.
It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video gaming habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video games.
For example, the blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Evil might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has pl It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video gaming habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video games.
For example, the blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Evil might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has played that game and especially that section of that game more times than he cares to admit, I found that there were very few actual insights in this chapter.
I recently listened to an interview with the author on the Brainy Gamer podcast.
The pre-defined audience of this podcast allowed him to go into a lot of detail regarding his thoughts on the relationship between cocaine and GTA IV, and I was left wondering why he couldn't have included these thoughts in the actual book he was promoting?
It would have made the book a lot more enjoyable.
In the end, I feel as if the author failed to show us 'why video games matter', but rather told us why video games matter to him - and even then only weakly.
For a more engaging and coherent argument on why video games matter, check out.
I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into that scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat rooms and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games tha I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into that scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat rooms and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games that I have for books.
So there's this whole evolution of gaming that sort of passed me by, and curiosity about what exactly was going on in those games kind of drew me to this book and I wasn't disappointed.
The author talks about all the different console games he has obsessed over and spent huge chunks of his life on, and in doing so brings about a very fascinating discussion of the elements of those games and what works and doesn't work.
I really enjoyed the whole analysis of "story" and why it is so difficult to incorporate it well into a game, and which games attempt it and fail and which games have broken new ground in that area.
He talks about the killing and the violence in a very matter-of-fact way which I guess if you've spent days and months killing people in-game you can get pretty matter-of-fact about it.
He pretty much bypasses discussing the Mario's and Donkey Kong games because those are mostly memorization; he discusses titles like Grand Theft Auto, and Left 4 Dead, and other various first person shooter games where you play a character that is more than an entity that hits bricks with their heads to get coins.
There's a lot of discussion about "agency"; the ability of the player to choose what happens next in a storyline as opposed to just "playing through the level" or from the beginning of the story to the end.
I wish I didn't have to read the last part, about where he loses himself inside cocaine addiction for awhile.
But in the end it totally makes sense because he admits that gaming, to him, was like cocaine and became inextricably tied up with cocaine, so that now when he replays the games they feel flat and lifeless because he isn't high.
The author also talks about his connections to certain game characters, especially Niko in Grand Theft Auto, and that to me was the most fascinating part of the book.
He connected less with the heroic, world-saving characters than he did with Niko, a misfit out-of-his-element guy trying to get a leg up and mostly not doing it very well.
After all, we can't imagine ourselves saving the world every day, but we sure can relate to making mistakes and haplessly stumbling through life.
This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
He talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about that you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
It was really refreshing to hear someone appreciate the world of games, the place they take you.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
He talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about that you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
It was really refreshing to hear someone appreciate the world of games, the place they take you.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets a little repetitive; describing every game 'beautiful and amazing'.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time waxing obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a remarkable, live play games online 3d think chunk of t "Extra Lives: Why Video Games Suck" At least, that's what this book should be called.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time waxing obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a sizable chunk of the book has nothing to do with why they matter.
Bissell constantly wanders off on self-indulgent treks through his own experiences playing games, including a painfully narcissistic retelling of heroically saving his teammates at the last possible moment in a round of Left 4 Dead.
These tales of gaming add nothing to his supposed "claim" that video games matter; they only recount moments that anyone who's played the game would recognize, while allowing himself to praise his own decisions and "analyze" them by comparing them to other games he's played.
He also includes, at the beginning of the second chapter, a massive retelling of the first few minutes of the original Resident Evil.
On my e-book copy, this retelling took up 23 of the chapter's 36 pages, with the rest mainly devoted to mocking its terrible dialogue.
Content aside, this book was painful to get through.
The author's prose reeks of a thesaurus, and includes such gems as: "I have already quoted some of the game's dialogue, which at its least weird sounds as though it has been translated out of Japanese, into Swahili, back into Japanese, into the language of the Lunar Federation, back into Japanese, and finally into English.
He also compares Silent Hill's poor voice acting to "autistic miscalculation" in choosing which words to stress in a sentence.
I could go on, but these two examples alone should make my point.
Finally, Bissell does a disservice to the medium as a whole by focusing on only two genres of games, one in particular: shooters are clearly his favorite, while platformers limp into second place with a single devoted chapter.
Resident Evil, Fallout, Grand Theft Auto, Far Cry, and Mass Effect each have a chapter to themselves, with Left 4 Dead taking a sizable chunk of a supposedly multi-game chapter.
Braid is the only non-shooter game to be given significant attention.
A single chapter is devoted to an interview with Braid's creator, Jonathan Blow, but focuses more on his views of the gaming industry as a whole than the game itself.
Another chapter is named Littlebigproblems, a clear play on the game LittleBigPlanet, but that game is only mentioned at the end of the chapter when Bissell laments how many awards it won.
By focusing so singularly on shooters, he excludes the vast majority of the medium, ignoring or only briefly mentioning such genres as puzzle, RPG, strategy, simulation, MMO, adventure, fighting, stealth, music, and casual games.
Many of his complaints, especially about supposedly lacking storytelling, figure differently into each genre, and it makes it seem like Bissell cherry-picked the specific games he examined to support his chief complaints.
Overall, this book was terrible.
I expected a look at why video games matter.
I received an essay on why video games are an artless, time-wasting medium, according to a man who sings nothing but weak complaints and his own praises.
I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book w I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book was 'Why Video Game extra lives Matter,' one critic had stated that the book more accurately described why video games matter to the author.
In fact, there are a number of reasons that video games are really important.
The author alludes to some of them.
Video games, especially first-person shooter games, are very popular among members of the military.
The video game industry is huge, rivaling other media, like movies.
Video games can be used to simulate a lot of different scenarios.
Video games are incredibly violent and encourage people to be violent or don't, I don't know.
So analyze those reasons.
Why are video games popular among the military or how please click for source video games help members of the military develop needed skills?
Or how do video games prevent members of the military from developing needed skills, if that's the case.
What we get instead is a retelling of some of the author's favorite game playing moments.
At times, we get a somewhat self-righteous account of why the author decided not to make a particular video game character take unnecessary violent actions since that would have violated the vision of the game developers.
Ultimately, instead of getting an explanation of why video games matter, I think we get a portrait of a life in which too much time was spent wasted playing video games and taking drugs, with one habit seeming to fuel the other.
The author seems to have been frequently more concerned with whether his female video game characters would consummate their relationships than whether he would consummate his own.
By the end, I was a bit depressed and actually felt like I disliked the author.
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's experience playing first person shooter style games that I don't play.
Where is the universality?
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's experience playing first person shooter style games that I don't play.
Where is the universality?
And where is any shred of an argument supporting the stated importance of video games?
The essays are super disjointed, as a result, there is zero flow in the book.
The chapters don't seem to have any relationship to one another except that they are all about video games.
And for an avid gaming enthusiast Bissell has a surprisingly uncomfortable relationship to his geekery.
But it was the blatant misogyny that ultimately cemented my dislike for Bissell.
In one particularly gross example he wanders into a video game developing company and confronts attractive women milling around.
He then wonders if the company has "expanded to include an escort service or modeling agency or both.
Oh and he also compares Vegas to a spent whore: "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
A lot of readers felt alienated by the chapter on Bissell's cocaine addiction.
I actually felt like it was one of the few times in the book where Bissell is in touch with his humanity and has something interesting to say.
To review Tom Bissell's latest work, it https://agohome.ru/live/premiership-games-live-on-us-tv-2019.html one must start off with a little personal background, so as not to be dismissed out-of-hand as an outsider.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
I personally have never gotten too excited about first-person shooters, but I do love a good story woven into my game.
At the outset of Extra Lives, it was apparent that the differences in my personal taste in games would not matter and that Bissell's own skill with narrative could transcend the fact that we will likely never cross paths in an online game forum.
The first few chapters of the work were excellently written: though I have never played Fallout 3 or Resident Evil, and have only fleeting acquaintance with Left for Dead, I was still transported and engaged.
I shared Bissell's frustration with the often teeth-grindingly-terrible dialog in games and was breathlessly beside him as he tiptoed his way past hordes of zombie minions in Left for Dead.
I found myself openly laughing at Bissell's wit and excited about his apparent insights into gaming.
Even while discussing fairly specific experiences, Bissell was speaking to the heart of gaming in general.
Bissell has clearly thought deeply about gaming; how it could be improved and how impactful it already is on even the casual gamer.
He repeatedly discusses his ideas on how gaming should be improved and how it can be elevated as an art form.
He makes the argument that games, rather uniquely as an art form, can achieve a level of interactivity that places the gamer in situations they would never encounter in life.
With such a strong base, I was hooked and excited to hear what Bissell had to say on this matter.
Unfortunately, as I progressed past the first third of the book, it seemed as though Bissell lost his way.
A good portion of this web page middle section of this book seemed more appropriate for a magazine game review and was just plain frustrating to anyone who has not specifically played the game in question.
I soldiered on anyway, kept from total madness by the occasional interviews that Bissell had with various game designers — all of which were excellent and revealing.
Armed with more information than I cared to know on the realistic pleas for mercy programmed into the computer characters within Far Cry 2, I approached the final chapter — wherein Bissell discusses his addiction to cocaine and we are assured completely unrelated addition to Grand Theft Auto IV.
All of the formidable powers of insight that Bissell displays in dissecting the minute flaws of story or gameplay vanish when he turns his gaze upon his own life.
The central problem of this book became apparent to me only once it was finished: Tom Bissell is far too personally involved with the games and gamer culture that he is reporting upon.
In his book Bissell approaches the edge of the most important and interesting questions facing the gaming industry and any self-aware gamer.
Having brought the reader to this vantage point, Bissell merely dances distractingly in place for hundreds of pages.
I agree with Bissell that it would be great to elevate the art of game design — making games more insightful, impactful and involving.
But the next obvious discussion following this is one of content.
Yet what does it mean that when Bissell and many other gamers are free to pursue these impulses, they are mostly destructive?
Why, among the dozens of blockbuster games that Bissell highlighted, were almost all of them exceptionally violent?
In a discussion of the meaning of games, why was there only fleeting reference to scientific studies suggesting games impact the user in significant ways?
Yet, in the very next chapter, Bissell gleefully recounts his in-game actions upon the citizens programmed in Grand Theft Auto IV; namely, finding thousands of clever and gruesome ways to massacre them.
I think many serious gamers myself included are conflicted in a similar manner; amazed at the power and imagination of games — yet a little frightened of the emotional sway those games can hold over them.
But surely in a book about the meaningfulness of games, a discussion on the broader impact of game content on their users is relevant?
Bissell is clearly an intelligent and usually insightful guy.
He speaks of what a powerful force gaming can be, what an influential force it has been in his life, then speaks of how he dreams of a future where such games are even more inspiring and engrossing.
Given his significant personal experience wrestling with the darker side of games in his life, the absence of any substantial discussion on the ethics surrounding game design is particularly glaring.
Unfortunately, he cowardly lets himself, and the entire gaming industry, off very lightly in this book.
Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew continue reading getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Circuit, and all of the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed t Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew was getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Circuit, and all of the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed to have—just like Reader Rabbit was the first, and for a long time the only, computer game permitted me.
Which is not to say I was omg horribly deprived or anything.
Just: I never developed an interest in video games, and I still don't have one—the only modern game I think I've played is Rock Band, and when I play that at parties I always try to position myself as the singer because I lack the hand-eye coordination to succeed at any of the instruments.
That's the price of a childhood without video games, right there.
Nevertheless, I was enthralled by Bissell's treatise on their cultural importance.
Like an extended version of 's fabulous essay on Saved By the Bell which I also wasn't allowed to watch—no cartoons, either fromBissell combines examples of what video games have meant to him with an exploration of what larger significance they have or might one day hope to achieve.
I may have even been at an advantage, having no idea what Bissell was talking about: I've seen some other reviewers complain that, for example, the long section where he takes the reader step-by-step, moment-by-moment through the opening of the first Resident Evil game is too much of a rehash if you've played it.
I haven't, and therefore I found it fascinating to experience this paradigm-shifting game along with Bissell's younger self.
Do I really need more ways to waste time?
I have the internet, thanks.
I know this sounds like circular logic, but: the stuff that matters matters.
I can has my sociology degree nao?
My copy came in at the library the same day I got the new Arcade Fire album, The Suburbs, and the two go beautifully together, both evoking this sense of isolation among sprawl and summoning up images of post-apocalyptic landscapes.
A theme in many video games—maybe I am missing out?
I haven't had two disparate works work so well together since the Christmas I was given both 's and Sarah McLachlan's Touch.
Ginger Series authors give us an entry into a world they enjoy, even adore, through sharing the story of their own romantic relationship with it.
Bissell takes this autobiographical approach much further.
His book criss-crosses between reportage, travelogue, love letter, and excoriating self confession, especially when it comes to his several years spent not writing he was the author of several books of fiction and a regular columnist for a number of magazinesplaying games in marathon-like sessions, and throwing cocaine up his nose: Soon I was sleeping in my clothes.
Soon my hair was stiff and fragrantly unclean.
Soon I was doing lines before my Estonian click, staying up for days, curating prodigious nose bleeds and spontaneously vomiting from exhaustion.
Soon my pillowcases bore rusty coins of nasal drippage.
Soon the only thing I could smell was something like the inside of an empty bottle of prescription medicine.
Soon my biweekly phone call to my cocaine dealer was a weekly phone call.
Soon I was walking into the night, handing hundreds of dollars in cash to a Russian man whose name I did not even know, waiting in alleys for him to come back — which he always did, though I never fully expected him to check this out and retreating home, to my Xbox, to GTA IV, to the electrifying solitude of my mind at play in an anarchic digital world.
Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of cocaine is one I loathe.
I do know that video games have enriched my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
They have also done damage to my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
I let this happen, of course; I even helped the process along.
As for cocaine, it has been a long time since I last did it, but not as long as I would like.
Bissell seems more performance and personality focused his interviews with figures in the game design world are a strength of the book that prevent it from becoming me-me-me-ishBarr somewhat more philosophical and reflective.
For Bissell, the writer, this concern is storytelling, and how video games are still weighted towards game play rather than narrative: This is one of the most suspect things about the game form.
However, he continues, in that essay he was trying to talk about the intelligence that distinguishes art works from everything else.
Intelligence, he says, can be expressed in all sorts of way; morally, formally, technically, stylistically, thematically, emotionally.
Masterpieces - the things we identify as wiping the table with their intelligence - are comprehensively intelligent; intelligent in all sorts of ways.
And they are generally the result of one unified vision, one single game.
Bissell is unsure: A noisy group of video-game critics and theoreticians laments the rise of story in games.
Tetris would be the best example of this sort of game.
My suspicion is that this lament comes less from frustration with story qua story than it does from the narrative butterfingers on outstanding display in the vast majority of contemporary video games.
I share that frustration.
I also love being the agent of chaos in the video game world.
What I want from games - a control as certain and seamless as the means by which I am being controlled - may be impossible, and I am back to where I began.
Bissell also observes that video games are different from other art forms in one very exact way: the player is just that - not a viewer or reader, but an active, decision-making participant.
His special interest - as a gamer, an academic, and increasingly the game creator - it is playing against the grain, exploring what the world offers, how far you can probe it.
online live bonuses happens if you walk away from your mission and instead decide to drive your car into a lake or watch a rabbit hop around your horse?
Drive for a while, and listen to a jazz station on the radio as you search for something new to do.
You carefully drive the lage garbage truck down leafy pathways, swerving to avoid pedestrians.
Looking for an amusing diversion, you drive into a lake and somehow manage to keep going with half the vehicle submerged.
The music becomes muted by the water, lending a muffled soundtrack to the already strange scene.
You drive like this for a while, tooting the horn at people walking next to the water.
They stop and star at the incongruous sight of a garbage truck driving in a lake in Central Park.
The idea that we can decide how we feel like relating to a video game is important, even revolutionary.
It means we are playing the game, not the other way around.
Playing a game can be seen as a kind of conversation with its designer.
Their answer comes in the way the game responds to your actions.
This was the point that really fired my imagination in the two books - and brought me circling back to the frustration Bissell feels.
The one exception might be the kinds of game that Barr clearly loves: simulations like The Sims, and the collaborative world-building game MInecraft.
It is the potential for collaborative play that really seems to thrill him: A big part of the excitement of playing a game with someone else is sharing a world with them.
Often this means teaming up to engage in mortal combat against others.
In Left 4 Dead, a zombie-based game, four players join forces to try and survive in various zombie-infested locations.
While battling zombies is entertaining on its own, having a friend rush to your side to dislodge a zombie and then give you medical aid can really get the adrenaline pumping … … There are few gaming experiences more immediately stunning than seeing another person run past you in the same virtual world.
The realisation that various game extra lives figures around you are, in reality, all people who are playing the same game, following the same rules, and sharing many of the same objectives as you is a paradigm shift.
With more space and a different remit, but to the same conclusion, Bissell also discusses Left 4 Dead.
For what more can one ask?
