Understanding Video Games text-book
Review: Jim Rossignol’s This Gaming Life

Date posted: July 16, 2008

This Gaming LifeGame journalist Jim Rossignol has travelled far in his quest to answer core gaming questions: Why are they here? and what are they good for?

He tells the story of this journey, and reflects on these worthy topics throughout his new book This Gaming Life. From the story of the author being fortunate enough to be fired from a dull life of financial journalism and to recountings of his encounters with people at the cutting edge of gaming, Rossignol offers observations about current trends in gaming and the cultural position of the medium.

The form is strictly essayistic and the stylistic approach may remind the reader of previous journalistic takes on grand gamer questions such as J.C. Herz (humorous) Joystick Nation and Steven Johnsonís (lucidly written) Everything Bad is Good for You.

Unlike these other authors, however, Rossignol is undecided and even admits to quite conflicting emotions about the value of digital gaming. Video games provides pleasurable experiences for multitudes of people, but at the same time consume large amounts of time with little direct outcome beyond personal enjoyment.

Initially this humble approach feels refreshing. But the questions remain questions as the author prefers to offer a variety of observations to actually tackling the issues in any depth. The book may teach you a few facts and make you rethink old questions, but it wonít make you laugh, it wonít make you change your mind, and it wonít leave you much wiser than you were to begin with. Reading This Gaming Life wonít hurt you, but the hours may be better spent stopping some on-screen alien invasion.

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