Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

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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 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. Along the way, we get firsthand portraits of some of the best minds (Jonathan Blow, Clint Hocking, Cliff Bleszinski, Peter Molyneux) at work in video game design today, as well as a shattering and deeply moving final chapter that describes, in searing detail, Bissell’s descent into the world of Grand Theft Auto IV, a game whose themes mirror his own increasingly self-destructive compulsions.
 
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.

Title:Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780307378705
Format Type:

    Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter Reviews

  • Johnny

    The title of this book is Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. I normally wouldn’t begin a review with such a mundane sentence, but it is vital to understanding my reaction to the book. The eponymou...

  • Mark

    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 ha...

  • Matt

    Though I don’t play as often as I used to, I consider myself a gamer. 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. Unfo...

  • Megan

    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...

  • Phoenix

    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 fi...

  • Patrick Brown

    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...

  • Megan

    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 enric...

  • Adman

    in order to clarify to readers what sort of treatment they are in store for, this book deserves a more thematically and stylistically accurate title, perhaps along the lines of, "extra lives: shooters...

  • Bon Tom

    Ya, bad choice of title, really bad. If you pay attention, you'll get the answer at one of the last pages, but majority of book wasn't about title at all. It's more chronology of author's experience w...

  • Rachel

    "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 t...