What more could one want?
I want to bring in a quote now from a recent post on.
In this post, Barr comes back to this point he and Bissell have been circling, this magical opportunity.
Perhaps one of the challenges for tragedy in video games is to jettison the notion that the player should always be the explicit author of their circumstances but instead as merely one part in a larger world which is not always impressed or even affected by their actions.
But both have opened my eyes, not just to the rich, deep, wide, silly, expensive, violent, harrowing and pluripotent world of video games, but also to the conversations that go on within it.
I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into c I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into console games, but I did have a 5+ year addiction to the MMORPG Runescape-- and while I look on those lost years very fondly, I don't consider them to be of any inherent value.
There are two main reasons my I personally don't think video games can justify their existence.
First is that they are an addictive time sink, with the corollary that the lost time takes away from not only more productive hobbies, but also things necessary for existence like an income to provide for yourself and healthy relationships.
The second is that many OK, not all, but quite a darn few including the entire genre of FPS games video games are extremely violent, and they treat violence very casually.
Just reading paragraph after paragraph in this book shows you how casually murder is treated in these things, and the author admitting multiple times that, well, you just kind of don't feel anything: At one point in Far Cry 2, I was running along the savanna when I was spotted by two militiamen.
I turned and shot, and, I thought, killed them both.
When I waded into the waist-deep grass to pick up their ammo, it transpired that one of the men was still alive.
He proceed to plug me with his sidearm.
Frantic, and low on health, I looked around, trying to find the groaning, dying man, but the grass was too dense.
I sprinted away, only to be hit by a few more of his potshots.
When I had put enough distance between us, I lobbed a Molotov cocktail into the general area where the supine, dying man lay.
Within seconds, I could hear him screaming amid the twiggly crackly of the grass catching fire.
Sitting before my television, I felt a kind of horridly unreciprocated intimacy with the man I had just burned to death.
If the video game references were taken out of this passage and you didn't know the context, this would be horrible.
But because it's a video game.
It's just flashes of pixelated light.
A third critique of video games that I thought of while reading the book was given in an article by Mormon apostle David A.
Bednar that I find philosophically interesting, even if it isn't the first reason that might come to your mind.
My heart aches when a young couple—sealed together in the house of the Lord for time and for all eternity by the power of the holy priesthood—experiences marital difficulties because of the addicting effect of excessive video gaming or online socializing.
A young man or woman may waste countless hours, postpone or forfeit vocational or academic achievement, and ultimately sacrifice cherished human relationships because of mind- and spirit-numbing video and online games.
Are you suggesting that video gaming and various types of computer-mediated communication can play a role in minimizing the importance of our physical bodies?
We live at a time when technology can be used to replicate reality, to augment reality, and to create virtual reality.
For example, a medical doctor can use software simulation to gain valuable experience performing a complicated surgical operation without ever putting a human patient at risk.
I'm pretty open about talking about my faith with other people, and I get quite a few curious inquiries.
This friend asked, "What do Mormons think of video games?
But Church leaders have given pretty stark warnings about video games, and many Mormon families are wary of them.
My family, for instance, had a no-video-game policy for our entire childhood, and we would only get to play them at friend's houses where the long arm of parental rules couldn't reach.
I myself made it to adulthood feeling the better for it, and am glad I escaped childhood relatively unscathed.
Funny enough though, this book doesn't purport to be an exercise in video game apologetics.
It doesn't provide a cohesive argument, and even readily admits the dark side of video games.
Tom Bissell gives a disclaimer at the beginning that the book rather seeks to express "one man's opinions and thoughts on what playing games feels like, why he plays them, and the questions they make him think about.
Some of my favorite passages include this explanation of why the best games are the ones that don't try to explain too much: For many gamers and by all evidence, game designersstory is largely a matter of accumulation.
The more explanation there is, the thought appears to go, the more story has to be generated.
This would be a profound misunderstanding of story for any form of narrative art, but it has hobbled the otherwise high creative achievement of any number of games.
Frequently in works with any degree of genre loyalty-- this would include a vast majority of video games-- the more explicit the story becomes, the more silly it suddenly will seem.
Let us call this the Midi-chlorian Error.
The best science fiction is usually densely realistic in quotidian detail but evocatively vague about the bigger questions.
Tolkien is all but ruined for me whenever I make the mistake of perusing the Anglo-Saxon Talmudisms of his various appendices: "Among the Source the Alphabet of Daeron did not develop true cursive forms"-- kill me, please now-- "since for writing the Elves adopted the Faenorian letters.
The impulse to explain is the Achilles' heel of all genre work, and the most sophisticated artists within every genre know better than to expose their worlds to the sharp knife of intellection.
Super Mario requires an ability to recognize patterns, considerable hand-eye coordination, and quick reflexes.
Gears requires the ability to think tactically and make subtle judgments based on scant information, a constant awareness of multiple variables ammunition stores, enemy weaknesses as they change throughout the game, and the spatial sensitivity to control one's movement through a space in which the "right" direction is not always apparent.
Anyone who plays modern games such as Gears does not so much learn the rules as develop a kind of intuition for how the game operates.
Often, there is no single way to accomplish a given task; improvisation is rewarded.
Older games, like Super Mario, punish improvisation; You live or die according to their algebra alone.
As someone who attempts to write what is politely known as literary fiction, I am confident in this assertion.
For me, stories break the surface in the form of image or character or situation.
I start with the variables, not the system.
This is intended neither to ennoble my way of working nor denigrate the game designer; it is to acknowledge the very different formal constraints game designers have to struggle with.
While I may wonder if a certain story idea will "work", this would be a differently approached and much, much less subjective question if I were a game designer.
A game that does not work will, literally, not function.
There is, it should be said, another side to the game-designer mind-set: No matter how famous or well known, most designers are happy to talk about how their games failed in certain areas, and they will even explain why.
Not in my life have I encountered a writer with a blood-alcohol content below.
There were some detracting elements, including his pretty foul mouth and a few jabs at religious folk I found in poor taste.
And while I enjoyed quite a bit of the book, the last chapter kind of ruined it.
It's literally a play by play of him doing nothing but playing video games while getting high on weed and cocaine.
Any aesthetic appreciation for the genre of video games kind of left at that point.
Listen to this summary by the author of pretty much why both video games and cocaine are bad for you-- and also a kind of existential crisis: Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude, and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of cocaine is one I loathe and distrust.
For every moment of transcendence there is a moment in the gutter.
For all its emotional violence there are long periods of quiet and calm.
Something bombardingly strange or new is always happening.
You constantly find things, constantly learn things, constantly see things you could not have imagined.
When you are away from it, you long for its dark and narrow energies.
But am I talking about video games or cocaine?.
So what have games given me?
Not surrogate experiences, but actual experiences, many of which are as important to me as any real memories.
Once I wanted games to show me things I could not see in any other medium.
Then I wanted games to tell me a story in a way no other medium can.
Then I wanted games to redeem something absent in myself.
Then I wanted a game experience that points not toward something, but at something.
Playing GTA IV on coke for weeks and then months at a time, I learned that maybe all a game can do is point at the person who is playing it, and maybe this has to be enough.
There is some absolutely beautiful prose here.
Bissell is very gifted, and this book is worth reading whether you like video games or despise them.
If anything, it at least helped me appreciate the appeal that video games have for some people.
This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Bissell really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Bissell really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is essentially a land mine.
Say the wrong thing or have the wrong opinions and your critics and the trolls will be on you faster than a speeding bullet, and it's possible my opinions here are a case in point.
Certain passages are described perfectly and with such attention to detail I knew exactly what he was talking about.
Bissell's descriptions of Left 4 Dead, for example, were spot on; he flawlessly captured the intensity and the rush of adrenaline when you hear the ominous sound that signals a horde is approaching.
Likewise, his retelling of the opening sequence of Resident Evil 2 strikes as much fear and anxiety as an actual playthrough.
In those limited cases, Bissell is a magician and he deserves three stars.
On the other hand, Bissell had his chance at a soapbox, and this is mine.
You can't claim to be a champion of games or claim to be spearheading the movement to validate games as art click to see more brushing off historic, iconic games that have been universally accepted as some of the best games ever, period.
Bissell likes to praise games that come with great story, but he skims over Ocarina of Time as something that lacks "imagination" and despite being over forty hours long in a complete playthrough, it is "somehow too small.
Anything from racecars to shooters are possible, but Bissell doesn't care for that unless he's racing against police in GTA or shooting zombies.
The latter half of the book is focused on games that really don't have an ending.
Games like Mass Effect and Fry Cry and Grand Theft Auto, although they do have an ending in the script, rarely see players actually reaching any level of completion.
In addition to zombies and monsters, Bissell has a great fondness for games that let him wander around aimlessly to do whatever he wants.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with liking the open world genre of games.
But when he comes out and says "OPEN WORLD GAMES A+++" and then turns around to say "World of Warcraft??
I have no doubt Bissell has played his fair share of games, and in the end this isn't a one star review because in the end this is just an opinion piece, and I can't fault him too much for having an opinion.
I agree with a few of his points, but just the ones where he praises the games he likes.
The times when he only briefly mentions a legendary game and tosses it aside as "not good enough," I can't agree.
Two stars, maybe one.
Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows this is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, af Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows this is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, after all.
It's the reader of exceeding eclecticism that can digest all of his allusions to Epic Games, Nabokov, John le Carre, BraidCutting Crew, and David Foster Wallace a mere iceberg tip.
Every chapter is filled with fascinating interviews with adults who aren't just cynical suits piloting moneygrabbing corporations, but instead a smattering of brilliant and groundbreaking individuals who https://agohome.ru/live/bravo-poker-live-game-report.html to take gaming to an experiential height that we can't yet imagine, finances be damned.
Along these chapters, Bissell recounts the games that morphed him into something other than himself, a feeling to which we might relate.
Perhaps we snap at our girlfriends' temerity of a goodbye kiss during Demon's Souls i.
Mayhaps we ignore our supposedly highbrow pursuits.
Or simply lament the inordinate amount of time we have spent gaming.
Bissell readily admits to 200+hrs playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivionsomething to which I can entirely relate 120+ playing Dragon Age: Origins and ~150 hrs so far with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Are we doing anything worthwhile with these hours?
I would submit that Thomsen only partially gets the point in his critique of the 100+hour game.
The gaming journeys he criticizes in the epics of modern RPGs aren't important to gamers because of what has actually been accomplished breaking boxes, amassing virtual currency, having polygonal polyamory, or drubbing enemies with increasingly cool magic.
It's actually immaterial if the activity is repetitive, irrelevant, or goofy, and boy are some of them goofy.
Gaming matters to me, at least today, because it gives me a buzz.
Demon's Souls gives me literal goosebumps and can cause a literal rage.
The SNES's Final Fantasy III made me weep.
Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City made the capable author Tom Bissell disappear into another world, and be thankful for the opportunity.
If video games don't do anything for you, you most certainly should not be playing.
But as long as they do, you should never stop.
EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is how upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peri This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is how upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peripheral things they do.
Bissell holds the line, and it serves him really well here.
I don't think that the book lives up to the subtitle, why games matter.
The conceit of the title, extra lives, really dolphins game live comes up in the first essay, though it's a really solid idea-- that these games really do allow us to explore ourselves in a new context.
But in the end, this remains a very personal, if approachable, take on video games.
It's a lot like Doug Wolk's Reading Comics, though I might like this one a little more that might be because I don't have opinions about games the way I do about comics, so I talked back to this book less than I did Wolk's.
But I also felt its inquiries were more sustained and developed a core concern.
I'm still not sure what to make of the final chapter, a kind of throw everything at the wall chapter that introduces Bissell's cocaine use pretty explicitly, in terms I don't know how to process-- it almost makes the book, opening up to us a useful parallel to what Bissell gets out of games v.
But I feel like parts of it are a little too swept under the rug or raced past.
It's good, and I'd read more, without a doubt.
So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", which I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the history of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this bo So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", which I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the history of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this book as an analyst of industry fortunes a topic about which I could not imagine caring less or as a chronicler of how games rose and came to be, and my understanding of the technical side of game design is nil.
In the portions of the book where I address game design and game designers, it is, I hope, to a formally explanatory rather than technically informative end.
In fact, the book almost exclusively focuses on "story" or "narrative" games, a genre which I've never really played much.
To make matters worse, the "Little Big Problems" chapter was really about the uncanny valley, and only mentions Little Big Planet in passing.
At the end, the book takes an odd turn and becomes a confessional about the author's drug use, and leaves me a bit confused about the overall purpose of the book.
Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually have had an engrossing, good time, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - h Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually have had an engrossing, good time, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - he is really much more interested in the question which he explores at some depth and really seems on the fence about.
In any event this is a very well written book, large parts of which are about read article places I used to work BioWare and Ubisoft and I definitely recognize them in his prose though he was a little to soft on BioWare's writing.
His style and vocabulary are very engaging, but above all I was drawn to his honesty.
He confesses a lot about himself in this book which lends credibility to his insights and judgements about the games themselves.
As a writer he is mostly interested in narrative in video games and the conflict that has with allowing players to construct their own.
This is download game best book about video games I've read.
I didn't come away feeling like he'd made a solid point, but I did feel like he'd explored the problem s well enough to really know what he's talking about.
Extra Lives is essentially an argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are big releases that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a per Extra Lives is essentially an argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are big releases that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a person who plays video games, I feel like he is just preaching to the choir, but I can understand that he may be reaching out to his wider readership, the people who got into him through Chasing please click for source Sea or God Lives in St.
Petersburg or whatever he writes on Grantland, and I think he does a pretty good job of this.
People who like games will probably only be interested in some of the behind the scenes details of how companies like Ubisoft and Bioware work, but for the uninitiated, the details of Bissel's personal experiences with games and the argument that they invoke such personal experiences may make them want to explore the medium more.
Also, I think he implies that he left Ashley in Mass Effect to die in Virmire because she expressed some anti-alien sentiments.
It's really weird how many people I've talked to used this as the key detail in making that decision.
I chose to leave Kaidan because he is just Carth and I don't want to deal with Carth in another Bioware game.
I was generally entertained by this exploration of one player's life in games and what they mean to him.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly as compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly link compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Commodore 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
We have the distinction of being the first generation of humanity to spend The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Commodore 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
What this tidy statistic ignores, however, is how ambivalent most of us are about it.
I suppose this is what Tom Bissell is getting at with his badly mislabelled Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
I suppose what he means is something more like Extra Sighs: Why Video Games Matter to Anxious Thirty-Somethings Who Wrestle with the Suspicion That They're Wasting Their Time.
But there is much that I recognize in Bissell, not just for myself but for the other 35 year olds who still play video games when they can but do it with the sort of furtive and vaguely apologetic solitude generally reserved for masturbation.
Ours is not just the first generation to spend our whole lives with video games as a going concern but also likely the last to think of video games as weird.
With internet dating, we were the ones who suffered through the awkward phase of okcupid and match.
So it is with video games, a hobby in which we invested heavily only to see that investment mature at precisely the moment when we finally became too busy, too gray and too uncool to retain our position as the vanguards of the movement.
The kids will have more fun and play better video games than we did, and will be yet more likely to enjoy them openly and without cultural baggage and play them with their girlfriends!
Each generation is doomed to calcify against the innovations of the ones that follow, and we just happened to fall on the wrong side of the cut-off.
Video games are embarrassing.
Video games are often visually and sonically beautiful, and are almost always triumphs of engineering and design, but they remain stubbornly remedial in most aspects of plot, narrative and message, a crippling deficiency for a medium which seeks above all to ape the basic structures of the cinematic.
Playing video games is fun, but a fun that frequently fails to withstand scrutiny.
And while the often lazy sexism of videogames is their most presently infamous shortcoming, the absence of a capacity for meaningful dialogue and story, even in the best games, is arguably more corrosive.
For gamers of a certain age - which is to say, his age - this book is a marvelous compendium of shared experience.
On that level, this is a gutsy book to write because of its heavy potential for immediate obsolescence.
Every one of the titles I just mentioned has spawned a sequel in the few years since Bissell wrote Extra Lives, and while his observations are often prophetic, much of what he has to say fixates too much on the compelling questions of that particular moment, most of which are already long buried.
His breathless exhumation of the specifics of the invention of the cover system within the first person shooter, for example, is already more a study in how quickly the innovative becomes familiar than an article worth more than purely historical interest.
Bissell writes in three essential modes: The first is an analysis of the narrative incoherence of videogames, and this he does well, repeatedly teasing out the dissonant aspects of the recognized classics without diminishing their importance.
The second operates as a memoir - his life seen through videogames, culminating in a largely self-destructive collision of Grand Theft Auto and cocaine which nearly ended his career as a writer.
The last, and least successful, are his forays into videogame journalism, which are often fan-boyish interviews with personalities already familiar to the gaming community and mostly dulling to everyone else.
In the end, not enough time is actually spent on why video games do matter to take this book out of the category of personal memoir and into something more important.
They're only getting better.
