17th June 2009

This Gaming Life – Review

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This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities
Author: Jim Rossignol
May 2008
224 Pages

There is much about this book which I liked, particularly the fairly in-depth look at the Korean gaming culture and how it differs from that in the west. It was also interesting to read about the political movements within games and how they have been used as protest platforms. I feel that as a person who is both a gamer and a person who works in the gaming industry, This Gaming Life brings to light many of the reasons why people play video games – for the challenges, social experiences or to simply escape the stresses of every day life. One of the other reasons given by the author is that gamers game to stave off boredom.

Jim Rossignol raises some very valid points on how the activity of playing video games has grown to become a central part of today’s culture, such as the social components in today’s games and the scientific studies being conducted to better understand the effect of video games on the human countenance. He examines at length the pros and cons of becoming engrossed in games, as well as some of the educational aspects. Topics also covered are the varying levels of importance some game development studios put on gamer interaction with development through gamer-made mods or playing the game in ways not expected by the developers. This is something which I have heard discussed at many game development conferences – that gamers will always find some way to play the game that was outside of the project vision.

The one aspect of this book which I didn’t enjoy was the amount of time spent discussing the game play and player experience in EVE Online. In some ways I felt that due to this, the book became more about EVE than about the lives of gamers on a whole. While the book is meant to speak about Mr. Rossignol’s own experiences in the game world, the first chapter or so of This Gaming Life leads the reader to believe that the book will look at the inner psyche of the gamer community. In this aspect I was somewhat disappointed in the book’s content, as there was so much material left uncovered.

All in all, though, this is still a book I would recommend, particularly to those who are or want to be game developers. Through the coverage of such topics as Second Life and the EVE Online convention in Iceland, This Gaming Life does bring to the forefront the importance of games to the people who play them. Also of importance are the possibilities of becoming involved in the game development industry by beginning as a modder, an activity which carries its own importance within the gaming community, and which Mr. Rossignol demonstrated through the founding and growth of the UK studio, Splash Damage.

If you are interested in buying this book, you can find full purchase information at Amazon by clicking the book cover image above.

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