Lisa Brown, July 06, 2011
(view all comments by Lisa Brown)
Full disclosure: I am not��"nor have I ever been��"a gamer. That being said, I have friends in the industry, so despite the fact that I do not own a console of any kind, video games are incredibly close to my heart. And Tom Bissell delivers the goods.
From the get-go, he lets it be known that his book will focus squarely on AAA titles with a narrative bent. Meanwhile, my favorite video games of all time are (not necessarily in order) Tetris, Duck Hunt, and Dr. Mario��"all of which have at best the most minor suggestion of story.
That I found the book absolutely fascinating speaks volumes to its relevance in the fields of critical theory, gaming, and pop culture. If you like story (books, films, theatre, the age-old oral tradition, any/all of the above), video games, visual and aural forms of art (whether high or low), then chances are Bissell will strike a chord with you.
The book's final chapter��"which delves into the author's battle with coke addiction in the heart of Sin City��"goes a little too confessional for my tastes (particularly in light of the fact that this is meant to be a work of criticism), but then again, it's a chapter about the Grand Theft Auto franchise, so really, it's decidedly apropos.
I typically reserve 5 stars for books that, upon finishing, I can confidently say that I wouldn't change a thing about them if given the chance. Though this book gets 5 stars handily, I did have one teeny, tiny gripe: In the Appendix, the author��"while discussing whether or not comedy is the next great untapped video game genre��"asks his interview subject if he's a fan of Monty Python, he is, and neither one of them makes any reference to 7th Level's Monty Python & the Quest for the Holy Grail. But throw in a Stephanie Meyer/Ibsen joke, and all is forgiven.
I'll definitely be seeking out works by Bissell in the future.