I look forward to watching my kids enjoy them while I do the dishes.
Some cool essays about video games, characterization, and why some are more entertaining than others.
I didn't need the tedious info on gaming design conventions or the author's old cocaine habit.
Didn't answer the "why video games matter" of the title, but if you have even a passing interest in video games you full games download pc free live for be interested in the opinions here.
ReedIII Quick Review: Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
Are video games both art and entertainment?
This very personal book link actually answers the questions proposed or promoted in the title.
However the book does give gamers and non-gamers good ways to view games in general and some games specifically.
Tom Bissell born 1974 is a journalist, critic, and fiction writer.
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
We arundel mills casino live, in effect, admitting that we like to spend our time shooting monsters, and They are, not unreasonably, failing to find the value in that.
Stories are about time passing and narrative progression.
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Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter: Tom Bissell: 9780307474315: agohome.ru: Books
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Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Extra Lives is an impassioned defense of this assailed and misunderstood art form.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is like no other book on the subject ever published.
Whether you love video games, loathe video games, or are merely curious about why they are becoming the dominant popular art form of our time, Extra Lives is required reading.
The title of this book is Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
Yet, all of these are interesting accounts of his experiences in and impressions of the games while none of them indicate why the games might matter.
He is even more condescending when it comes to game writing predominantly speaking of dialogue and the game press.
There is a theme of the frustrated, would-be game writer that runs through the book.
My favorite quotation in the book is when Bissell describes the evolution of video game graphics.
Are, developmentally speaking, cave paintings, whereas Tempest and Pac-Man are something like modernism, albeit a modernism of necessity.
Within the evolution of video games, no naturalistic stage between the primitivism of Pong and the modernism of Tempest was possible due to the technological limitations to which game designers were subject.
About the center of the book, Bissell admits that video games have improved on almost every level—aesthetic, characterization, dialogue, and emotional appeal—but insists that games started at a degree of minus efficacy pp.
That is why I cannot recommend what could have been an important book.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extr I'm a gamer, plain and simple.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extra Lives attempts to touch upon this question as well as analyze the media's strengths and weaknesses in character design, narrative, etc.
The writing is very analytical and intellectual, giving me flashbacks at times to my days as an English Major, reading through literary journals for paper ideas.
The book does a great job of introducing concepts to readers who have not played alot of games, so anyone interested in the topic can walk away with something, regardless of background knowlegde.
But what I think I was most impressed with is Bissell's ability to help me look at games I have played in a brand game extra lives way.
Many of the games he discussed in the book I have played, and he brings up so many fascinating questions that have really changed how I look at some of the experiences.
In the end, I am really glad that I read this book and am glad that books like this are simply out there.
Video games are really the weird kid in the class when it comes to respected medias and it really shouldn't be the case.
Just like there are mindless movies and mindless books, there are, ofcourse, mindless games.
But also just like books and movies and music, there are real things that can be taken away from video games.
Because it's still a relatively new media, this idea really isn't understood by the masses.
But as the gamers of old become adults and the media continues to become more widespread, I think a time will come where a conversation about Animal Game extra lives will be just as respected as a conversation about Bioshock.
And it will come thanks to books that point out the importance of the media, just like Bissell's extra lives.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not that book.
The bulls game live is more than a little misleading.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not that book.
The title is more than a little misleading.
More often than not, this hinges on the writing in the games — the subtext of which seems to be that the author believes games would be a whole lot better if the industry employed more people like him.
Bissell gives the impression that he thinks rather highly of himself, and finds many opportunities to remind the reader of his accomplishments, in-game or otherwise.
The result of all of this, unfortunately, is that the book is an infuriating mess.
Bissell is so self-satisfied, his writing so masturbatory, that I found myself actively disliking him not far into the book — and it only gets worse with each subsequent chapter.
Now, I like video games, believe you me — but reading about why he played his Mass Effect character the way he did, or his description of playing Resident Evil for the first time, is painfully boring.
As I alluded to earlier, I really wanted to like this book.
Suggested alternate title: Tom Bissell Presents The Tom Bissell Story In Which Video Games are Played Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
But I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
The Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
But I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
premiership games live on us tv 2019 simply isn't time for everything, and if I want to finish even the meager number of books I need to read for work, something has to go.
Video games were what went.
I was never much of a gamer anyway.
I gravitated towards sports games, for one thing.
I had a long, meaningful relationship with the Indianapolis Colts of Madden 98, which I played on an old Nintendo system I had dug out of my parents' basement.
I'd get home from work late at night, drink a six-pack of domestic beer, and command my team of pixelated men to victory after victory.
These were the nights when I didn't listen to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks over and over again.
There were a few years there where I didn't get laid a lot.
Tom Bissell's Extra Lives sort of makes me want to carve out some time for video games.
Well, it makes me wish I had the time to carve out.
Bissell traces the evolution of games from Resident Evil up through Grand Theft Auto IV, and in the process asks many difficult questions about games and, indeed, art itself.
Can a video game have a story that matches the narrative complexity of a great novel?
Can it go beyond that?
What are the implications of playing a video game in which your character participates in atrocity after atrocity?
The days have arrived when we can talk about video games alongside books and films as great works of narrative art.
This is the first book, to my knowledge, to do so.
I suspect this book would be even more engaging for someone with a passing knowledge of the games he discusses -- Fall Out, Mass Effect, Bio Shock, Far Cry 2, etc.
Bissell's brain is pretty incredible, though, and his sharp, toothy prose fun words Bissell uses include 'sororus' and 'ludonarrative' and perspective was enough to keep this non-gamer turning the pages.
I was enjoying the book until its final chapter, about Grand Theft Auto IV, and Bissell's concurrent decent into cocaine use.
That chapter took the book from a great work of criticism to something more, something higher.
Recommended for anyone with an interest in gaming, narrative, art, or criticism.
I enjoyed reading this book despite the glaring "literariness" of the writing.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
To view it, The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enrich your narrative, adding a personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being kind of annoying.
Unfortunately, Tom Bissell's Most Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the questi The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enrich your narrative, adding a personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being kind of annoying.
Unfortunately, Tom Bissell's Click Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the question asked in the subtitle of this book, "Why video games matter," he instead takes the reader on an occasionally drug-laced trip through why he likes video games.
Along the way he peppers in references to the fact that he's single and can't hold a relationship, he's traveled all over the world, and totally randomly he was addicted to cocaine while he played through Grand Theft Auto IV who knows how many times.
That book could have been good, but this book as it is is trying too hard.
It's part that, and partartsy-fartsy commentary on video games and how they make us er, Tom Bissell think about violence and character and story.
It's the latter that I liked the best despite it occasionally being extremely heavy-handed and smug.
I don't think Far Cry 2 is some kind of amazingly well-crafted love letter to violence and escapism and man's inhumanity to man, and I don't think the people who made the Grand Theft Auto games are making particularly clever statements when they put a coffee cup in the Statue of Liberty's hand or call Metlife Getalife.
I would say it is really very difficult for a game that has dozens of people working on it to come together to create something as artistic as Tom Bissell thinks video games are.
I do love video games.
Video games brought me some fond memories: playing rented games on my dad's Xbox, obsessing over the winding plot of Tales of Symphonia with my then-boyfriend in my college dorm, beating Castlevania: Curse of Darkness with my little brother, and more.
But I don't think that talking about them the way Tom Bissell does is going to advance them in anyone's mind quite yet.
Yes, some people are devoted to games the way they devote themselves to any true artistic measure.
The indie games on the PlayStation Network, WiiWare and XBox Live attest to that.
But I don't think you can put a game churned out by a big company up on a pedestal.
I'll put Mass Effect right up there with all the love Tom gives it.
Even if he europa league games scores Shepard totally wrong.
Up there I said the trip through this book is "occasionally drug-laced," but I think that's the wrong choice of words.
Drugs are only mentioned in the very last chapter, which is why it seems so random once he starts to wax poetic about cocaine.
He tries to tie his journey through Grand Theft Auto IV to his cocaine addiction, and it just falls flat.
You cannot yet compare a video game to real life.
He just comes across as a total loser in that chapter and it was a really awkward way to end the book.
I'm waiting for a really good book on this topic.
One of the most consistent criticisms I see in other negative reviews of this book is that Tom Bissell's tone is puzzlingly ambivalent.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the only take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the only take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
In fact, more than a month after having listened to the audiobook, I don't feel that his argument was very enlightening at all.
If anything, it made me feel rather pessimistic and uninspired about the next generation of games, and I don't think that was the intended aim of the book.
I really wanted to like this book.
I love the idea of discussing how we could improve games and particularly narrative-driven games.
Yet the only sections of the book that I found worthwhile, were the parts click to see more focused on veteran game designers' POVs and not the author's.
His interviews with Cliff Bleszinski Gears of WarJohnathan Blow Braidand Peter Molyneux Fable to name a few were the most informative on the attitudes and trends of the current video game industry towards designing narrative-driven games, and what designing games is like today vs.
Another problem I had with this book had to do with the author's strange tone of voice.
At numerous points of the audiobook I felt as if the author was talking to a predominately male audience.
I found this alienating, as it felt as if I was overhearing his argument from an exclusive group huddle.
Weird seeing as he started out the book targeting an audience of critics who may not have much experience with videogames.
Even weirder seeing as over 40% of the gamer crowd is female.
That's not to say I was expecting to read a book that absolutely represented every single gamer that would be a little unrealistic and unfairbut I at least expected to read a book with a bit more of a neutral voice.
Some quotes I actually had to write down or make mental notes of to insert into this review because they struck me as not only awkward, but sometimes offensive in a "too-much-information" way.
Such as Bissell's musing over how he "liked the corporate diligence the upper-tier prostitutes worked the casino bars" in Las Vegas why do I care?
Despite dedicating the book to his two nieces, who he often plays games with, I found Bissell's tone odd and often disconcerting.
I also found it strange that almost every game he chose to talk about, was a game that was not very story-driven at all, or games that were influential, but not very useful to his argument.
For instance, that he spends almost a quarter of the book talking about Farcry and footnotes Shadow of the Colossus and Metal Gear Solid seemed a very odd choice for his arguments that games can tell meaningful stories and have successful game mechanics as well.
It's true that you can't include everything in a survey of the video games industry for critics, but I felt as if he'd missed out on some opportunities to discuss games like Metal Gear Solid, that work with many different forms of media for game design inspiration.
Perhaps what took up the space he could've used to discuss some of the games he footnoted, was his sudden switch into autobiography at the tail-end of the book, when he details a cocaine addiction that he suffered while playing GTA and how this epitomized what modern games are like.
Not only did I feel as though the rug was pulled from beneath me at this point of the book, I also felt as if this was a book you would not want to give someone who was skeptical about games and gamer culture.
I understand Bissell prefaced the book with a statement about how much of the views expressed in the book would be personal, but I felt this last story of his addiction should've been saved for another book that was focusing more on his life being a critic that wrote on games and not for a book where he's trying to prove that games are worth people's time.
I guess the bottom line of this review is, I didn't retain much of my experience of listening to this audiobook.
I feel as though I could have looked up gamasutra articles on the creators interviewed in the book and garnered about the same amount of here information as I did from reading Extra Lives.
I'm glad more varied books on games are coming out on the market, but I'm disappointed I couldn't have enjoyed this book or learned from it more.
An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important are An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important areas to look at.
The author talks about himself quite oft and in high horse terms.
Then in later segments he'll give out more detail about these claims, and his character falters significantly, and credibility with it.
Such as his time in the peace corps which turns out to be a few weeks till he packs it in because he can't hang with it.
Man, best to either not mention in the first place, or go ahead and let me think you actually made an effort to help the world.
Too, some of his descriptions of games generate questions of "did you even play this title?
Much better portions are snippets from industry pros.
He's got a wide range from industry rebel, Johnathan Blow creator of Braid, to mundane "business something something" at Sony.
Going by what he is able to draw out of these folks, and what to distill unto us the reader, I wager the author is far better suited to interviews than critique.
The book does shine in the very last chapter, however, it's cringingly necessary to have read everything else to get the full weight.
We're talking about several pages supposedly devoted to the analysis of Grand Theft Auto as a series and focusing in on IV.
By far the best analysis in the entire book, but more interestingly is the odd story the author tells about his drug addictions.
Early in the book he talks about being an unashamed partaker of marijuana, but that's it nothing else!
However, as he cracks open GTA IV he describes his friend cuttin' several lines of coke.
European alley ways for his dealer to hopefully return a dose of the goods in exchange for all those wads of cash handed over.
Unfortunately, the author never really gets into his abuse issues, or directly confronts why his personality is flawed, weak, and he needs to do this tho he does hint heavily.
And this could have made for a far more interesting read.
But after finishing this final chapter the reader realizes the book was not so much about games, but the author's attempt to do some therapeutic talking to.
Many of his pompous personal claims are later pulled down, his strict drug policies are found to be anything but, he has security issues needing workt thru, but never brings himself to such; always skirting that bush, but breaking off several branches during the circlings.
A book less about games, and more about personal demons.
Fails at both, but encourage a re-write focusing on the latter.
Epilogue: Jacket design by Chip Kidd, basically the "it" man for 90's book designs.
His work here is shamelessy careless to the point of insult, and herein I agree.
The utter lack of care by such a talent speaks volume to the quality of the content, and seen in such light.
It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video gaming habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video games.
For example, the blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Evil might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has pl It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video gaming habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video games.
For example, the blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Evil might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has played that game and especially that section of that game more times than he cares to admit, I found that there were very few actual insights in this chapter.
I recently listened to an interview with the author on the Brainy Gamer podcast.
The pre-defined audience of this podcast allowed him to go into a lot of detail regarding his thoughts on the relationship between cocaine and GTA IV, and I was left wondering why he couldn't have included these thoughts in the actual book he was promoting?
It would have made the book a lot more enjoyable.
In the end, I feel as if the author failed to show us 'why video games matter', but rather told us why video games matter to him - and even then only weakly.
For a more engaging and coherent argument on why video games matter, check out.
I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into that scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat game extra lives and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games tha I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into that scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat rooms and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games that I have for books.
So there's this whole evolution of gaming that sort of passed me by, and curiosity about what exactly was going on in those games kind of drew me to this book and I wasn't disappointed.
The author talks about all the different console games he has obsessed over and spent huge chunks of his life on, and in doing so brings about a very fascinating discussion of the elements of those games and what works and doesn't work.
I really enjoyed the whole analysis of "story" and why it is so difficult to incorporate it well into a game, and which games attempt it and fail and which games have broken new ground in that area.
He talks about the killing and the violence in a very matter-of-fact way which I guess if you've spent days and months killing people in-game you can get pretty matter-of-fact about it.
He pretty much bypasses discussing the Mario's and Donkey Kong games because those are mostly memorization; he discusses titles like Grand Theft Auto, and Left 4 Dead, and other various first person shooter games where you play a character that is more than an entity that hits bricks with their heads to get coins.
There's a lot of discussion about "agency"; the ability of the player to choose what happens next in a storyline as opposed to just "playing through the level" or from the beginning of the story to the end.
I wish I didn't have to read the last part, about where he loses himself inside cocaine addiction for awhile.
But in the end it totally makes sense because he admits that gaming, to him, was like cocaine and became inextricably tied up with cocaine, so that now when he replays the games they feel flat and lifeless because he isn't high.
The author also talks about his connections to certain game characters, especially Niko in Grand Theft Auto, and that to me was the most fascinating part of the book.
He connected less with the heroic, world-saving characters than he did with Niko, a misfit out-of-his-element guy trying to get a leg up and mostly not doing it very well.
After all, we can't imagine ourselves saving the world every day, but we sure can relate to making mistakes and haplessly stumbling through life.
This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
He talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about that you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
It was really refreshing to hear someone appreciate the world of games, the place they take you.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
He talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about that you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets a little repetitive; games live play online every game 'beautiful and amazing'.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time game extra lives obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a sizable chunk of t "Extra Lives: Why Video Games Suck" At least, that's what this book should be called.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time waxing obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a sizable chunk of the book has nothing to do with why they matter.
Bissell constantly wanders off on self-indulgent treks through his own experiences playing games, including a painfully narcissistic retelling of heroically saving his teammates at this web page last possible moment in a round of Left 4 Dead.
These tales of gaming add nothing to his supposed "claim" that video games matter; they only recount moments that anyone who's played the game would recognize, while allowing himself to praise his own decisions and "analyze" them by comparing them to other games he's played.
He also includes, at the beginning of the second chapter, a massive retelling of the first few minutes of the original Resident Evil.
On my e-book copy, this retelling took up 23 of the chapter's 36 pages, with the rest mainly devoted to mocking its terrible dialogue.
Content aside, this book was painful to get through.
The author's prose reeks of a thesaurus, and includes such gems as: "I have already quoted some of the game's dialogue, which at its least weird sounds as though it has been translated out of Japanese, into Swahili, back into Japanese, into the language of the Lunar Federation, back into Japanese, and finally into English.
