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Smartbomb: The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution
Synopses & Reviews
The movie business celebrates its creators: Spielberg, DeMille, Scorsese, Hitchcock. But what about the “ names” behind Doom, The Sims, Donkey Kong, Grand Theft Auto—the games that spawned a ten-billion-dollar industry whose revenues surpassed the domestic movie box office take five years ago? Videogames are no longer a quirky, boom-or-bust subculture, but a bona fide mainstream industry revolutionizing the way we teach, the way we learn, the way we communicate.
Smartbomb goes into the epicenter of the videogame explosion, where computer technology is fused with artistic creativity. From the hackers at MIT in the 1960s to the Ferrari-driving developers of the modern-day industry to professional “cyberathletes,” we meet the celebrities of the gaming world. It’s a dizzying trip through the trade conventions, gaming competitions, and design labs of the men who are the Spielbergs of their field. Startling and revelatory, this is an up-close and personal look at the egos, the battles, the one-upmanship, and the love of the chase fueling these innovators who are creating the worlds in which we’re going to live and play for the next century.
"Freelance journalists (and married couple) Chaplin and Ruby team up for a wide-ranging look at the video-game industry. They dwell extensively on the corporations behind the games, from Nintendo's humble origins as a playing card manufacturer, to the extravagances of today's most popular game designers, who have earned millions by applying their world-class computer programming skills to increasingly complex imaginary worlds for players to explore, both peaceful (The Sims) and violent (Grand Theft Auto). The game players are the other major part of the story, and Ruby's experiences in the gaming community prove especially helpful as his role-playing character becomes intertwined with that of one of his interview subjects in online multiplayer games like Star Wars Galaxies (Ruby writes this portion in the third person and mentions his wife's frustrations with the time he spends online without naming her, underscoring the duo's efforts to make themselves invisible in the story). Much of the reporting takes place at gaming tournaments and industry expos, reinforcing the circuslike atmosphere. A chapter on the U.S. military's interest in using video games as both recruiting and training tools adds some gravity, but overall it's easiest to appreciate this work as a whirlwind subcultural tour. Agent, Daniel Greenberg. (Nov. 4)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
What started as a game of Pong, with little blips dancing across a computer screen, has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry that is changing the future, making inroads into virtually all aspects of our culture.Who are the minds behind this revolution? How did it happen? Where is it headed?
In Smartbomb, journalists Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby take the reader behind the scenes at gaming conventions, into powerhouse think tanks where new games are created, into the thick of the competition at cyberathlete tournaments, and into the homes of gamers for whom playing a role in a virtual world has assumed more relevance and reality than life in the real world.
Smartbomb takes you into the epicenter of the gaming explosion, where bleeding-edge computer sciene and wild creativity have fused to produce a new medium that is changing not only how we play but also how we communicate and learn, all of it propelled by a mega-billion-dollar industry that is revolutionizing the way we live.
About the Author
Heather Chaplin is a journalist who has written for many major publications, including the New York Times, Fortune, and Salon. She lives in New York City. This is her first book.Aaron Ruby has written extensively about the videogame industry and has reviewed videogames for Entertainment Weekly. He lives in New York City. This is his first book.
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