Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four. He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days. If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.
Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games. In this, he is not alone. Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood. But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.
Extra Lives is an impassioned defense of this assailed and misunderstood art form. Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better. He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate. Along the way, we get firsthand portraits of some of the best minds (Jonathan Blow, Clint Hocking, Cliff Bleszinski, Peter Molyneux) at work in video game design today, as well as a shattering and deeply moving final chapter that describes, in searing detail, Bissell’s descent into the world of Grand Theft Auto IV, a game whose themes mirror his own increasingly self-destructive compulsions.
Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is like no other book on the subject ever published. Whether you love video games, loathe video games, or are merely curious about why they are becoming the dominant popular art form of our time, Extra Lives is required reading.

Title:Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

About Tom Bissell

Tom Bissell (born 1974) is a journalist, critic, and fiction writer.

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    Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter Reviews

  • Johnny

    The title of this book is Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. I normally wouldn’t begin a review with such a mundane sentence, but it is vital to understanding my reaction to the book. The eponymou...

  • Mark

    I'm a gamer, plain and simple. And what I find funny and part of the reason why I wanted to read this book is that, unlike movies and books and music, I can very seldom find myself in a position to ha...

  • Matt

    Though I don’t play as often as I used to, I consider myself a gamer. I like the idea of someone unpacking the idea of why video games matter, and I think that topic would make for a good book. Unfo...

  • Patrick Brown

    Now that I have a kid, I don't have time for anything but work and him, and, if I'm lucky, a few hours with my wife after the kid goes to sleep. Most nights, after putting him to bed and making dinner...

  • M.

    I enjoyed reading this book despite the glaring "literariness" of the writing. Oh right, and the fact that women only enter this book as prostitutes (also "whores" -- as in, "Las Vegas was the world's...

  • Megan

    The thing is, if you're going to write a nonfiction book and include some autobiographical elements, like your own experiences playing video games, you've got to face the fact that it can either enric...

  • Phoenix

    One of the most consistent criticisms I see in other negative reviews of this book is that Tom Bissell's tone is puzzlingly ambivalent. I have to unfortunately agree with this criticism, as after I fi...

  • Adam

    An attempt at serious critique of video games. The author looks at a handful of the bigger titles, some industry personalities, and gets some things off his chest. I take exception to the method in ap...

  • John Kelly

    It's a tough sell. The author has to make his book accessible enough for non-gamers, but still interesting enough for gamers of all levels. As a result, this book veers erratically between a genuinely...

  • Kathleen

    I think I come to this book from a much different direction than a lot of people: I'm not a gamer. Or rather, not any more. My days of gaming ended when I got married and had babies and I never ever g...