He also compares Silent Hill's poor voice acting to "autistic miscalculation" in choosing which words to stress in tomorrow games scores live sentence.
I could go on, but these two examples alone should make my point.
Finally, Bissell does a disservice to the medium as a whole by focusing on only two genres of games, one in particular: shooters are clearly his favorite, while platformers limp into second place with a single devoted chapter.
Resident Evil, Fallout, Grand Theft Auto, Far Cry, and Mass Effect each have a chapter to themselves, with Left 4 Dead taking a sizable chunk of a supposedly multi-game chapter.
Braid is the only non-shooter game to be given significant attention.
A single https://agohome.ru/live/dewavegas-live-online-casino.html is devoted to an interview with Braid's creator, Jonathan Blow, but focuses more on his views of the gaming industry as a whole than the game itself.
Another chapter is named Littlebigproblems, a clear play on the game LittleBigPlanet, but that game is only mentioned at the end of the chapter when Bissell laments how many awards it won.
By focusing so singularly on shooters, he excludes the vast majority of the medium, ignoring or only briefly mentioning such genres as puzzle, RPG, strategy, simulation, MMO, adventure, fighting, stealth, music, and casual games.
Many here his complaints, especially about supposedly lacking storytelling, figure differently into each genre, and it makes it seem like Bissell cherry-picked the specific games he examined to support his chief complaints.
Overall, this book was terrible.
I expected a look at why video games matter.
I received an essay on why video games are an artless, time-wasting medium, according to a man who sings nothing but weak complaints and his own praises.
I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book w I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book was 'Why Video Games Matter,' one critic had stated that the book more accurately described why video games matter to the author.
In fact, there are a number of reasons that video games are really important.
The author alludes to some of them.
Video games, especially first-person shooter games, are very popular among members of the military.
The video game industry is huge, rivaling other media, like movies.
Video games can be used to simulate a lot of different scenarios.
Video games are incredibly violent and encourage people to be violent or don't, I don't know.
So analyze those reasons.
Why are video games popular among the military or how do video games help members of the military develop needed skills?
Or how do video games prevent members of the military from developing needed skills, if that's the case.
What we get instead is a retelling of some of the author's favorite game playing moments.
At times, we get a somewhat self-righteous account of why the author decided not to make a particular video game character take unnecessary violent actions since that would have violated the vision of the game developers.
Ultimately, instead of getting an explanation of why video games matter, I think we get a portrait of a life in which too much time was spent wasted playing video games and taking drugs, with one habit seeming to fuel the other.
The author seems to have been frequently more concerned with whether his female video game characters would consummate their relationships than whether he would consummate his own.
By the end, I was a bit depressed and actually felt like I disliked the author.
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's experience playing first person shooter style games that I don't play.
Where is the universality?
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's game extra lives playing first person shooter style games that I don't play.
Where is the universality?
And where is any shred of an argument supporting the stated importance of video games?
The essays are super disjointed, as a result, there is zero flow in the book.
The chapters don't seem to have any relationship to one another except that they are all about video games.
And for an avid gaming enthusiast Bissell has a surprisingly uncomfortable relationship to his geekery.
But it was the blatant misogyny that ultimately cemented my dislike for Bissell.
In one particularly gross example he wanders into a video game developing company and confronts attractive women milling around.
He then wonders if the company has "expanded to include an escort service or modeling agency or both.
Oh and he also compares Vegas to a spent whore: "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
A lot of readers felt alienated by the chapter on Bissell's cocaine addiction.
I actually felt like it was one of the few times in the book where Bissell is in touch with his humanity and has something interesting to say.
To review Tom Bissell's latest work, it seems one must start off with a little personal background, so as not to be dismissed out-of-hand as an outsider.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
I personally have never gotten too excited about first-person shooters, but I do love a good story woven into my game.
At the outset of Extra Lives, it was apparent that the differences in my personal taste in games would not matter and that Bissell's own skill with narrative could transcend the fact that we will likely never cross paths in an online game forum.
The first few chapters of the work were excellently written: though I have never played Fallout 3 or Resident Evil, and have only fleeting acquaintance with Left for Dead, I was still transported and engaged.
I shared Bissell's frustration with the often teeth-grindingly-terrible dialog in games and was breathlessly beside him as he tiptoed his way past hordes of zombie minions in Left for Dead.
I found myself openly laughing at Bissell's wit and excited about his apparent insights into gaming.
Even while discussing fairly specific experiences, Bissell was speaking to the heart of gaming in general.
Bissell has clearly thought deeply about gaming; how it could be improved and how impactful it already is on even the casual gamer.
He repeatedly discusses his ideas on how gaming should be improved and how it can be elevated as an art form.
He makes the argument that games, rather uniquely as an art form, can achieve a level of interactivity that places the gamer in situations they would never encounter in life.
With such a strong base, I was hooked and excited to hear what Bissell had to say on this matter.
Unfortunately, as I progressed past the first third of the book, it seemed as though Bissell lost his way.
A good portion of the middle section of this book seemed more appropriate for a magazine game review and was just plain frustrating to anyone who has not specifically played the game in question.
I soldiered on anyway, kept from total madness by the occasional interviews that Bissell had with various game designers — all of which were excellent and revealing.
Armed with more information than I cared to know on the realistic pleas for mercy programmed into the computer characters within Far Cry 2, I approached the final chapter — wherein Bissell discusses his addiction to cocaine and we are assured completely unrelated addition to Grand Theft Auto IV.
All of the formidable powers of insight that Bissell displays in dissecting the minute flaws of story or gameplay vanish when he turns his gaze upon his own life.
The central problem of this book became apparent to me only once it was finished: Tom Bissell is far too personally involved with the games and gamer culture that he is reporting upon.
In his book Bissell approaches the edge of the most important and interesting questions facing the gaming industry and any self-aware gamer.
Having brought the reader to this vantage point, Bissell merely dances distractingly in place for hundreds of pages.
I agree with Bissell that it would be great to elevate the art of game design — making games more insightful, impactful and involving.
But the next obvious discussion following this is one of content.
Yet what does it mean that when Bissell and many other gamers are free to pursue these impulses, they are mostly destructive?
Why, among the dozens of blockbuster games that Bissell highlighted, were almost all of them exceptionally violent?
In a discussion of the meaning of games, why was there only fleeting reference to scientific studies suggesting games impact the user in significant ways?
Yet, in the very next chapter, Bissell gleefully recounts his in-game actions upon the citizens programmed in Grand Theft Auto IV; real live online malaysia, finding thousands of clever and gruesome ways bingo live free massacre them.
I think many serious gamers myself included are conflicted in a similar manner; amazed at the power and imagination of games — yet a little frightened of the emotional sway those games can hold over them.
But surely in a book about the meaningfulness of games, a discussion on the broader impact of game content on their users is relevant?
Bissell is clearly an intelligent and usually insightful guy.
He speaks of what a powerful force gaming can be, what an influential force it has been in his life, then speaks of how he dreams of a future where such games are even more inspiring and engrossing.
Given his significant personal experience wrestling with the darker side of games in his life, the absence of any substantial discussion on the ethics surrounding game design is particularly glaring.
Unfortunately, he cowardly lets himself, and the entire gaming industry, off very lightly in this book.
Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew was getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Circuit, and all of the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed t Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew was getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Circuit, and all of the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed to have—just like Reader Rabbit was the first, and for a long time the only, computer game permitted me.
Which is not to say I was omg horribly deprived or anything.
Just: I never developed an interest in video games, and I still don't have one—the only modern game I think I've played is Rock Band, and when I play that at parties I always try to position myself as the singer because I lack the hand-eye coordination to succeed at any of the instruments.
That's the price of a childhood without video games, right there.
Nevertheless, I was enthralled by Bissell's treatise on their cultural importance.
Like an extended version of 's fabulous essay on Saved By the Bell which I visit web page wasn't allowed to watch—no cartoons, either fromBissell combines examples of what video games have meant to him with an exploration of what larger significance they have or might one day hope to achieve.
I may have even been at an advantage, having no idea what Bissell was talking about: I've seen some other reviewers complain that, for example, the long section where he takes the reader step-by-step, moment-by-moment through the opening of the first Resident Evil game is too much of a rehash if you've played it.
I haven't, and therefore I found it fascinating to experience this paradigm-shifting game along with Bissell's younger self.
Do I really need more ways to waste time?
I have the internet, thanks.
I know this sounds like circular logic, but: the stuff that matters matters.
I can has my sociology degree nao?
My copy came in at the library the same day I got the new Arcade Fire album, The Suburbs, and the two go beautifully together, both evoking this sense of isolation among sprawl and summoning up images of post-apocalyptic landscapes.
A theme in many video games—maybe I am missing out?
I haven't had two disparate works work so well together since the Christmas I was given both 's and Sarah McLachlan's Touch.
uk basketball games online live Series authors give us an entry into a world they enjoy, even adore, through sharing the story of their own romantic relationship with it.
Bissell takes this autobiographical approach much further.
His book criss-crosses between reportage, travelogue, love letter, and excoriating self confession, especially when it comes to his several years spent not writing he was the author of several books of fiction and a regular columnist for a number of magazinesplaying games in marathon-like sessions, and throwing cocaine up his nose: Soon I was sleeping in my clothes.
Soon my hair was stiff and fragrantly unclean.
Soon I was doing lines before my Estonian class, staying up for days, curating prodigious nose bleeds and spontaneously vomiting from exhaustion.
Soon my pillowcases bore rusty coins of nasal drippage.
Soon the only thing I could smell was something like the inside of an empty bottle of prescription medicine.
Soon my biweekly phone call to my cocaine dealer was a weekly phone call.
Soon I was walking into the night, handing hundreds of dollars in cash to a Russian man whose name I did not even know, waiting in alleys for him to come back — which he always did, though I never fully expected him to — and retreating home, to my Xbox, to GTA IV, to the electrifying solitude of my mind at play in an anarchic digital world.
Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of cocaine is one I loathe.
I do know that video games have enriched my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
They have also done damage to my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
I let this happen, of course; I even helped the process along.
As for cocaine, it has been a long time since I last did it, but not as long as I would like.
Bissell seems more performance and personality focused his interviews with figures in the game design world are a strength of the book that prevent it from becoming me-me-me-ishBarr somewhat more philosophical and reflective.
For Bissell, the writer, this concern is storytelling, and how video games are still weighted towards game play rather than narrative: This is one of the most suspect things about the game form.
However, he continues, in that essay he was trying to talk about the intelligence that distinguishes art works from everything else.
Intelligence, he says, can be expressed in all sorts of way; morally, formally, technically, stylistically, thematically, emotionally.
Masterpieces - the things we identify as wiping the table with their intelligence - are comprehensively intelligent; intelligent in all sorts of ways.
And they are generally the result of one unified vision, one single game.
Bissell is unsure: A noisy group of video-game critics and theoreticians laments the rise of story in games.
Tetris would be the best example of this sort of game.
My suspicion is that this lament comes less from frustration with story qua story than it does from the narrative butterfingers on outstanding display in the vast majority of contemporary video games.
I share that frustration.
I also love being the agent of chaos in the video game world.
What I want from games - a control as certain and seamless as the means by which I am being controlled - may be impossible, and I am back to where I began.
Bissell also observes that video games are different from other art forms in one very exact way: the player is just that - not a viewer or reader, but an active, decision-making participant.
His special interest - as a gamer, an academic, and increasingly the game creator - it is playing against the grain, exploring what the world offers, how far you can probe it.
What happens if you walk away from your mission and instead decide to drive your car into a lake or watch a rabbit hop around your horse?
Drive for a while, and listen to a jazz station on the radio as you search for something new to do.
You carefully drive the lage garbage truck down leafy pathways, swerving to avoid pedestrians.
Looking for an amusing diversion, you drive into a lake and somehow manage to keep going with half the vehicle submerged.
The music becomes muted by the water, lending a muffled soundtrack to the already strange scene.
You drive like this for a while, tooting the horn at people walking next to the water.
They stop and star at the incongruous sight of a garbage truck driving in a lake in Central Park.
The idea that we can decide how we feel like relating to a video game is important, even revolutionary.
It means we are playing the game, not the other way around.
Playing a game can be seen as a kind of conversation with its designer.
Their answer comes in the way the game responds to your actions.
This was the point that really fired my imagination in the two books - and brought me circling back to the frustration Bissell feels.
The one exception might be the kinds of game that Barr clearly loves: simulations like The Sims, and the collaborative world-building game MInecraft.
It is the potential for collaborative play that really seems to thrill him: A big part of the excitement of playing a game with someone else is sharing a world with them.
Often this means teaming up to engage in mortal combat against others.
In Left 4 Dead, a zombie-based game, four players join forces to try and survive in various zombie-infested locations.
While battling zombies is entertaining on its own, having a friend rush to your side to dislodge a zombie and then give you medical aid can really get the adrenaline pumping just click for source … There are few gaming experiences more immediately stunning than seeing another person run past you in the same virtual world.
The realisation that various moving figures around you are, in reality, all people who are playing the same game, following the same rules, and sharing many of the same objectives as you is a paradigm shift.
With more space and a different remit, but to the same conclusion, Bissell also discusses Left 4 Dead.
For what more can one ask?
What more could one want?
I want to bring in a quote now from a recent post on.
In this post, Barr comes back to this point he and Bissell have been circling, this magical opportunity.
Perhaps one of the challenges for tragedy in video games is to jettison the notion that the player should always be the explicit author of their circumstances but instead as merely one part in a larger world which is not always impressed or even affected by their actions.
But both have opened my eyes, not just to the rich, deep, wide, silly, expensive, violent, harrowing and pluripotent world of video games, but also to the conversations that go on within it.
I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into c I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into console games, but I did have a 5+ year addiction to the MMORPG Runescape-- and while I look on those lost years very fondly, I don't consider them to be of any inherent value.
There are two main reasons my I personally don't think video games can justify their existence.
First is that they are an addictive time sink, with the corollary that the lost time takes away from not only more join. play video games online live thanks hobbies, but also things necessary for existence like an income to provide for yourself and healthy relationships.
The second is that many OK, not all, but quite a darn few including the entire genre of FPS games video games are extremely violent, and they treat violence very casually.
Just reading paragraph after paragraph in this book shows you how casually murder is treated in these things, and the author admitting multiple times that, well, you just kind of don't feel anything: At one point in Far Cry 2, I was running along the savanna when I was spotted by two militiamen.
I turned and shot, and, I thought, killed them both.
When I waded into the waist-deep grass to pick up their ammo, it transpired that one of the men was still alive.
He proceed to plug me with his sidearm.
Frantic, and low on health, I looked around, trying to find the groaning, dying man, but the grass was too dense.
I sprinted away, only to be hit by a few more of his potshots.
When I had put enough distance between us, I lobbed a Molotov cocktail into the general area where the supine, dying man lay.
Within seconds, I could hear him screaming amid the twiggly crackly of the grass catching fire.
Sitting before my television, I felt a kind of horridly unreciprocated intimacy with the man I had just burned to death.
If the video game references were taken out of this passage and you didn't know the context, this would be horrible.
But because it's a video game.
It's just flashes of pixelated light.
A third critique of video games that I thought of while reading the book was given in an article by Mormon apostle David A.
Bednar that I find philosophically interesting, even if it isn't the first reason that might come to your mind.
My heart aches when a young couple—sealed together in the house of the Lord for time and for all eternity by the power of the holy priesthood—experiences marital difficulties because of the addicting effect of excessive video gaming or online socializing.
A young man or woman may waste countless hours, postpone or forfeit vocational or academic achievement, and ultimately sacrifice cherished human relationships because of mind- and spirit-numbing video and online games.
Are you suggesting that video gaming and various types of computer-mediated communication can play a role in minimizing the importance of our physical bodies?
We live at a time when technology can be used to replicate reality, to augment reality, and to create virtual reality.
For example, a medical doctor can use software simulation to gain valuable experience performing a complicated surgical operation without ever putting a human patient at risk.
I'm pretty open about talking about my faith with other people, and I get quite a few curious inquiries.
This friend asked, "What do Mormons think of video games?
But Church leaders have given pretty stark warnings about video games, and many Mormon families are wary of them.
My family, for instance, had a no-video-game policy for our entire childhood, and we would only get to play them at friend's houses where the long arm of parental rules couldn't reach.
I myself made it to adulthood feeling the better for it, and am glad I escaped childhood relatively unscathed.
Funny enough though, this book doesn't purport to be an exercise in video game apologetics.
It doesn't provide a cohesive argument, and even readily admits the dark side of video games.
Tom Bissell gives a disclaimer at the beginning that the book rather seeks to express "one man's opinions and thoughts on what playing games feels like, why he plays them, and the questions they make him think about.
Some of my favorite passages include this explanation of why the best games are the ones that don't try to explain too much: For many gamers and by all evidence, game designersstory is largely a matter of accumulation.
The more explanation there is, the thought appears to go, the more story has to be generated.
