Book Pimp: Last Time, Maybe

Thousands of satisfied gamers have been caressing their exquisite hardcover copies of my obscenely fascinating book about videogames, This Gaming Life, and you can too! It’s true. Click onwards for some more information on what some critics are calling “the best book that Jim wrote about videogames to be published this year”, as well as alternative ordering methods for folks unable to obtain a copy in Europe.

This Gaming Life, published by The University of Michigan Press, is about gamers and their relationship to games. It’s a ripe barrel of essays on gaming, as filtered through the lens of my own international travels and videogaming obsessions. Reporting from London, Reykjavik and Seoul, I investigate all kinds of gaming, especially that pesky PC gaming that I keep banging on about via the interweb. I muse on Nintendo-trained surgeons, Quake III zealots, military propaganda, Will Wright, Eve Online, cute girls in pink dresses, Starcraft in Korea, Chinese online riots, prosthetic reality, science fiction, Henry Jenkins, unemployment, boredom, obsession, our enemy Boris Johnson, and Okami. I’ve never worked so hard in my entire life.

You can see some extracts of the book, and perhaps even glimpse a hint of the book’s lexicographic opulence, in this Google preview thing.

But don’t just take it from me…

Splash Damage’s senior designer Ed Stern said: “It does a far better job of explaining what being into games is like than I ever have, which is why I’ve just ordered multiple copies for my parents and siblings to act as advocates to explain what the hell it is that I do and why it’s fun.”

Massively columnist Cameron Sorden said: “If you’re serious about games and the culture of gaming, the read is worth the price of admission.”

And some other guy said it was rubbish, but he was wrong.

Americans! Obtain your copy here.

Europeans, try here, or, for a quicker dispatch, the official distributors here.



  1. Lu-Tze says:

    The food you are eating is paid for by me! That means I own you!

  2. phuzz says:

    It turned up after not too much of a wait from amazon uk.
    Already trying to work out how to get my mum to read it in the hope it explains exactly what her son is up to half the time…

  3. Jim Rossignol says:

    I am owned by who I eat?

  4. Ian says:

    I agree with Lu-Tze.

    I haven’t ordered it yet, but suffice to say when I do I shall be sending you a list of bargain foods you must buy with the money.

    The longer my food-money lasts, the longer you shall be my lackey.

  5. ImperialCreed says:

    My copy arrived recently and I’m half-way through. It’s a great read Jim and if any RPS-ites (-ers?-ians?) still haven’t picked it up you really should. Even as just a travelogue (and it’s much more) it’s fascinating. Oh, and thanks for talking to me about it not so long ago – I can tell you that in terms of traffic you are about 37% as popular as Chris Livingston. Which seems a bit of a shame really.

  6. Sahagin says:

    Am I the only person who spends the majority of the day playing games on my days off?

  7. Zerimski says:

    My copy arrived last week so I’ve been reading it on the train. I’m really enjoying it.

  8. Arienette says:

    I’d love to purchase it but alas I’m a poor student, are there any plans for a paperback? (he says, not knowing how the publishing industry works)

  9. Jim Rossignol says:

    I don’t really know how that works either. I think it gets a paperback if I sell enough hardcopies.

  10. Flint says:

    I’m somewhat interested in getting it but I’m not sure. I’m really interested of the Korea section of the book but the other two “areas” leave me kinda cold and as such I don’t know if I should get it at some point or not :/. Is it really strict on those areas topic-wise, or do they just serve as a background/glue for whatever game-rambling that came up in the mind?

    Anyway, we shall see.

  11. Louis says:


    Out of pure interest what did the bad review have to say about it?

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    I was actually joking about that, but there have been a few justified criticisms here and there, and a few people who didn’t connect with it – such the reader review on

  13. tom says:

    Is that your mum giving you 5 stars on amazon?

  14. Jim Rossignol says:

    My sister, actually.

  15. Cooper says:

    Ditto on the ‘poor student’ excuse.
    I’ve suggested the library here gets themselves a copy (so I have a chance to read it), and will hold out for my phd funds next year and get refunded on the book as ‘academic material’.

    Which basically means the taxes Jim’s paying on the proceeds go towards free copies for crusty-student types. Thumbs up for irony.

  16. Colinmarc says:

    I tweaked your mom’s gizmometer…

  17. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Good book. Slightly more slender than I was expecting but ’twas an ideal snack to savour between volumes of the Night’s Dawn trilogy.

    Is it really strict on those areas topic-wise, or do they just serve as a background/glue for whatever game-rambling that came up in the mind?

    More the latter really, for example the Seoul section moves on from Korea to look at games as propaganda and the Serious Gaming Initiative among other areas.

  18. KindredPhantom says:

    Read? Books? Pfft

  19. RichPowers says:

    The cover must immediately be made into a poster.

