Posts Tagged ‘books’

Wot I Read: Blizzard Biography ‘Stay Awhile And Listen’

By Alec Meer on December 18th, 2013.

Stay Awhile And Listen: How Two Blizzards Unleashed Diablo And Forged A Videogame Empire is David L. Craddock’s ebook unofficial biography of… well, it’s in the title, isn’t it? Consisting of reminisces from Blizzard staff, design insight and a document of how the then-games industry worked, it’s the tale of how plucky start-up Condor Inc became Blizzard North and created the grandaddy of action RPGs.
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Wot I Think: Wargames – From Gladiators To Gigabytes

By Tim Stone on July 5th, 2013.

Have you ever stopped to consider the origins of wargaming? Have you ever contemplated wargaming’s constantly changing relationship with the slavering hellbeast that is War? Martin van Creveld, an Emeritus Professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, has. He’s been thinking about questions like these for the last 25 years. The result is a new book called Wargames: From Gladiators to Gigabytes. I’ve read it and this is Wot I Think.

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Wot I Read – YOU: A Novel by Austin Grossman

By Alec Meer on June 1st, 2013.

They’re clearly lacing the drinking water at Arkane with Creative Itch Juice, as both Dishonored’s co-lead Harvey Smith and one of its writers, Austin Grossman, have put out novels in the last couple of months. Of course, both are esteemed games industry figures from long before that, having worked in the fabled Looking Glass/Ion Storm mines and contributed to some of the most-respected titles in PC gaming history. Unsurprising, then, that they’d have something to say about their experiences. I’m yet to read Smith’s Big Jack Is Dead – that’s next on my list – but I have made my way through YOU, Grossman’s fiction-ode to videogame development and his first novel since the popular supervillain tale Soon I Will Be Invincible.
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Wot I Read – BioShock Infinite: Mind In Revolt

By Alec Meer on February 13th, 2013.

Matters are rather different for the third BioShock game than they were for the first. While Irrational’s original had to grab attention from a machinegun-crazed mass audience, their next one comes with built-in renown, potentially affording the studio more opportunity and freedom to indulge themselves in other aspects of the game. Where BioShock’s undersea city of Rapture was, in hindsight, much more of a concept than a functioning place, BioShock Infinite’s floating metropolis Columbia seems to be striving harder to have an explicable and finely-sketched society.

Reflecting this is newly-released ebook novella Mind In Revolt, by Irrational’s Joe Fielder with assistance from Ken Levine, which could technically be described as a prequel but seems more designed to flesh out the social pressures bubbling under Columbia’s utopian surface in the way that the rollercoaster ride of an action videogame might not.
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Wot I Read: Christopher Brookmyre’s Bedlam

By Alec Meer on January 28th, 2013.

There have been many novels about videogames, as a visit to the Halo- and Mass Effect-strewn shelves of your local bookshop’s sci-fi and fantasy section will reveal, but rather more rare are the novels about videogaming. Bedlam, a new sci-fi novel by renowned Scottish crime author Christopher Brookmyre, both is and isn’t about videogaming. While it is centred around a high-concept take on the PC shooters of the early-to-mid 1990s, Brookmyre’s own electronic weapons of choice, it’s as much a plunge into a Tron-esque digital-made-flesh fantasy as it is an examination of why we play.
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Wot I Read – X-COM UFO Defense, A Novel

By Alec Meer on November 9th, 2012.

The Stunday Papers

Somehow, I wasn’t aware that there was an official novelisation of 1993 strategy/everything game X-COM until just last month. Given my decades-long fixation with X-COM, this was rather like discovering that there was a book about my mum that had passed me by completely.

Diane Duane’s slim text X-COM: UFO Defense – A Novel, published in 1996 by game guide firm Prima, has long been out of print (and never made it to e-print), so despite long scouring of fansites my only option was to explore the secondhand market, which in general wanted over £20 for this 250-page paperback. One joker’s even asking £500 for it. Fortunately, a lucky eBay bid got it to me for a mere £11, and so it is that I now own this fascinating oddity: a novelisation of a strategy game, written by an author with a long history of penning books based on existent sci-fi franchises. Could it truly recreate the tension and horror of X-COM? The thoughtful trauma of the minute-to-minute decisions and the long game of base-building and troop-nurturing?
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Escaping, Or Taking Refuge?

By Jim Rossignol on December 17th, 2007.

Professional gaming academic Ted Castronova has been talking about his new book, Exodus to the Virtual World: How Online Fun Is Changing Reality, and he’s been saying the kinds of things that have been playing on my mind a whole lot in recent months. How valuable is our gaming escapism? And what does it mean to spend so much time in virtual worlds? Ted’s book is about making some judgments, as he explained to the BBC:

“If reality is a bad thing, and people are going into virtual worlds to reconnect, the word you would deploy is refuge,” he said.

“A father of two spending 90 hours a week in a virtual world because he doesn’t like his wife – I would say that’s escapism, and it isn’t anything you would say is good.

“But if it’s a heavy-set girl from a small town who gets victimised just because her body isn’t the ‘right’ kind of body, and she goes online to make friends because she can’t get a fair shake in the real world, then I would say the virtual world is more of a refuge.”

So are you escaping, or taking refuge, readers?

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Rapture’s Required Reading

By Kieron Gillen on August 22nd, 2007.

I love things like this. I’ve got into some of my favourite things via creators of things I’ve loved recommending them – following the trails to interesting places. Because if they’ve inspired something you’ve loved, they’ve got to be pretty good, yeah? That thought process has lead me to everything from Vonnegut to the Buzzcocks to Nethack.

Anyway, Gametap asked Ken Levine for his list of works which kept the Irrational team’s creative engines fully stoked up. For example…

Animal Farm: (Book, 1945)
“You really only need to read this one book to understand power and what it does to people; it’s the ultimate story of what happens when ideals slam into less than ideal people.”

Miller’s Crossing (Film, 1990)
“My favorite film of all time. It’s all dialogue, style, and more interconnected plot threads than you can possibly comprehend in one viewing; probably why I’ve seen it 20 times. A huge inspiration when trying to create the slang and language tonality of the city of Rapture.”

More in the full article including the music-inspiring Sweet and Lowdown, the Rand double-combo of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, the entire city of New York and Gilliam’s retro-sci-fi opus Brazil (For the record, which is in at least half of RPS’ staffs’ top 5 films ever).

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