This would be a profound misunderstanding of story for any form of narrative art, but it has hobbled the otherwise high creative achievement of any number of games.
Frequently in works with any degree of genre loyalty-- this would include a vast majority of video games-- the more explicit the story becomes, the more silly it suddenly will seem.
Let us call this the Midi-chlorian Error.
The best science fiction is usually densely realistic in quotidian detail but evocatively vague about the bigger questions.
Tolkien is all but ruined for me whenever I make the mistake of perusing the Anglo-Saxon Talmudisms of his various appendices: "Among the Eldar the Alphabet of Daeron did not develop true cursive forms"-- kill me, please now-- "since for writing the Elves adopted the Faenorian letters.
The impulse to explain is the Achilles' heel of all genre work, and the most sophisticated artists within every genre know better than to expose their worlds to the sharp knife of intellection.
Super Mario requires an ability to recognize patterns, considerable hand-eye coordination, and quick reflexes.
Gears requires the ability to think tactically and make subtle judgments based on scant information, a constant awareness of multiple variables ammunition stores, enemy weaknesses as they change throughout the game, and the spatial sensitivity to control one's movement through a space in which the "right" direction is not always apparent.
Anyone who plays modern games such as Gears does not so much learn the rules as develop a kind of intuition for how the game operates.
Often, there is no single way to accomplish a given task; improvisation is rewarded.
Older games, like Super Mario, punish improvisation; You live or die according to their algebra alone.
As someone who attempts to write what is politely known as literary fiction, I am confident in this assertion.
For me, stories break the surface in the form of image or character or situation.
I start with the variables, not the system.
This is intended neither to ennoble my way of working nor denigrate the game designer; it is to acknowledge the very different formal constraints game designers have to struggle with.
While I may wonder if a certain story idea will online live free tv, this would be a differently approached and much, much less subjective question if I were a game designer.
A game that does not work will, literally, not function.
There is, it should be said, another side to the game-designer mind-set: No matter how famous or well known, most designers are happy to talk about how their games failed in certain areas, and they will even explain why.
Not in my life have I encountered a writer with a blood-alcohol content below.
There were some detracting elements, including his pretty foul mouth and a few jabs at religious folk I found in poor taste.
And while I enjoyed quite a bit of the book, the last chapter kind of ruined it.
It's literally a play by play of him doing nothing but playing video games while getting high on weed and cocaine.
Any aesthetic appreciation for the genre of video games kind of left at that point.
Listen to this summary by the author of pretty much why both video games and cocaine are bad for you-- and also a kind of existential crisis: Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude, and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of cocaine is one I loathe and distrust.
For every moment of transcendence there is a moment in the gutter.
For all its emotional violence there are long periods of quiet and calm.
Something bombardingly strange or new is always happening.
You constantly find things, constantly learn things, constantly see things you could not have imagined.
When you are away from it, you long for its dark and narrow energies.
But am I talking about video games or cocaine?.
So what have games given me?
Not surrogate experiences, but actual experiences, many of which are as important to me as any real memories.
Once I wanted games to show me things I could not see in any other medium.
Then I wanted games to tell me a story in a way no other medium can.
Then I wanted games to redeem something absent in myself.
Then I wanted a game experience that points not toward something, but at something.
Playing GTA IV on coke for weeks and then months at a time, I learned that maybe all a game can do is point at the person who is playing it, and maybe this has to be enough.
There is some absolutely beautiful prose here.
Bissell is very gifted, and this book is worth reading whether you like video games or despise them.
If anything, it at least helped me appreciate the appeal that video games have for some people.
This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Bissell really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Bissell really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is essentially a land mine.
Say the wrong thing or have the wrong opinions and your critics and the trolls will be on you faster than a speeding bullet, and it's possible my opinions here are a case in point.
Certain passages are described perfectly and with such attention to detail I knew exactly what he was talking about.
Bissell's descriptions of Left 4 Dead, for example, were spot on; he flawlessly captured the intensity and the rush of adrenaline when you hear the ominous sound that signals a horde is approaching.
Likewise, his retelling of the opening sequence of Resident Evil 2 strikes as much fear and anxiety as an actual playthrough.
In those limited cases, Bissell is a magician and he deserves three stars.
On the other hand, Bissell had his chance at a soapbox, and this is mine.
You can't claim to be a champion of games or claim to be spearheading the movement to validate games as art by brushing off historic, iconic games that have been universally accepted as some of the best games ever, period.
Bissell likes to praise games that come with great story, but he skims over Ocarina of Time as something that lacks "imagination" and despite being over forty hours long in a complete playthrough, it is "somehow too small.
Anything from racecars to shooters are possible, but Bissell doesn't care for that unless he's racing against police in GTA or shooting zombies.
The latter half of the book is focused on games that really don't have an ending.
Games like Mass Effect and Fry Cry and Grand Theft Auto, although they do have an ending in the script, rarely see players actually reaching any level of completion.
In addition to zombies and monsters, Bissell has a great fondness for games that let him wander around aimlessly to do whatever he wants.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with liking the open world genre of games.
But when he comes out and says "OPEN WORLD GAMES A+++" and then turns around to say "World of Warcraft??
I have no doubt Bissell has played his fair share of games, and in the end this isn't a one star review because in the end this is just an opinion piece, and I can't fault him too much for having an opinion.
I agree with a few of his points, but just the ones where he praises the games he likes.
The times when he only briefly mentions a legendary game and tosses it aside as "not good enough," I can't agree.
Two stars, maybe one.
Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows this is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, af Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows this is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, after all.
It's the reader of exceeding eclecticism that can digest all of his allusions to Epic Games, Nabokov, John le Carre, BraidCutting Crew, and David Foster Wallace a mere iceberg tip.
Every chapter is filled with fascinating interviews with adults who aren't just cynical suits piloting moneygrabbing corporations, but instead a smattering of brilliant and groundbreaking individuals who want to take gaming to an experiential height that we can't yet imagine, finances be damned.
Along these chapters, Bissell recounts the more info that morphed him into something other than himself, a feeling to which we might relate.
Perhaps we snap at our girlfriends' temerity of a goodbye kiss during Demon's Souls i.
Mayhaps we ignore our supposedly highbrow pursuits.
Or simply lament the inordinate amount of time we have spent gaming.
Bissell readily admits to 200+hrs playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivionsomething to which I can entirely relate 120+ playing Dragon Age: Origins and ~150 hrs so far with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Are we doing anything worthwhile with these hours?
I would submit that Thomsen only partially gets the point in his critique of the 100+hour game.
The gaming journeys he criticizes in the epics of modern RPGs aren't important to gamers because of what has actually been accomplished breaking boxes, amassing virtual currency, having polygonal polyamory, or drubbing enemies with increasingly cool magic.
It's actually immaterial if the activity is repetitive, irrelevant, or goofy, and boy are some of them goofy.
Gaming matters to me, at least today, because it gives me a buzz.
Demon's Souls gives me literal goosebumps and can cause a literal rage.
The SNES's Final Fantasy III made me weep.
Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City made the capable author Tom Bissell disappear into another world, and be thankful for the opportunity.
If video games don't do anything for you, you most certainly should not be playing.
But as long as they do, you should never stop.
EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is how upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peri This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is game extra lives upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peripheral things they do.
Bissell holds the line, and it serves him really well here.
I don't think that the book lives up to the subtitle, why games matter.
The conceit of the title, extra lives, really only comes up in the first essay, though it's a really solid idea-- that these games really do allow us to explore ourselves in a new context.
But in the end, this remains a very https://agohome.ru/live/bravo-poker-live-game-report.html, if approachable, take on video games.
It's a lot like Doug Wolk's Reading Comics, though I might like this one a little more that might be because I don't have opinions about games the way I do about comics, so I talked back to this book less than I did Wolk's.
But I also felt its inquiries were more sustained and developed a core concern.
I'm still not sure what to make of the final chapter, a kind of throw everything at the wall chapter that introduces Bissell's cocaine use pretty explicitly, in terms I don't know how to process-- it almost makes the book, opening up to us a useful parallel to what Bissell gets out of games v.
But I feel like parts of it are a little too swept under the rug or raced past.
It's good, and I'd read more, without a doubt.
So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", which I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the history of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this bo So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", which I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the history of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this book as an analyst of industry fortunes a topic about which I could not imagine caring less or as a chronicler of how games rose and came to be, and my understanding of the technical side of game design is nil.
In the portions of the book where I address game design and game designers, it is, I hope, to a formally explanatory rather than technically informative end.
In fact, the book almost exclusively focuses on "story" or "narrative" games, a genre which I've never really played much.
To make matters worse, the "Little Big Problems" chapter was really about the uncanny valley, and only mentions Little Big Read more in passing.
At the end, the book takes an odd turn and becomes a confessional about the author's drug use, and leaves me a bit confused about the overall purpose of the book.
Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually have had an engrossing, good time, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - h Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually have had an engrossing, good time, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - he is really much more interested in the question which he explores at some depth and really seems on the fence about.
In any event this is a very well written book, large parts of which are about two places I used to work BioWare and Ubisoft and I definitely recognize them in his prose though he was a little to soft on BioWare's writing.
His style and vocabulary are very engaging, but above all I was drawn to his honesty.
He confesses a lot about himself in this book which lends credibility to his insights and judgements about the games themselves.
As a writer he is mostly interested in narrative in video games and the conflict that has with allowing players to construct their own.
This is the best book about video games I've read.
I didn't come away feeling like he'd made a solid point, but I did feel like he'd explored the problem s well enough to really know what he's talking about.
Extra Lives is essentially an argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are big releases that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a per Extra Lives is essentially an argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are big releases that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a person who plays video games, I feel like he is just preaching to the choir, but I can understand that he may be reaching out to his wider readership, the people who got into him through Chasing the Sea or God Lives in St.
Petersburg or whatever he writes on Grantland, and I think he does a pretty good job of this.
People who like games will probably only be interested in some of the behind the scenes details of how companies like Ubisoft and Bioware work, but for the uninitiated, the details of Bissel's personal experiences with games and the argument that they invoke such personal experiences may make them want to explore the medium more.
Also, I think he implies that he left Ashley in Mass Effect to die in Virmire because she expressed some anti-alien sentiments.
It's really weird how many people I've talked to used this as the key detail in making that decision.
I chose to leave Kaidan because he is just Carth and I don't want to deal with Carth in game extra lives Bioware game.
I was generally entertained by this exploration of one player's life in games and what they mean to him.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly as compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly as compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Commodore 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
We have the distinction of being the first generation of humanity to spend The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Commodore 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
What this tidy statistic ignores, however, is how ambivalent most of us are about it.
I suppose this is what Tom Bissell is getting at with his badly mislabelled Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
I suppose what he means is something more like Extra Sighs: Why Video Games Matter to Anxious Thirty-Somethings Who Wrestle with the Suspicion That They're Wasting Their Time.
But there is much that I recognize in Bissell, not just for myself but for the other 35 year olds who still play video games when they can but do it with the sort of furtive and vaguely apologetic solitude generally reserved for masturbation.
Ours is not just the first generation to spend our whole lives with video games as a going concern but also likely the last to think of video games as weird.
With internet dating, we were the ones who suffered through the awkward phase of okcupid and match.
So it is with video games, a hobby in which we invested heavily only to see that investment mature at precisely the moment when we finally became too busy, too gray and too uncool to retain our position as the vanguards of the movement.
The kids will have more fun and play better video games than we did, and will be yet more likely to enjoy them openly and without cultural baggage and play them with their girlfriends!
Each generation is doomed to calcify against the innovations of the ones that follow, and we just happened to fall on the wrong side of the cut-off.
Video games are embarrassing.
Video games are often visually and sonically beautiful, and are almost always triumphs of engineering and design, but they remain stubbornly remedial in most aspects of plot, narrative and message, a crippling deficiency for a medium which seeks above all to ape the basic structures of the cinematic.
Playing video games is fun, but a fun that frequently fails to withstand scrutiny.
And while the often lazy sexism of videogames is their most presently infamous shortcoming, the absence of a capacity for meaningful dialogue and story, even in the best games, is arguably more corrosive.
For gamers of a certain age - which is to say, his age - this book is a marvelous compendium of shared experience.
On that level, this is a gutsy book to write because of its heavy potential for immediate obsolescence.
Every one of the titles I just mentioned has spawned a sequel in the few years since Bissell wrote Extra Lives, and while his observations are often prophetic, much of what he has to say fixates too much on the compelling questions of that particular moment, most of which are already long buried.
His breathless exhumation of the specifics of the invention of the cover system within the first person shooter, for example, is already more a study in how quickly the innovative becomes familiar than an article worth more than purely historical interest.
Bissell writes in three essential modes: The first is an analysis of the narrative incoherence of videogames, and this he does well, repeatedly teasing out the dissonant aspects of the recognized classics without diminishing their importance.
The second operates as a memoir - his life seen through videogames, culminating in a largely self-destructive collision of Grand Theft Auto and cocaine which nearly ended his career as a writer.
The last, and least successful, are his forays into videogame journalism, which are often fan-boyish interviews with personalities already familiar to the gaming community and mostly dulling to everyone else.
In the end, not enough time is actually spent on why video games do matter to take this book out of the category of personal memoir and into something more important.
They're only getting better.
I look forward to watching my kids enjoy them while I do the dishes.
Some cool essays about video games, characterization, and why some are more entertaining than others.
I didn't need the tedious info on gaming design conventions or the author's old cocaine habit.
Didn't answer the "why video games matter" of the title, but if you have even a passing interest in video games you may be interested in the opinions here.
ReedIII Quick Review: Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
Are video games both art and entertainment?
This very personal book never actually answers the questions proposed or promoted in the title.
However the book does give gamers and non-gamers good ways to view games in general and some games specifically.
Tom Bissell born 1974 is a journalist, critic, and fiction writer.
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
We are, in effect, admitting that we like to https://agohome.ru/live/casino-live-free-download.html our time shooting monsters, and They are, not unreasonably, failing to find the value in that.
Stories are about time passing and narrative progression.
Games are about challenge, which frustrates the passing of time and impedes narrative progression.
The story force wants to go forward and the "friction force" of challenge tries to hold story back.
This is the conflict at the heart of the narrative game, one that game designers have thus far imperfectly addressed by making story the reward of a successfully met challenge.

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Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Extra Lives is an impassioned defense of this assailed and misunderstood art form.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games game extra lives be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is like no other book on the subject ever published.
Whether you love video games, loathe video games, or are merely curious about why they are becoming the dominant popular art form of our time, Extra Lives is required reading.
The title of this book is Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
The eponymous question is never answered in this volume.
At least, Bissell is honest about his bias against PC games.
I can understand that.
Yet, all of these are interesting accounts of his arundel mills casino live in and impressions of the games while none of them indicate why the games might matter.
He is even more condescending when it comes to game writing predominantly speaking of dialogue and the game press.
There is https://agohome.ru/live/casino-monte-carlo-live-cam.html theme of the frustrated, would-be game writer that runs through the book.
My favorite quotation in the book is when Bissell describes the evolution of video game graphics.
Are, developmentally speaking, cave paintings, whereas Tempest and Pac-Man are something like modernism, albeit a modernism of necessity.
Within the evolution of video games, no naturalistic stage between the primitivism of Pong and the modernism of Tempest was possible due to the technological limitations to which game designers were subject.
About the center of the book, Bissell admits that video games have improved on almost every level—aesthetic, characterization, dialogue, and emotional appeal—but insists that games started at a degree learn more here minus efficacy pp.
That is why I cannot recommend what could have been an important book.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extr I'm a gamer, plain and simple.
And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to have a conversation about games without feeling like a child or just plain awkward.
For the life of me, I really don't know why.
I have played games which have entertained and moved me just as deeply as some movies, books, and music.
So why are Video games still the bastard child of entertainment?
Extra Lives attempts to touch upon this question games football live online well as analyze the media's strengths and weaknesses in character design, narrative, etc.
The writing is very analytical and intellectual, giving me flashbacks at times to my days as an English Major, reading through literary journals for paper ideas.
The book does a great job of introducing concepts to readers who have not played alot of games, so anyone interested in the topic can walk away with something, regardless of background free live online bingo games no download />But what I think I was most impressed with is Bissell's ability to help me look at games I have played in a brand new way.
Many of the games he discussed in the book I have played, and he brings up so many fascinating questions that have really changed how I look at some of the experiences.
In the end, I am really glad that I read this book and am glad that books like this are simply out there.
Video games are really the weird kid in the class when it comes to respected medias and it really shouldn't be the case.
Just like there are mindless movies and mindless books, there are, ofcourse, mindless games.
But also just like books and movies and music, there are real things that can be taken away from video games.
Because it's still a relatively new media, this idea really isn't understood by the masses.
But as the gamers of old become adults and the media continues to become more widespread, I think a time will come where a conversation about Animal Farm will be just as respected as a conversation about Bioshock.
And it will come thanks to books that point out the importance of the media, just like Bissell's extra lives.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for click to see more good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not that book.
