I Read Stuff!

Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Extra Lives

I finished reading Extra Lives by Tom Bissell before it is available to the public. A friend loaned me his 'Bound Galley', which are advanced copies handed out for review. Somehow the book is cooler for being pre-release.

Anyway, it's an interesting read if you play games, but it's an excellent read if you have played most of the AAA titles in the last 5 years. The author walks through a number of his emotional moments in gaming, of which I shared similar moments but vastly different experiences in the very same games. If you haven't freed the Little Lamplighters from the Slavers or made the choice between Kaidan and Williams, then I'm not sure you're going to understand his connection to characters he simultaneously lambastes and lauds.

The writing is funny and insightful, though his more literary background does show up in an odd mixture of obscure references and detailed definitions. For instance, he explains that a bug is an 'instance in which the game behaves in a way that is not intended'. Yet, on the previous page he drops a John Gardner reference like it's immediately obvious who John Gardner is and why he is important.

What Bissell really nails is an understanding of where games really shine, the direction designers should explore if they ever hope to convince the Eberts of the world. The key is in the unique and highly personal experience of the individual gamer.

Capturing what playing Left 4 Dead feels like is not easy. But set Left 4 Dead to its highest difficulty level, recruit three of its best players you can find, push your way through one of the game's four scenarios, and make no mistake: What will go down will be so emotionally grueling, it will feel as though you have spent an hour playing something like full-contact psychic football. The end of the game, however it turns out, will feel epic to no one who did not take part in it, but those who did take part will feel as though they have marched, together, through a gauntlet of the damned.

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Games
GameInterestRelease Date
Civilization IV1
C&C 31
Company of Heroes1
Half Life 21
Half Life 2: Episode One1
Supreme Commander1
Call of Duty 22
Darwinia2
Dungeon Runners2
Dungeon Siege II2
Far Cry2
Galactic Civilization II2
Hitman: Blood Money2
Jade Empire2
Neverwinter Nights 22
Prey2
Psychonauts2
Sam & Max: Episode 12
Titan Quest2
Dark Messiah Might and Magic3
Defcon3
Heroes of Might and Magic V3
Indigo Prophecy3
KOTOR II3
LEGO Star Wars3
Marvel Ultimate Alliance3
Space Rangers 2: The Rise of the Dominators3
STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl3
Stubbs the Zombie3
War Front3
Warhammer: Mark of Chaos3
Infernal35/8/2007
Shadowrun25/9/07
Pirates of the Burning SeaM6/1/2007
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars?6/5/2007
Two Worlds?6/26/07
Sins of A Solar Empire?8/1/2007
BioShock18/21/2007
Mass Effect19/7/07
Age of ConanM10/30/07
Crysis1Fall 2007
Elveon?Fall 2007
Half-Life 2: Episode Two1Fall 2007
Portals1Fall 2007
Spore1Fall 2007
Stranglehold?Fall 2007
Tabula RasaMFall 2007
Team Fortress 22Fall 2007
Dragon Age?Winter 2007
Fable 2?Winter 2007
Field Ops?Winter 2007
Halo Wars?Winter 2007
Gods & Heroes: Rome RisingMWinter 2007
Haze?Winter 2007
Hellgate: London1Winter 2007
HuxleyMWinter 2007
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men?Winter 2007
Left 4 Dead?Winter 2007
The AgencyMSpring 2008
Empire Earth III?Spring 2008
Guild Wars 2 MSpring 2008
Jericho?Spring 2008
Sacred 2?Spring 2008
Savage 2?Spring 2008
Time Shift2Spring 2008
Universe at War: Earth Assault3Spring 2008
The Witcher?Spring 2008
CellFactor?2008
Darkest of Days?2008
On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkeness: Episode 122008
Warhammer OnlineM2008
Alliance: The Silent War??
Alone in the Dark??
Assassin's Creed??
BioWare MMO??
The Crossing??
Dungeon Hero??
Fallout 3??
Lego Batman??
Mythos??
Overloard??
Space Seige??
Culdcept SagaPC??
Gears of WarPC??
God of WarPC??
Beautiful KatamariPC??
OkamiPC??
Resistance: Fall of ManPC??
Odin's SpherePC??
Castle CrashersPC??

1 - I will buy it
2 - I'll buy it at discount
3 - Other people think it's good, but I wasn't interested when I first heard about it
M - Mainly Multiplayer. See if friends get interested.
? - Find out more about this game
PC? - Will it be released on the PC?