You Should Read This Excellent Book About Games

Jim Rossignol is a UK games writer. As well as writing for PC Gamer, Eurogamer and Rock, Paper, Shotgun, he wrote a book called This Gaming Life. You can now read it in full online.

This Gaming Life details Rossignol's own life as a gamer and the lives of many other gamers from all walks of life and corners of the globe. He observes recurring patterns and analyses common themes. Key to his understanding of the appeal of gaming is its function as a way to relieve boredom.

But I'll let Rossignol himself explain it a bit better:

Video games changed my life. It’s a pleasing convenience to be able to pinpoint a moment, or at least a period of time, that enables me to chart the change so precisely. Thanks to my Quake expertise, I was soon in a full-time job that didn’t have anything to do with corporate treasury issues or early morning meetings in bank seminar rooms. It was a radical shift both professionally and personally, and it was almost entirely unexpected. After all, games might have been crucial to my day-to-day identity, but I had never admitted as much to myself. They were a distraction, an excellent waste of time. They had no specific value, and I never expected my obsession to pay the rent and focus my entire career.

As a games journalist, I went on to meet plenty of other people whose lives have been changed, defined—perhaps even saved—by gaming. Many of the gamers I’ve met have been involved directly in the games industry, but others are simply people for whom gaming is a continuous presence in their lives. Games have catalyzed major changes for some of these people, as they did for me. But they usually change us in subtler ways. These subtler effects have only begun to be mapped by researchers, commentators, and gamers. Sometimes the effects seem to be negative: people so distracted that they lose sight of their responsibilities—ignoring jobs, families, and everyday lives. Other times they are positive—stimulating intellectual and personal growth or awakening unrealized ambitions in creative minds. Gaming seems to be neither wholly positive nor entirely negative: its value (or lack thereof) is indistinct and undefined. Perhaps more critically still, many people lack the conceptual vocabulary to describe games in a positive way at all. One of the most routine complaints in the games industry is “My parents/partner/peers still don’t believe I have a proper job.” It’s not just that many people don’t take gaming seriously, they don’t know how to take it seriously. And why would they, if their only experience of it was a drunken game of NHL Hockey after a night out at a singles bar or the weird Japanese cartoon creatures that a younger brother or sister seems to care so much about?

I am going to try to persuade you here that games are worth paying attention to. They are worth taking seriously and thinking and talking about in some detail. They might even be a very good thing for our culture as a whole. But what is most important to my analysis is the fact of video games’ ambiguous social value: they’re beloved by gamers and derided or dismissed by the uninitiated. Of course, I might not be able to resolve that ambiguity, but I do intend to offer snapshots of gaming life that will make it a little clearer why gamers themselves value games—or at least some games—to the extent they do.

Full Free Digital Version Of Jim's Book [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]


    I can't believe this is free. It is almost too good to giveaway like that! But at the same time I am delighted that more people will now be able to enjoy it and hopefully have their eyes opened by Jim's experience.

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