The title is more than a little misleading.
I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book.
Unfortunately, Extra Lives is not game extra lives book.
The title is more than a little misleading.
More often than not, this hinges on the writing in the games — the subtext of which seems to be that the author believes games would be a whole lot better if the industry employed more people like him.
Bissell gives the impression that he thinks rather highly just click for source himself, and finds many opportunities to remind the reader of his accomplishments, in-game or otherwise.
The result of all of this, unfortunately, is that the book is an infuriating mess.
Bissell is so self-satisfied, his writing so masturbatory, that I found myself actively disliking him not far into the book — and it only gets worse with each subsequent chapter.
Now, I like video games, believe you me — but reading about why he played his Mass Effect character the way he did, or his description of playing Resident Evil for the first time, is painfully boring.
As I alluded to earlier, I really wanted to like this book.
Suggested alternate title: Tom Bissell Presents The Tom Bissell Story In Which Video Games are Played Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work click at this page him, tomorrow games scores live, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
But I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
The Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep.
Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner and cleaning up, there's an hour.
If I get up early enough, I have an hour to myself in the morning, which I usually use to exercise Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
But I'm hedging my bets.
All of this is to say that I don't play video games anymore.
crockfords casino simply isn't time for everything, and if I want to finish even the meager number of books I need to read for work, something has to go.
Video games were what went.
I was never much of a gamer anyway.
I gravitated towards sports games, for one thing.
I had a long, meaningful relationship with the Indianapolis Colts of Madden 98, which I played on an old Nintendo system I had dug out of my parents' basement.
I'd get home from work late at night, drink a six-pack of domestic beer, and command my team of pixelated men to victory after victory.
These were the nights when I didn't listen to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks over and over again.
There were a few years there where I didn't get laid a lot.
Tom Bissell's Extra Lives sort of makes me want to carve out some time for video games.
Well, it makes continue reading wish I had the time to carve out.
Bissell traces the evolution of games from Resident Evil up through Grand Theft Auto IV, and in the process asks many difficult questions about games and, indeed, art itself.
Can a video game have a https://agohome.ru/live/live-play-online-games.html that matches the narrative complexity of a great novel?
Can it go beyond that?
What are the implications of playing a video game in which your character participates in atrocity after atrocity?
The days have arrived when we can talk about video games alongside books and films as great works of narrative art.
This is the first book, to my knowledge, to do so.
I suspect this book would be even more engaging for someone with a passing knowledge of the games he discusses -- Fall Out, Mass Effect, Bio Shock, Far Cry 2, etc.
Bissell's brain is pretty incredible, though, and his sharp, toothy prose fun words Bissell uses include 'sororus' and 'ludonarrative' and perspective was enough to keep this non-gamer turning the pages.
I was enjoying the book until its final chapter, about Grand Theft Auto IV, and Bissell's concurrent decent into cocaine use.
That chapter took the book from a great work of criticism to something more, something higher.
Recommended for anyone with an interest in gaming, narrative, art, or criticism.
I enjoyed reading this book despite the glaring "literariness" of the writing.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
To view it, The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enrich your narrative, adding a personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being kind of annoying.
Unfortunately, Tom Bissell's Most Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the questi The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enrich your narrative, adding a personal voice to the information you're presenting, or it can drive your reader absolutely ballistic because you're being kind of annoying.
Unfortunately, Tom Bissell's Most Favoritest Moments in Video Games falls under the latter category.
Rather than answering the question asked in the subtitle of this book, "Why video games matter," he instead takes the reader on an occasionally drug-laced trip through why he likes video games.
Along the way he peppers in references to the fact that he's single and can't hold a relationship, he's traveled all over the world, and totally randomly he was addicted to cocaine while he played through Grand Theft Auto IV who knows how many times.
That book could have been good, but this book as it is is trying too hard.
It's part that, and partartsy-fartsy commentary on video games and how they make us er, Tom Bissell think about violence and character and story.
It's the latter that I liked the best despite it occasionally being extremely heavy-handed and smug.
I don't think Far Cry 2 is some kind of amazingly well-crafted love letter to violence and escapism and man's inhumanity to man, and I don't think the people who made the Grand Theft Auto games are making particularly clever statements when they put a coffee cup in the Statue of Liberty's hand or call Metlife Getalife.
I would say it is really very difficult for a game that has dozens of people working on it to come together to create something as artistic as Tom Bissell thinks video games are.
I do love video games.
Video games brought me some fond memories: playing rented games on my dad's Xbox, obsessing over the winding plot of Tales of Symphonia with my then-boyfriend in my college dorm, beating Castlevania: Curse of Darkness with my little brother, and more.
But I don't think that talking about them the way Tom Bissell does is going to advance them in anyone's mind quite yet.
Yes, some people are devoted to games the way they devote themselves to any true artistic measure.
The indie games on the PlayStation Network, WiiWare and XBox Live attest to that.
But I don't think you can put a game churned out by a big company up on a pedestal.
I'll put Mass Effect right up there with all the love Tom gives it.
Even if he played Shepard totally wrong.
Up there I said the trip through this book is "occasionally drug-laced," but I think that's the wrong choice of words.
Drugs are only mentioned in the very last chapter, which is why it seems so random once he starts to wax poetic about cocaine.
He tries to tie his journey through Grand Theft Auto IV to his cocaine addiction, and it just falls flat.
You cannot yet compare a video game to real life.
He just comes across as a total loser in that chapter and it was a really awkward way to end the book.
I'm waiting for a really good book on this topic.
One of the most consistent criticisms I see in other negative reviews of this book is that Tom Bissell's tone is puzzlingly ambivalent.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the only take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I finished the book the only take away I had from his argument was that games have apparently a myriad of structural problems that seem to him almost impossible to surmount.
In fact, more than a month after having listened to the audiobook, I don't feel that his stars game live cricket all was very enlightening at all.
If anything, it made me feel rather pessimistic and uninspired about the next generation of games, and I don't think that was the intended aim of the book.
I really wanted to like this book.
I love the idea of discussing how we could improve games and particularly narrative-driven games.
Yet the only sections of the book that I found worthwhile, were the parts that focused on veteran game designers' POVs and not the author's.
His interviews with Cliff Bleszinski Gears of WarJohnathan Blow Braidand Peter Molyneux Fable to name a few were the most informative on the attitudes and trends of the current video game industry towards designing narrative-driven games, and what designing games is like today vs.
Another problem I had with this book had to do with the author's strange tone of voice.
At numerous points of the audiobook I felt as if the author was talking to a predominately male audience.
I found this alienating, as it felt as if I was overhearing his argument from an exclusive group huddle.
Weird seeing as he started out the book targeting an audience of critics who may not have much experience with videogames.
Even weirder seeing as over 40% of the gamer crowd is female.
That's not to say I was expecting to read a book that absolutely represented every single gamer that would be a little unrealistic and unfairbut I at least expected to read a book with a bit more of a neutral voice.
Some quotes I actually had to write down or make mental notes of to insert into this review because they struck me as not only awkward, but sometimes offensive in a "too-much-information" way.
Such as Bissell's musing over how he "liked the corporate diligence the upper-tier prostitutes worked the casino bars" in Las Vegas why do I care?
Despite dedicating the book to his two nieces, who he often plays games with, I found Bissell's tone odd and often disconcerting.
I also found it strange that almost every game he chose to talk about, was a game that was not very story-driven at all, or games that were influential, but not very useful to his argument.
For instance, that he spends almost a quarter of the book talking about Farcry and footnotes Shadow of the Colossus and Metal Gear Solid seemed a very odd choice for his arguments that games can tell meaningful stories and have successful game mechanics as well.
It's true that you can't include everything in a survey of the video games industry for critics, but I felt as if he'd missed out on some opportunities to discuss games like Metal Gear Solid, that work with many different forms of media for game design inspiration.
Perhaps what took up the space he could've used to discuss some of the games he footnoted, was his sudden switch into autobiography at the tail-end of the book, when he details a cocaine addiction that he suffered while playing GTA and how this epitomized what modern games are like.
Not only did I feel as though the rug was pulled from beneath me at this point of the book, I also felt as if this was a book you this web page not want to give someone who was skeptical about games and gamer culture.
I understand Bissell prefaced the book with a statement about how much of the views expressed in the book would be personal, but I felt this last story of his addiction should've been saved for another book that was focusing more on his life being a critic that wrote on games and click to see more for a book where he's trying to prove that games are worth people's time.
I guess the bottom line of this review is, I didn't retain much of my experience of listening to this audiobook.
I feel as though I could have looked up gamasutra articles on the creators interviewed in the book and garnered about the same amount of useful information as I did from reading Extra Lives.
I'm glad more varied books on games are coming out on the market, but I'm disappointed I couldn't have enjoyed this book or learned from it more.
An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important are An attempt at serious critique of video games.
The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest.
I take exception to the method in approaching critique of video games herein.
The author treats video games as a genre vs.
Result is trying to get "hardcore" games to speak for the whole.
Better would have been to discuss the medium then focus on genre and explain why these are important areas to look at.
The author talks about himself quite oft and in high horse terms.
Then in later segments he'll give out more detail about these claims, and his character falters significantly, and credibility with it.
Such as his time in the peace corps which turns out to be a few weeks till he packs it in because he can't hang with it.
Man, best to either not mention in the first place, or go ahead and let me think you actually made an effort to help the world.
Too, some of his descriptions of games generate questions of "did you even play this title?
Much better portions are snippets from industry pros.
He's got a wide range from industry rebel, Johnathan Blow creator of Braid, to mundane "business something something" at Sony.
Going by what he is able to draw out of these folks, and what to distill unto us the reader, I wager the author is far better suited to interviews than critique.
The book does shine in the very last chapter, however, it's cringingly necessary to have read everything else to get the full weight.
We're talking about several pages supposedly devoted to the analysis of Grand Theft Auto as a series and focusing in on IV.
By far the best analysis in the entire book, but more interestingly is the odd story the author tells about his drug addictions.
Early in the book he talks about being an unashamed partaker of marijuana, but that's it nothing else!
However, as he cracks open GTA IV he describes his friend cuttin' several lines of coke.
European alley ways for his dealer to hopefully return a dose of the goods in exchange for all those wads of cash handed over.
Unfortunately, the author never really gets into his abuse issues, or directly confronts why his personality is flawed, weak, and he needs to do this tho he does hint heavily.
And this could have made for a far more interesting read.
But after finishing this final chapter the reader realizes the book was not so much about games, but the author's attempt to do some therapeutic talking to.
Many of his pompous personal claims are later pulled down, his strict drug policies are found to be anything but, he has security issues needing workt thru, but never brings himself to such; always skirting that bush, but breaking off several branches during the circlings.
A book less about games, and more about personal demons.
Fails at both, but encourage a re-write focusing on the latter.
Epilogue: Jacket design by Chip Kidd, basically the "it" man for 90's book designs.
His work here is shamelessy careless to the point of insult, and herein I agree.
The utter lack of care by such a talent speaks volume to the quality of the content, and seen in such light.
It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video gaming habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video games.
For example, click to see more blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Evil might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has pl It's a tough sell.
The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels.
As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely entertaining 'experiential' account of the author's video game extra lives habits, and a boring, dime-a-dozen primer on video games.
For example, the blow-by-blow recounting of the opening minutes of Resident Evil might be interesting to someone who has never played the game before, but as someone who has played that game and especially that section of that game more times than he cares to admit, I found that there were very few actual insights in this chapter.
I recently listened to an interview with the author on the Brainy Gamer podcast.
The pre-defined audience of this podcast allowed him to go into a lot of detail regarding his thoughts on the relationship between cocaine and GTA IV, and I was left wondering why he couldn't have included these thoughts in the actual book he was promoting?
It would have made the book a lot more enjoyable.
In the end, I feel as if the author failed to show us 'why video games matter', but rather told us why video games matter to him - and even then only weakly.
For a more engaging and coherent argument on why video games matter, check out.
I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into that scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat rooms and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games tha I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer.
Or rather, not any more.
My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever got back into that scene in the same way, probably because I just didn't have time, and I enjoyed the human-interactive element of computers too much, chat rooms and discussion boards and the like.
Also there's the whole book-reading obsession.
I was never going to find the kind of time for games that I have for books.
So there's this whole evolution of gaming that sort of passed me by, and curiosity about what exactly was going on in those games kind of drew me to this book and I wasn't disappointed.
The author talks about all the different console games he has obsessed over and spent huge chunks of his life on, and in doing so brings about a very fascinating discussion of the elements of those games and what works and doesn't work.
I really enjoyed the whole analysis of "story" and why it is so difficult to incorporate it well into a game, and which games attempt it and fail and which games have broken new ground in that area.
He talks about the killing and the violence in a very matter-of-fact way which I guess if you've spent days and months killing people in-game you can get pretty matter-of-fact about it.
He pretty much bypasses discussing the Mario's and Donkey Kong games because those are mostly memorization; he discusses titles like Grand Theft Auto, and Left 4 Dead, and other various first person shooter games where you play a character that is more than an entity that hits bricks with their heads to get coins.
There's a lot of discussion about "agency"; the ability of the player to choose what happens next in a storyline as opposed to just "playing through the level" or from the beginning of the story to the end.
I wish I didn't have to read the last part, about where he loses himself inside cocaine addiction for awhile.
But in the end it totally makes sense because he admits that gaming, to him, was like cocaine and became inextricably tied up with cocaine, so that now when he replays the games they feel flat and lifeless because he isn't high.
The author also talks about his connections to certain game characters, especially Niko in Grand Theft Auto, and that to me was the most fascinating part of the book.
He connected less with the heroic, world-saving characters than he did with Niko, a misfit out-of-his-element guy trying to get a leg up and mostly not doing it very well.
After all, we can't imagine ourselves saving the world every day, but we sure can relate to making mistakes and haplessly stumbling through life.
This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
click talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about that you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
It was really refreshing to hear someone appreciate the world of games, the place they take you.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets This was a fun read.
Its like the conversations you have with your friends.
You'll find yourself say 'Oh yeah!
He talks about the more common games that we gamers play so its easy to relate.
Any games that he talks about that you haven't played makes you want to!
We ended up going out and buying Fallout 3 right afterward.
It was really refreshing to hear someone appreciate the world of games, the place they take you.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it gets a little repetitive; describing every game 'beautiful and amazing'.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time waxing obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a sizable chunk of t "Extra Lives: Why Video Games Suck" At least, that's what this book should be called.
Despite the book's title, Tom Bissell spends a painful amount of time waxing obnoxiously verbose see what I did there?
If I had to estimate, I'd say 80% of his discussion of video games is negative, with weak storytelling and dialogue being his go-to complaints for every shooter he touches.
Note that I said 80% of his discussion of video games, because a sizable chunk of the book has nothing to do with why they matter.
Bissell constantly wanders off on self-indulgent treks through his own experiences playing games, including a painfully narcissistic retelling of heroically saving his teammates at the last possible moment in a round of Left 4 Dead.
These tales of gaming add nothing to his supposed "claim" that video games matter; they only recount moments that anyone who's played the game would recognize, while allowing himself to praise his own decisions and "analyze" them by comparing them to other games he's played.
He also includes, at the beginning of the second chapter, a massive retelling of the first few minutes of the original Resident Evil.
On my e-book copy, this retelling took up 23 of the chapter's 36 pages, with the rest mainly devoted to mocking its terrible dialogue.
Content aside, this book was painful to get through.
The author's prose reeks of a thesaurus, and includes such gems as: "I have already quoted some of the game's dialogue, which at its least weird sounds as though it has been translated out of Japanese, into Swahili, back into Japanese, into the language of the Lunar Federation, back into Japanese, and finally into English.
He also compares Silent Hill's poor voice acting to "autistic miscalculation" in choosing which words to stress in a sentence.
I could go on, but these two examples alone should make my point.
Finally, Bissell does a disservice to the medium as a whole by focusing on only two genres of live odds free nba, one in particular: shooters are clearly his favorite, while platformers limp into second place with a single devoted chapter.
Resident Evil, Fallout, Grand Theft Auto, Far Cry, and Mass Effect each have a chapter to themselves, with Left 4 Dead taking a sizable chunk of a supposedly multi-game chapter.
Braid game extra lives the only non-shooter game to be given significant attention.
A single chapter is devoted to an interview with Braid's creator, Jonathan Blow, but focuses more on his views of the gaming industry as a whole than the game itself.
Another chapter is named Littlebigproblems, a clear play on the game LittleBigPlanet, but that game is only mentioned at the end of the chapter when Bissell laments how many awards it won.
By focusing so singularly on shooters, he excludes the vast majority of the medium, ignoring or only briefly mentioning such genres as puzzle, RPG, strategy, simulation, MMO, adventure, fighting, stealth, music, and casual games.
Many of his complaints, especially about supposedly lacking storytelling, figure differently into each genre, and it makes it seem like Bissell cherry-picked the specific games he examined to support his chief complaints.
Overall, this book was terrible.
I expected a look at why video games matter.
