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Starred Review. Grand Theft Auto IV is both a waste of time and the most colossal creative achievement of the last 25 years, according to this scintillating meditation on the promise and discontents of video games. Journalist Bissell (Chasing the Sea) should know; the ultraviolent car-chase-and-hookers game was his constant pastime during a months-long intercontinental cocaine binge. He's ashamed of his video habit, but also ashamed of being ashamed of the dominant art form of our time; by turning the eye of a literary critic on the gory, seemingly puerile genre of ultraviolent, open-ended shooter games, he finds unexpected riches. Bissell bemoans the uncompromising stupidity of their story lines, wafer-thin characters, and the moronic dialogue, but celebrates the button-pushing, mesmeric qualities and the subtle, profound depths these conceal—the catharses of teamwork and heroism in the zombie-fest Left for Dead, the squirmy moral dilemmas of Mass Effect, the mood of wistful savagery suffusing the rifles-and-chainsaws-bedecked denizens of Gears of War. Bissell excels both at intellectual commentary and evocative reportage on the experience of playing games, while serving up engrossing mise-en-scène narratives of the mayhem. If anyone can bridge the aesthetic chasm between readers and gamers, he can.(June 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Contents:
Fallout --
Headshots --
The unbearable lightness of games --
The grammar of fun --
Littlebigproblems --
Braided --
Mass effects --
Far cries --
Grand thefts.
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Books, Nonfiction, Video Game History

Details

ISBN-10:  0307378705
ISBN-13:  978-0307378705
Author:  Tom Bissell
Genre:  Professional & Technical, Computers & Internet
Publisher:  Pantheon
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review by . June 13, 2010
From the subtitle, I'd feared that this would be a lengthy academic treatise, written by someone who's more interested in the idea of video games than the games themselves. Instead, this series of essays is a riveting reflection on the author's own love-hate relationship with games, as they alternately delight and frustrate him.    I share many of the author's views (and many of his favorite games). Fallout 3, for instance, is a game of awesome scope, allowing the player to walk …
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Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter
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