We should bring the backchannel back. I'll start: I am SO SO SO full. I should have worn sweatpants today.
While I think Extra Lives heeds Juul's call for researchers and scholars who play video games to explore the medium, Bissell's exploration is superficial at best, even bordering on destructive. Had the final chapter, "Grand Thefts," been the introduction of a book that explores questions about what games do and can do for the gamer, Extra Lives might've amounted to more than a cautionary tale of video game addiction. As it stands, it s as much fuel to mainstream anti-gaming hysteria as it is a literacy autobiography of a gamer.
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE
Extra Lives Appendix: The Future
I want to start this blog post with a simple question: When did movies stop being a reinvention of the novel? This isn’t to say that I think movies should only be a reinvention of another media. And I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be elements of a novel in the movies. What I’m getting at is a point that I wish Tom Bissell and other video game critics/theorists (I’m not really sure which one he is and perhaps that is telling) would realize:
Video games are not like anything else, so please stop comparing them to the various other media.
Having pushed through Extra Lives, I'd like to comment briefly on the book, push into a story that my title gains its name from, and then do some reflecting on the RPG of the days of lore as the product of nostalgia and the like.
The most interesting aspect of Bissell's Extra Lives is the way he weaves his personal life with video game references. The "extra lives" so-to-speak, where players' experiences in-game become a part of their personal experiences. Whether with a personal character or as part of a larger narrative, successes and failures become ingrained in the user. Link may be a character, but when it comes to relating to friends on who beat Ganon last night, it is most certainly not Link. "I" beat that level, "we" defeated them. And so on.
I agree with Caitlin’s post, in that this book seems like a combination of reverence for games, an apology for games, an accusation of games, and a forlorn look at the potential of games. What I liked most about Bissell’s book was his obvious gamer cred. As opposed to Flannigan’s book last week, Bissell clearly loved games and wanted to write about games and games alone.