I received an essay on why video games are an artless, time-wasting medium, according to a man who sings nothing but weak complaints and his own praises.
I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book w I'll admit that I'm not a huge video game player.
I play a couple of games on my computer, and played video games a lot as a kid and teenager, but it's been almost 20 years since I played many games and haven't spent much time playing anything since the PlayStation came out.
So, if you're really a gamer, you might get more out of this book than I did.
With that said, I saw this author speak and picked up his book at the speaking engagement.
He freely admitted that while the subtitle of his book was 'Why Video Games Matter,' one critic had stated that the book more accurately described why video games matter to the author.
In fact, there are a number of reasons that video games are really important.
The author alludes to some of them.
Video games, especially first-person shooter games, are very popular among members of the military.
The video game industry is huge, rivaling other media, like movies.
Video games can be used to simulate a lot of different scenarios.
Video games please click for source incredibly violent and encourage people to be violent or don't, I don't know.
So analyze those reasons.
Why are video games popular among the military or how do video games help members of the military develop needed skills?
Or how do video games prevent members of the military from developing needed skills, if that's the case.
What we get instead is a retelling of some of the author's favorite game playing moments.
At times, we get a somewhat self-righteous account of why the author decided not to make a particular video game character take unnecessary violent actions since that would have violated the vision of the game developers.
Ultimately, instead of getting an explanation of why video games matter, I think we get a portrait of a life in which too much time was spent wasted playing video games and taking drugs, with one habit seeming to fuel the other.
The author seems to have been frequently more concerned with whether his female video game characters would consummate their relationships than whether he would consummate his own.
By the end, I was a bit depressed and actually felt like I disliked the author.
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's experience playing first person shooter style games that I don't play.
Where is the universality?
I felt sort of dirty after reading this one.
Tom Bissell is a really exceptional writer and I loved his work on Disaster Artist.
I also love video game commentary.
I was completely on board with this title and was hoping for a lot of passion and good storytelling, in a similar vein to the Indie Game movie maybe.
Instead I was subjected mostly to a lot of boring prose detailing Bissell's experience playing first person shooter style games that Game extra lives don't play.
Where is the universality?
And where is any shred of an argument supporting the stated importance of video games?
The essays are super disjointed, as a result, there is zero flow in the book.
The chapters don't seem to have any relationship to one another except that they are all about video games.
And for an avid gaming enthusiast Bissell has a surprisingly uncomfortable relationship to his geekery.
But it was the blatant misogyny that ultimately cemented my dislike for Bissell.
In one particularly gross example he wanders into a video game developing company and confronts attractive women milling around.
He then wonders if the company has "expanded to include an escort service or modeling agency or both.
Oh and he also compares Vegas to a spent whore: "Las Vegas was the world's whore, and whores do not change.
A lot of readers felt alienated by the chapter on Bissell's cocaine addiction.
I actually felt like it was one of the few times in the book where Bissell is in touch with his humanity and has something interesting to say.
To review Tom Bissell's latest work, it seems one must start off with a little personal background, so as not to be dismissed out-of-hand as an outsider.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
Here, I can readily admit to my great fondness of games and all things gamey and thereby actually hope to increase for once in life your estimation of my worth as a book reviewer.
I personally have never gotten too excited about first-person shooters, but I do love a good story woven into my game.
At the outset of Extra Lives, it was apparent that the differences in my personal taste in games would not matter and that Bissell's own skill with narrative could transcend the fact that we will likely never cross paths in an online game forum.
The first few chapters of the work were excellently written: though I have never played Fallout 3 or Resident Evil, and have only fleeting acquaintance with Left for Dead, I was still transported and engaged.
I shared Bissell's frustration with the often teeth-grindingly-terrible dialog in games and was breathlessly beside him as he tiptoed his way past hordes of zombie minions in Left for Dead.
I found myself openly laughing at Bissell's wit and excited about his apparent insights into gaming.
Even while discussing fairly specific experiences, Bissell was speaking to the heart of gaming in general.
Bissell has clearly thought deeply about gaming; how it could be improved and how impactful it already is on even the casual gamer.
He repeatedly discusses his ideas on how gaming should be improved and how it can be elevated as an art form.
He makes the argument that games, rather uniquely as an art form, can achieve a level of interactivity that places the gamer in situations they would never encounter in life.
With such a strong base, I was hooked and excited to hear what Bissell had to say on this matter.
Unfortunately, as I progressed past the first third of the book, it seemed as though Bissell lost his way.
A good portion of the middle section of this book seemed more appropriate for a magazine game review and was just plain frustrating to anyone who has not specifically played the game in question.
I soldiered on anyway, kept from total madness by the occasional interviews that Bissell had with various game designers — all of which were excellent and revealing.
Armed with more information than I cared to know on the realistic pleas for mercy programmed into the computer characters within Far Cry 2, I approached the final chapter — wherein Bissell discusses his addiction to cocaine and we are assured completely unrelated addition to Grand Theft Auto IV.
All of the formidable powers of insight that Bissell displays in dissecting the minute flaws of story or gameplay vanish when he turns his gaze upon his own life.
The central problem of this book became apparent to me only once it was finished: Tom Bissell is far too personally involved with the games and gamer culture that he is reporting upon.
In his book Bissell approaches the edge of the most important and interesting questions facing the gaming industry and any self-aware gamer.
Having brought the reader to this vantage point, Bissell merely dances distractingly in place for hundreds of pages.
I agree with Bissell that it would be great to elevate the art of game design — making games more insightful, impactful and involving.
But the next obvious discussion following this is one of content.
Yet what does it mean that when Bissell and many other gamers are free to pursue these impulses, they are mostly destructive?
Why, among the dozens of blockbuster games that Bissell highlighted, were almost all of them exceptionally violent?
In a discussion of the meaning of games, why was there only fleeting reference to scientific studies suggesting games impact the user in significant ways?
Yet, in the very next chapter, Bissell gleefully recounts his in-game actions upon the citizens programmed in Grand Theft Auto IV; namely, finding thousands of clever and gruesome ways to massacre them.
I think many serious gamers myself included are conflicted in a similar manner; amazed at the power and imagination of games — yet a little frightened of the emotional sway those games can hold over them.
But surely in a book about the meaningfulness of games, a discussion on the broader impact of game content on their users is relevant?
Bissell is clearly an intelligent and usually insightful guy.
He speaks of what a powerful force gaming can be, what an influential force it has been in his life, then speaks of how he dreams of a future where such games are even more inspiring and engrossing.
Given his significant personal experience wrestling with the darker side of games in his life, the absence of any substantial discussion on the ethics surrounding game design is particularly glaring.
Unfortunately, he cowardly lets himself, and the entire gaming industry, off very lightly in this book.
Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew was getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Circuit, and all of the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed t Here's the whole of my experience with video games: when I was growing up in the '90s and almost every other kid I knew was getting a Nintendo or a Sega or a PlayStation, my parents bought me a console called Socrates.
Socrates was a robot who looked kind of like the one from Short Circuit, and all of the preloaded, unexpandable games in his system were designed to teach you about math and spelling and other such crunchy, educational things.
This was the only gaming system I was ever allowed to have—just like Reader Rabbit was the first, and for a long time the only, computer game permitted me.
Which is not to say I was omg horribly deprived or anything.
Just: I never developed an interest in video games, and I still don't have one—the only modern game I think I've played is Rock Band, and when I play that at parties I always try to position myself learn more here the singer because I lack the hand-eye coordination to succeed at any of the instruments.
That's the price of a childhood without video games, right there.
Nevertheless, I was enthralled by Bissell's treatise on their cultural importance.
Like an extended version of 's fabulous essay on Saved By the Bell which I also wasn't allowed to watch—no cartoons, either fromBissell combines examples of what video games have meant to him with an exploration of what larger significance they have or might one day hope to achieve.
I may have even been at an advantage, having no idea what Bissell was talking about: I've seen some other reviewers complain that, for example, the long section where he takes the reader step-by-step, moment-by-moment through the opening of the first Resident Evil game is too much of a rehash if you've played it.
I haven't, and therefore I found it fascinating to experience this paradigm-shifting game along with Bissell's younger self.
Do I really need more ways to waste time?
I have the internet, thanks.
I know this sounds like circular logic, but: the stuff that matters matters.
I can has my sociology degree nao?
My copy came in at the library the same day I got the new Arcade Fire album, The Suburbs, and the two go beautifully together, both evoking this sense of isolation opinion live poker freeroll quickly sprawl and summoning up images of post-apocalyptic landscapes.
A theme in many video games—maybe I am missing out?
I haven't had two disparate works work so well together since the Christmas I was given both 's and Sarah McLachlan's Touch.
Ginger Series authors give us an entry into a world they enjoy, even adore, through sharing the story of their own romantic relationship with it.
Bissell consider, download live game topic this autobiographical approach much further.
His book criss-crosses between reportage, travelogue, love letter, and excoriating self confession, especially when it comes to his several years spent not writing he was the author of several books of fiction and a regular columnist for a number of magazinesplaying games in marathon-like sessions, and throwing cocaine up his nose: Soon I was sleeping in my clothes.
Soon my hair was stiff and fragrantly unclean.
Soon I was doing lines before my Estonian class, staying up for days, curating prodigious nose bleeds and spontaneously vomiting from exhaustion.
Soon my pillowcases bore rusty coins of nasal drippage.
Soon the only thing I could smell was something like the inside of an empty bottle of prescription medicine.
Soon my biweekly phone call to my cocaine dealer was a weekly phone call.
Soon I was walking into the night, handing hundreds of dollars in cash to a Russian man whose name I did not even know, waiting in alleys for him to come back — which he always did, though I never fully expected him to — and retreating home, to my Xbox, to GTA IV, to the electrifying solitude of my mind at play in an anarchic digital world.
Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of cocaine is one I loathe.
I do know that video games have enriched my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
They have also done damage to my life.
Of that I have no doubt.
I let this happen, of course; I even helped the process along.
As for cocaine, it has been a long time since I last did it, but not as long as I would like.
Bissell seems more performance and personality focused his interviews with figures in the game design world are a strength of the book that prevent it from becoming me-me-me-ishBarr somewhat more philosophical and reflective.
For Bissell, the writer, this concern is storytelling, and how video games are still weighted towards game play rather than narrative: This is one of the most suspect things about the game form.
However, he continues, in that essay he was trying to talk about the intelligence that distinguishes art works from everything else.
Intelligence, he says, can be expressed in all sorts of way; morally, formally, technically, stylistically, thematically, emotionally.
Masterpieces - the things we identify as wiping the table with their intelligence - are comprehensively intelligent; intelligent in all sorts of ways.
And they are generally the result of one unified vision, one single game.
Bissell is unsure: A noisy above free online nba games live same of video-game critics and theoreticians laments the rise of story in games.
Tetris would be the best example of this sort of game.
My suspicion is that this lament comes less from frustration with story qua story than it does from the narrative butterfingers on outstanding display in the vast majority of contemporary video games.
I share that frustration.
I also love being the agent of chaos in the video game world.
What I want from games - a control as certain and seamless as the means by which I am being controlled - may be impossible, and I am back to where I began.
Bissell also observes that video games are different from other art forms in one very exact way: the consider, online live free tv are is just that - not a viewer or reader, but an active, decision-making participant.
His special interest - as a gamer, an academic, and increasingly the game creator - it is playing against the grain, exploring what the world offers, how far you can probe it.
What happens if you walk away from your mission and instead decide to drive your car into a lake or watch a rabbit hop around your horse?
Drive for a while, and listen to a jazz station on the radio as you search for something new to do.
You carefully drive the lage garbage truck down leafy pathways, swerving to avoid pedestrians.
Looking for an amusing diversion, you drive into a lake and somehow manage to keep going with half the vehicle submerged.
The music becomes muted by the water, lending a muffled soundtrack to the already strange scene.
You drive like this for a while, tooting the horn at people walking next to the water.
They stop and star at the incongruous sight of a garbage truck driving in a lake in Central Park.
The idea that we can decide how we feel like relating to a video game is important, even revolutionary.
It means we are playing the game, not the other way around.
Playing a game can be seen as a kind of conversation with its designer.
Their answer comes in the way the game responds to your actions.
This was the point that really fired my imagination in the two books - and brought me circling back to the frustration Bissell feels.
The one exception might be the kinds of game that Barr clearly loves: simulations like The Sims, and the collaborative world-building game MInecraft.
It is the potential for collaborative play that really seems to thrill him: A big part of the excitement of playing a game with someone else is sharing a world with them.
Often this means teaming up to engage in mortal combat against others.
In Left 4 Dead, a zombie-based game, four players join forces to try and survive in various zombie-infested locations.
While battling zombies is entertaining on its own, having a friend rush to your side to dislodge a zombie and then give you medical aid can really get the adrenaline pumping … … There are few gaming experiences more immediately stunning than seeing another person run past you in the same virtual world.
The realisation that various moving figures around you are, in reality, all people who are playing the same game, following the same rules, and sharing many of the same objectives as you is a paradigm shift.
With more space and a different remit, but to the same conclusion, Bissell also discusses Left 4 Dead.
For what more can one ask?
What more could one want?
I want to bring in a quote now from a recent post on.
In this post, Barr comes back to this point he and Bissell have been circling, this magical opportunity.
Perhaps one of the challenges for tragedy in video games is to jettison the notion that the player should always be the explicit author of their circumstances but instead as merely one part in a larger world which is not always impressed or even affected by their actions.
But both have opened my eyes, not just to the rich, deep, wide, silly, expensive, violent, harrowing and pluripotent world of video games, but also to the conversations that go on within it.
I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into c I added this book to my shelf for the two oxymorons built into the existence of this book.
The first is the juxtaposition of genres: a book.
I suppose the Venn diagram of bookworms and video game addicts could have some sort of intersection, and the presence of the author writing this book indicates there are indeed some out there.
The second is built into the title: Why Video Games Matter.
My instantaneous and perhaps self-righteous answer is: they don't.
I never got into console games, but I did have a 5+ year addiction to the MMORPG Runescape-- and while I look on those lost years very fondly, I don't consider them to be of any inherent value.
There are two main reasons my I personally don't think video games can justify their existence.
First is that they are an addictive time sink, with the corollary that the lost time takes away from not only more productive hobbies, but also things necessary for existence like an income to provide for yourself and healthy relationships.
The second is that many OK, not all, but quite a darn few including the entire genre of FPS games video games are extremely violent, and they treat violence very casually.
Just reading paragraph after paragraph in this book shows you how casually murder is treated in these things, and the author admitting multiple times that, well, you just kind of don't feel anything: At one point in Far Cry 2, I was running along the savanna when I was spotted by two militiamen.
I turned and shot, and, I thought, killed them both.
When I waded into the waist-deep grass to pick up their ammo, it transpired that one of the men was still alive.
He proceed to plug me with his sidearm.
Frantic, and low on health, I looked around, trying to find the groaning, dying man, but the grass was too dense.
I sprinted away, only to be hit by a few more of his potshots.
When I had put enough distance between us, I lobbed a Molotov cocktail into the general area where the supine, dying man lay.
Within seconds, I could hear him screaming amid the twiggly crackly of the grass catching fire.
Sitting before my television, I felt a kind of horridly unreciprocated intimacy with the man I had just burned to death.
If the video game references were taken out of this passage and you didn't know the context, this would be horrible.
But because it's a video game.
It's just flashes of pixelated light.
A third critique of video games that I thought of while reading the book was given in an article by Mormon apostle David A.
Bednar that I find philosophically interesting, even if it isn't the first reason that might come to your mind.
My heart aches when a young couple—sealed together in the house of the Lord for time and for all eternity by the power of the holy priesthood—experiences marital difficulties because of the addicting effect of excessive video gaming or online socializing.
A young man or woman may waste countless hours, postpone or forfeit vocational or academic achievement, and ultimately sacrifice cherished human relationships because of mind- and spirit-numbing video and online games.
Are you suggesting that video gaming and various types of computer-mediated communication can play a role in minimizing the importance of our physical bodies?
We live at a time when technology can be used to replicate reality, to augment reality, and to create virtual reality.
For example, a medical doctor can use software simulation to gain valuable experience performing a complicated surgical operation without ever putting a human patient at risk.
I'm pretty open about talking about my faith with other people, and I get quite a few curious inquiries.
This friend asked, "What do Mormons think of video games?
But Church leaders have given pretty stark warnings about video games, and many Mormon families are wary of them.
My family, for instance, had continue reading no-video-game policy for our entire childhood, and we would only get to play them at friend's houses where the long arm of parental rules couldn't reach.
I myself made it to adulthood feeling the better for it, and am glad I escaped childhood relatively unscathed.
Funny enough though, this book doesn't purport to be an exercise in video game apologetics.
It doesn't provide a cohesive argument, and even readily admits the dark side of video games.
Tom Bissell gives a disclaimer at the beginning that the book rather seeks to express "one man's opinions and thoughts on what playing games feels like, why he plays them, and the questions they make him think about.
