Originally written for KillaNet Community Resources in 2007
I was privileged to be sent an advance PDF copy of The Book of Games Volume 2 by author Bendik Stang, and having now completed my reading of this volume in one evening, I am eagerly looking forward to the print version. The Book of Games Vol. 2 has matured exponentially over its previous incarnation, which I feel is very appropriate as Volume 2 has a very pointed focus on the maturity which the videogame industry as a whole is experiencing. While I am still disappointed in regards to the lack of coverage in regards to the Guild Wars properties, that is largely due to personal bias, as I am a casually hardcore Guild Wars player. Now that I have my only truly negative viewpoint out of the way, let’s move on to the good stuff.
I was extremely impressed with the amount of research which had obviously gone into the production of Volume 2, as well as the new features which had been added for the individual game listings and ratings. These additions show that the authors listened to those who took the time to give them feedback on Volume 1, and as such have made themselves a part of the gaming community in a way which some authors never achieve, no matter how knowledgeable they may be on their topics. Another interesting sidenote was seeing another book which I am in process of reviewing featured in a sidebar in this book. As a journalist with a heavy research addiction, I always consider how useful a publication will be to me on my endless quest for knowledge, and The Book of Games Volume 2 passed that consideration with ease. There are many, many sources for further reading and education.
While The Book of Games Volume 1 was a handy reference for the parents and relatives of gamers, Volume 2 fully opens up the changing videogame industry, from development to tournaments and beyond. The authors have successfully put the industry into a nutshell – one which gamers, teachers, parents and even grandparents will appreciate. This volume has every component of the videogame world between its covers, and takes a look at every aspect in a well-worded, well-researched, and well-presented manner. Every chapter contains evidence of how videogames have become an integral part of our lives in the 21st century – from those who pick up a quick game of solitaire to those who travel the pro-gamer circuits. One photo I could immediately relate to was that of Norway’s Olav Undheim, winner of the 2007 World Cyber Games Grand Final Warcraft III Tournament. I saw that match, along with all of the other events held on that final game day in Seattle this past October. I was there when Olav hoisted that $ 20 000.00 cheque over his head at the medals presentation – and that’s what this industry called videogaming has at its core – a vibrant, global community – one which we experience at our own annual LAN tournament, and one which The Book of Games Volume 2 has opened to the world.
I think that this book will do more to bring an understanding of the videogame culture to non-gamers than any collection of web sites and media articles could possibly do. Parents everywhere will benefit from this book, while gamers will embrace this book for the validation it brings to our gaming culture. The Book of Games Volume 2 is an excellent counter-weight to those who vocalize loud and long their negative views on the gaming industry as a whole. I challenge those who, without really understanding what videogames are truly all about to pick up this book and read it. Understand what draws those of us who game into our multi-pixelled worlds. The artwork is amazing, the music is incredible, and the passion insurmountable. As the owner of a company which has been trying unsuccessfully for three years to obtain a business license for a digital media centre for youth in our hometown, I would love to see the members of our Township council who oppose us, as well as those in the licensing department who insist on calling us an arcade, read this book. The Book of Games Volume 2, I believe, will become a very useful tool for those of us who are not only proud members of the gaming culture, we support the up and coming designers of tomorrow and all of the possibilities the world of gaming has opened to them, whether they become game designers, engineers, architects or even doctors.
I whole-heartedly give The Book of Games Volume 2 a five star rating, and if there have been this many improvements in the series just between volumes 1 and 2, I can hardly wait until I get a look at Volume 3 which will be out in November 2008. To the authors I say “this is a work to be proud of, a job very well done.”