Monday, 20 February 2012


I'm sloooooooooowly tapping out a review of two books I read over Waitangi weekend, before my brain went on the fritz due to the annual overload of Kiwi Foo Camp and Webstock: Tom Bissell's Extra Lives and Pippin Barr's How to play a video game.

The aspect of Barr's book that really struck me was his notion of playing games against the grain - departing from the central narrative in order to explore the world you're in, or departing from the given context to play the game from a different perspective.

Barr's latest blog post is on another writer's article, Line Hollis on tragedy in video games, and picks up somewhat on this theme:
I think it’s simply true that we, as players, need to get our shit together a bit and attempt to engage with the drama of the games we play. If it’s really true that we’re incapable of choosing a tragic ending, then to my mind that suggests a degree of apathy and weakness of spirit on our part and we ought to train ourselves to be stronger participants. It would help, of course, if games themselves respected us more in this same way, but it’s clearly a shared problem, not the pure responsibility of game makers.
At the risk of sounding all Shit Non-Players Say About Video Games, these two books have introduced me to a medium to which I've previously given very little thought. It means that now I click through to things like this article about the career (and death) of the video game artist Adam Adamowicz, and feel a new sense of interest and understanding. It's the gift that good writers give you.

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