Friday, April 15, 2016

Drive By Book Review: The State of Play: Creators and Critics on Video Game Culture

The State of Play: Creators and Critics on Video Game Culture, Edited by Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson.

With it's bright orange cover, The State of Play immediately announces that overly subtle academiceze will not be in play--though insight and intelligence is widely displayed. This little book contains 13 diverse essays that, as the title suggests, explores video game culture from the inside. 

Forget Fox Channel clich├ęs about video games causing violence. This issue isn’t ignored; it’s handled in a sophisticated enough way that, as Cara Ellison and Brendan Keogh write in “The Joy of Virtual Violence,” “It's the rest of the world that needs to catch up” (155).

Essays range from straight on commentaries on gender discrimination—a more critical issue than violence for most gamers—representation of race and ethnicity, to esoteric explorations of identity, as in Ola Wikander’s “The God in the Machine”:  

“There is an interesting relationship that can be imagined between this type of Gnostic mythology and the role of the video game player in relation to the character he or she plays. Just like the fallen human soul described by Gnostic religions, the video game player steps into a false world that only exists for as long as one believes in it” (246).

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