Some of my favorite passages include this explanation of why the best games are the ones that don't try to explain too much: For many gamers and by all evidence, game designersstory is largely a matter of accumulation.
The more explanation there is, the thought appears to go, the more story has to be generated.
This would be a profound misunderstanding of story for any form of narrative art, but it has hobbled the otherwise high creative achievement of any number of games.
Frequently in works with any degree of genre loyalty-- this would include a vast majority of video games-- the more explicit the story becomes, the more silly it suddenly will seem.
Let us call this the Midi-chlorian Error.
The best science fiction is usually densely realistic in quotidian detail but evocatively vague about the bigger questions.
Tolkien is all but ruined for me whenever I make the mistake of perusing the Anglo-Saxon Talmudisms of his various appendices: "Among the Eldar the Alphabet of Daeron did not develop true cursive forms"-- kill me, please now-- "since for writing the Elves adopted the Faenorian letters.
The impulse to explain is the Achilles' heel of all genre work, and the most sophisticated artists within every genre know better than to expose their worlds to the sharp knife of intellection.
Super Mario requires an ability to recognize patterns, considerable hand-eye coordination, and quick reflexes.
Gears requires the ability to think tactically and make subtle judgments based on scant information, a constant awareness of multiple variables ammunition stores, enemy weaknesses as they change throughout the game, and the spatial sensitivity to control one's movement through a space in which the "right" direction is not always apparent.
Anyone who plays modern games such as Gears does not so much learn the rules as develop a kind of intuition for how the game operates.
Often, there is no single way to accomplish a given task; improvisation is rewarded.
Older games, like Super Mario, punish improvisation; You live or die according to their algebra alone.
As click the following article who attempts to write what is politely known as literary fiction, I am confident in this assertion.
For me, stories break the surface in the form of image or character or situation.
I start with the variables, not the system.
This is intended neither to ennoble my way of working nor denigrate the game designer; it is to acknowledge the very different formal constraints game designers have to struggle with.
While I may wonder if a certain story idea will "work", this would be a differently approached and much, much less subjective question if I were a game designer.
A game that does not work will, literally, not function.
There is, it should be said, another side to the game-designer mind-set: No matter how famous or well known, most designers are happy to talk about how their games failed in certain areas, and they will even explain why.
Not in my life have I encountered a writer with a blood-alcohol content below.
There were some detracting elements, including his pretty foul mouth and a few jabs at religious folk I found in poor taste.
And while I enjoyed quite a bit of the book, the last chapter kind of ruined it.
It's literally a play by play of him doing nothing but playing video games while getting high on weed and cocaine.
Any aesthetic appreciation for the genre of video games kind of left at that point.
Listen to this summary by the author of pretty much why both video games and cocaine are bad for you-- and also a kind of existential crisis: Video games and cocaine feed on my impulsiveness, reinforce my love of solitude, and make me feel good and bad in equal measure.
The crucial difference is that I believe in what video games want to give me, while the bequest of cocaine is one I loathe and distrust.
For every moment of transcendence there is a moment in the gutter.
For all its emotional violence there are long periods of quiet and calm.
Something bombardingly strange or new is always happening.
You constantly find things, constantly learn things, constantly see things you could not have imagined.
When you are away from it, you long for its dark and narrow energies.
But am I talking about video games or cocaine?.
So what have games given me?
Not surrogate experiences, but actual experiences, many of which are as important to me as any real memories.
Once I wanted games to show me things I could not see in any other medium.
Then I wanted games to tell me a story in a way no other medium can.
Then I wanted games to redeem something absent in myself.
Then I wanted a game experience that points not toward something, but at something.
Playing GTA IV on coke for weeks and then months at a time, I learned that maybe all a game can do is point at the person who is playing it, and maybe this has to be enough.
There is some absolutely beautiful prose here.
Bissell is very gifted, and this book is worth reading whether you like video games or despise them.
If anything, it at least helped me appreciate the appeal that video games have for some people.
This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Bissell really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is This book should really be renamed to "Extra Lives: Why I Like Video Games," because most of it is about the five or six games that Bissell really loves - the rest is about the other best-selling award-winning games he doesn't like because.
I settled on two stars as a happy medium.
I really wanted to give it three stars because the gaming industry is essentially a land mine.
Say the wrong thing or have the wrong opinions and your critics and the trolls will be on you faster than a speeding bullet, and it's possible my opinions here are a case in point.
Certain passages are described perfectly and with such attention to detail I knew exactly seems, ncaa basketball games online live for he was talking about.
Bissell's descriptions of Left 4 Dead, for example, were spot on; he flawlessly captured the intensity and the rush of adrenaline when you hear the ominous sound that signals a horde is approaching.
Likewise, his retelling of the opening sequence of Resident Evil 2 strikes as much fear and anxiety as an actual playthrough.
In those limited cases, Bissell is a magician and he deserves three stars.
On the other hand, Bissell had his chance at a soapbox, and this is mine.
You can't claim to be a champion of games or claim to be spearheading the movement to validate games as art by brushing off game extra lives, iconic games that have been universally accepted as some of the best games ever, period.
Bissell likes to praise games that come with great story, but he skims over Ocarina of Time as something that lacks "imagination" and despite being over forty hours long in a complete playthrough, it is "somehow too small.
Anything from racecars to shooters are possible, but Bissell doesn't care for that unless he's racing against police in GTA or shooting zombies.
The latter half of the book is focused on games that really don't have an ending.
Games like Mass Effect and Fry Cry and Grand Theft Auto, although they do have an ending in the script, rarely see players actually reaching any level of completion.
In addition to zombies and monsters, Bissell has a great fondness for games that let him wander around aimlessly to do whatever he wants.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with liking the open world genre of games.
But when he comes out and says "OPEN WORLD GAMES A+++" and then turns around to say "World of Warcraft??
I have no doubt Bissell has played his fair share of games, and in the end this isn't a one star review because in the end this is just an opinion piece, and I can't fault him too much for having an opinion.
I agree with a few of his points, but just the ones where he praises the games he likes.
The times when he only briefly mentions a legendary game and tosses it aside as "not good enough," I can't agree.
Two stars, maybe one.
Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows this is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, more info Vice City Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming.
Tom Bissell figuratively and literally knows this is true.
He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses click why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely.
Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose he is a creative writing major and literary critic, after all.
It's the reader of exceeding eclecticism that can digest all of his allusions to Epic Games, Nabokov, John le Carre, BraidCutting Crew, and David Foster Wallace a mere iceberg tip.
Every chapter is filled with fascinating interviews with adults who aren't just cynical suits piloting moneygrabbing corporations, but instead a smattering of brilliant and groundbreaking individuals who want to take gaming to an experiential height that we can't yet imagine, finances be damned.
Along these chapters, Bissell recounts the games that morphed him into something other than himself, a feeling to which we might relate.
Perhaps we snap at our girlfriends' temerity of a goodbye kiss during Demon's Souls i.
Mayhaps we ignore our supposedly highbrow pursuits.
Or simply lament the inordinate amount of time we have spent gaming.
Bissell readily admits to 200+hrs playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivionsomething to which I can entirely relate 120+ playing Dragon Age: Origins and ~150 hrs so far with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Are we doing anything worthwhile with these hours?
I would submit that Thomsen only partially gets the point in his critique of the 100+hour game.
The gaming journeys he criticizes in the epics of modern RPGs aren't important to gamers because of what has actually been accomplished breaking boxes, amassing virtual currency, having polygonal polyamory, or drubbing enemies with increasingly cool magic.
It's actually immaterial if the activity is repetitive, irrelevant, or goofy, and boy are some of them goofy.
Gaming matters to me, at least today, because it gives me a buzz.
Demon's Souls gives me literal goosebumps and can cause a literal rage.
The SNES's Final Fantasy III made me weep.
Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City made the capable author Tom Bissell disappear into another world, and be thankful for the opportunity.
If video games don't do anything for you, you most certainly should not be playing.
But as long as they do, you should never stop.
EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion EDITORIAL REVIEW: Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four.
If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games.
In this, he is not alone.
Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood.
But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better.
He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate.
This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is how upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peri This was a really really good book, on a subject I'm fascinated-repelled by.
Part of Bissell's accomplishment, to me, is how upfront he is about what he wants out of games-- an emotionally rich experience, one that is worth something in terms of how it casts his own life in a new light.
I think this is pretty well understood as what most of us want, but I think if Bissell left it unsaid, as most people would, he'd have circles run around him by designers telling us the other interesting but peripheral things they do.
Bissell holds the line, and it serves him really well here.
I don't think that the book lives up to the subtitle, why games matter.
The conceit of the title, extra lives, really only comes up in the first essay, though it's a really solid idea-- that these games really do allow us to explore ourselves in a new context.
But in the end, this remains a very personal, if approachable, take on video games.
It's a lot like Doug Wolk's Reading Comics, though I might like this one a little more that might be because I don't have opinions about games the way I do about comics, so I talked back to this book less than I did Wolk's.
But I also felt its inquiries were more sustained and developed a core concern.
I'm still not sure what to make of the final chapter, a kind of throw everything at the wall chapter that introduces Bissell's cocaine use pretty explicitly, in terms I don't know how to process-- it almost makes the book, opening up to us a useful parallel to what Bissell gets out of games v.
But I feel like parts of it are a little too swept under the rug or raced past.
It's good, and I'd read more, without a doubt.
So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", game extra lives I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the history of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this bo So a book about video games by an author with an impressive resume sounded pretty interesting to me.
And it even has a chapter called "Little Big Problems", which I assumed would be about Little Big Planet by far my kids' favorite video game ever.
I should have known from this bit in the intro what I was getting into: There are many fine books about the game industry, the theory of game design, and the history of games, overmuch discussion of which will not be found here.
I did not write this book as an analyst of industry fortunes a topic about which I could not imagine caring less or as a chronicler of how games rose and came to be, and my understanding of the technical side of game design is nil.
In the portions of the book where I address game design and game designers, it is, I hope, to a formally explanatory rather than technically informative end.
In fact, the book almost exclusively focuses on "story" or "narrative" games, a genre which I've never really played much.
To make matters worse, the "Little Big Problems" chapter was really about the uncanny valley, and only mentions Little Big Planet in passing.
At the end, the book takes an odd turn and becomes a confessional about the author's drug use, and leaves me a bit confused about the overall purpose of the book.
Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually have had an engrossing, good time, and I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - h Very interesting and surprisingly personal book that doesn't have answers so much as questions.
I have long struggled with the same problem as Bissell, namely, "Are video games even a good thing".
I have gone through many of the same addictive, self-destructive behaviours that he has.
When I finish a video game, I usually have had an engrossing, good time, read more I feel a sense of accomplishment, but I don't feel better for it.
He makes a fairly half hearted argument as to why video games matter - he is really much more interested in the question which he explores at some depth and game extra lives seems on the fence about.
In any event this is a very well written book, large parts of which are about two places I used to work BioWare and Ubisoft and I definitely recognize them in his prose though he was a little to soft on BioWare's writing.
His style and vocabulary are very engaging, but above all I was drawn to his honesty.
He confesses a lot about himself in this book which lends credibility to his insights and judgements about the games themselves.
As a writer he is mostly interested in narrative in video games and the conflict that has with allowing players to construct their own.
This is the best book about video games I've read.
I didn't come away feeling like he'd made a solid point, but I did feel like he'd explored the problem s well enough to really know what he's talking about.
Extra Lives is essentially an argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are big releases that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a per Extra Lives is essentially an argument that video games are a unique art form.
It is mostly intended for people who don't play video games.
Most of the games he covers are big releases that most people who actually play video games have played and probably agree with him on most of his sentiments.
I think this set of games Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Braid, etc is covered because they are all games that would be good introductory material for someone getting into the medium.
As a person who plays video games, I feel like he is just preaching to the choir, but I can understand that he may be reaching out to his wider readership, the people who got into him through Chasing the Sea or God Lives in St.
Petersburg or whatever he writes on Grantland, and I think he does a pretty good job of this.
People who like games will probably only be interested in some of the behind the scenes details of how companies just click for source Ubisoft and Bioware work, but for the uninitiated, the details of Bissel's personal experiences with games and the argument that they invoke such personal experiences may make them want to explore the medium more.
Also, I think he implies that he left Ashley in Mass Effect to die in Virmire because she expressed some anti-alien sentiments.
It's really weird how many people I've talked to used this as the key detail in making that decision.
I chose to leave Kaidan because he is just Carth and I don't want to deal with Carth in another Bioware game.
I was generally entertained by this exploration of one player's life in games and what they mean to him.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly as compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
I appreciate that the author tried to deconstruct the elements that make video games satisfying and successful, particularly as compared to films, novels, and other immersive fictional experiences.
And it was fun going over key leaps and departures in game development, and how fun they were to play.
But, I don't think this really explained the subtitle, "Why Video Games Matter.
The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Commodore 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
We have the distinction of being the first generation of humanity to spend The Life Cycle of the Aged Gamer Despite the persistence of marketing aimed squarely at the teenaged demographic, the average American video game player is 35 years old and male though younger women are the fastest growing demographic.
This is the generation only five years old for the Atari and Commodore 64, eight for the Nintendo, and thirteen for the internet.
We started playing when we were kids and we never stopped.
What this tidy statistic ignores, however, is how ambivalent most of us are about it.
I suppose this is what Tom Bissell is getting at with his badly mislabelled Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
I suppose what he means is something more like Extra Sighs: Why Video Games Matter to Anxious Thirty-Somethings Who Wrestle with the Suspicion That They're Wasting Their Time.
But there is much that I recognize in Bissell, not just for myself but for the other 35 year olds who still play video games when they can but do it with the sort of furtive and vaguely apologetic solitude generally reserved for masturbation.
Ours is not just the first generation to spend our whole lives with video games as a going concern but also likely the last to think of video games as weird.
With internet dating, we were the ones who suffered through the awkward phase of okcupid and match.
So it is with video games, a hobby in which we invested heavily only to see that investment mature at precisely the moment when we finally became too busy, too gray and too uncool to retain our position as the vanguards of the movement.
The kids will have more fun and play better video games than we did, and will be yet more likely to enjoy them openly and without cultural baggage and play them with their girlfriends!
Each generation is doomed to calcify against the innovations of the ones that follow, and we just happened to fall on the wrong side of the cut-off.
Video games are embarrassing.
Video games are often visually and sonically beautiful, and are almost always triumphs of engineering and design, but they remain stubbornly remedial in most aspects of plot, narrative and message, a crippling deficiency for a medium which seeks above all to ape the basic structures of the cinematic.
Playing video games is fun, but a fun that frequently fails to withstand scrutiny.
And while the often lazy sexism of videogames is their most presently infamous shortcoming, the absence of a capacity for meaningful dialogue and story, even in the best games, is arguably more corrosive.
For gamers of a certain age - which is to say, his age - this book is a marvelous compendium of shared experience.
On that level, this is a gutsy book to write because of its heavy potential for immediate obsolescence.
Every one of the titles I just mentioned has spawned a sequel in the few source since Bissell wrote Extra Lives, and while his observations are often prophetic, much of what he has to say fixates too much on the compelling questions of that particular moment, most of which are already long buried.
His breathless exhumation of the specifics of the invention of the cover system within the first person shooter, for example, is already more a study in how quickly the innovative becomes familiar than an article worth more than purely historical interest.
Bissell writes in three essential modes: The first is an analysis of the narrative incoherence of videogames, and this he does well, repeatedly teasing out the dissonant aspects of the recognized classics without diminishing their importance.
The second operates as a memoir - his life seen through videogames, culminating in a largely self-destructive collision of Grand Theft Auto and cocaine which nearly ended his career as a writer.
The last, and least successful, are his forays into videogame journalism, which are often fan-boyish interviews with personalities already familiar to the gaming community and mostly dulling to everyone else.
In the end, not enough time is actually spent on why video games do matter to take this book out of the category of personal memoir and into something more important.
They're only getting better.
I look forward to watching my kids enjoy them while I do the dishes.
Some cool essays about video games, characterization, and why some are more entertaining than others.
I didn't need the tedious info on gaming design conventions or the author's old cocaine habit.
Didn't answer the "why video games matter" of the title, but if you have even a passing interest in video games you may be interested in the opinions here.
ReedIII Quick Review: Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.
Are video games both art and entertainment?
This very personal book never actually answers the questions proposed or promoted in the title.
However the book does give gamers and non-gamers good ways to view games in general and some games specifically.
Tom Bissell born 1974 is a journalist, critic, and fiction writer.
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
We are, in effect, admitting that we like to spend our time shooting monsters, and They are, not unreasonably, failing to find the value in that.
Stories are about time passing and narrative progression.
Games are about challenge, which frustrates the passing of time and impedes narrative progression.
The story force wants to go forward and the "friction force" of challenge tries to hold story back.
This is the conflict at the heart of the narrative game, one that game designers have thus far imperfectly addressed by making story the reward of a successfully met challenge.

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