Game Review

Book Review - Extra Lives

Everyone who plays videogames does so for different reasons, and there's no better source of argument than trying to pin down the universal reasons for "Why Video Games Matter". It was surprising then to find Extra Lives : Why Video Games Matter by Tim Bissel such an enjoyable and recommendable a read, but a part of that may be a purposeful deception on the author's part.

Initially, I thought it focused on the wrong games, and was a mistaken assessment of gaming's recent accomplishments as an art form. The table of contents read like the movie list of a hardcore film enthusiast…the type of games you'd check off as the "see how far games have come? SEE?" mentality that I found silly when I first saw it and still do today.

But in truth this is a man's personal journey into his relationship with videogames, and Bissel does a fantastic job of pulling us into a mindset so alien to our own with just the right amount of humor, self-deprecation, and even humility. What we read is a candid assessment of a man who has often lived through various amounts of depression, desperation, isolation, and addiction, almost always with a videogame controller at his side. From his bandit killing ventures of the Capital Wasteland to the crime sprees of Liberty City, every account reveals more about the author than it ever could about the games he was playing, and the author knows it.

At the end of the day, if you've never heard of a Master Chief or Solid Snake, and the word videogame conjures up images of Pong or Pac Man, don't expect to understand why you should pick up a controller today. You will, however, understand how people could play the Grand Theft Autos and Mass Effects of the universe, and still go on to be human. And for those who do know their Halo from their Call of Duty, it's still an interesting read into why someone else plays the games you love . . . or even the games you hate.

Final Score: Read the Book!