  20. A-Scale says:

    Say, I go to U of M!

  21. Jim Rossignol says:

    Yes, they’re more convenient brackets than anything else.

    London covers stuff like:

    – Quake III versus real life
    – The idea of boredom
    – Videogames as edification
    – Videogames as salvation and redemption
    – Modding
    – Guitar Heroics and Star Wars Lego men

    Seoul covers stuff like:

    – South Korean games scene
    – China
    – Propaganda and “serious” gaming
    – Human computation

    Reykjavik covers stuff like:

    – Eve Online and the Eve fanfest
    – Player-developer relations and symbiosis
    – User created content
    – The fundamental nature of games

    And the final section “Home” sees me wittering on about science fiction, the future, and the tension between the idea of games as entertainment, and their value as something other, greater medium, which is a theme throughout the book.

  22. ghotto says:

    Buying a hardback book is like buying the legendary edition of the game but without any extra material.

    Get it on paperback, and I’m sold.

  23. Dan (WR) says:

    I enjoyed it on the whole, although you lost me slightly when the book hit Iceland. I suspect that may be because I’d already read some of the things you have to say about EVE before.

    I enjoyed the section on Korea, and I particularly liked your ideas about boredom. There’s part of me that struggles to validate my love for videogames – probably because of my father’s alternating anger and disappointment in my videogames obsession. Even now it’s hard not to think of games as a guilty waste of time, when I should be doing something more… worthy. Reading your book made me think about that a little more, in a roundabout way.

  24. Louis says:

    Any chance of getting a signed copy?

  25. Kelduum says:

    Buying a hardback book is like buying a proper shrink-wrapped and boxed copy of a game, rather than some nasty pre-owned, cardboard-sleeved copy from eBay which comes complete with stains of indeterminate origin.

    Stop being cheapskates – the cover is worth it alone, and it looks much better when you are trying to get someone else to read it!

  26. Crispy says:

    Word to the wise: Use Eurospan instead of Amazon.

    Amazon UK sent me a dirty, soiled and ripped copy of Jim’s book. When I sent it back I was told by the biggest online book retailer in the world that they were out of copies and could not replace my copy. In fact, they went so far as to say they wouldn’t even put it on back order.

    Pathetic if you ask me, which is why I’m going to be ordering direct instead so I know that when I order a copy (in flawless condition) I will get a copy, and not a flimsy excuse.

  27. Arienette says:

    @ Man Raised By Puffins

    Yeh, the night’s dawn trilogy takes some time to read, I got through loads of other books in between reading the whole thing.

  28. EyeMessiah says:

    Does it have coop & 60fps?

  29. Ginger Yellow says:

    Received mine on Saturday and am now up to the Eve Online chapter. Good stuff, although I’d have liked to hear more about China. In particular, it seems odd to highlight China supporting games to promote nationalist cultural goals, without talking about their unprecedented (as far as I know) restrictions on gaming time. Or about the whole intellectual property issue.

    Similarly, in the section(s) on games as spectator sports, why no mention of the steps developers have taken to make in-game spectatorship more exciting/informative (eg Counterstrike Source, C&C 3)?

  30. InVinoVeritas says:

    Damn google preview cutting off mid-sentence! Well, page 1-22 was a very fine read. ::heads to Amazon to place an order::

  31. Jim Rossignol says:

    @Ginger Yellow: I’m hoping to get out to China later in the year to report on their gaming scene in more detail.

    Agreed that there’s a load more stuff I could have covered in that games-as-sports area, although I have to admit that it’s something that has always irked me outside Quake III. I want to play dagnamit!

  32. Putter says:

    Is this available in stores in Canada? I’ve actually been meaning to get this, so I’ll do Amazon if I have to.

  33. Matt says:

    I completely forgot about this! Good pimping, Jim. Consider mine ordered…. now.

  34. Gap Gen says:

    I finished it recently. Quite enjoyed it, even if I was massively tired when I read most of it.

    A lot of it is focussed on bringing non-gamers up to speed, although this is no bad thing (interestingly, how many non-gamers do you reckon have read it?) Some of it is a little confused – you admit as much that at the end you have no clear idea of what your conclusion should be. As a series of anecdotes held together by a kind of globetrotting narrative it works quite well.

    An idle point – on the subject of gamers being better prepared to shoot people, I think there is a grain of truth in this. The army found that when they increased the sophistication of their target in practice ranges (going from crosshairs to people cut-outs that fell over when shot) the proportion of conscripts who fired their weapons at the enemy without a senior officer being present went up dramatically. So even if the psychological impact of the killing is still there, the barrier to actually firing is probably decreased a bit. I’ll see if I can find the reference, but I can’t remember where I read it, I’m afraid. Maybe the Escapist?

  35. Joinn says:

    Look me up when in Reykjavik

  36. Trousers says:

    This yank just ordered it, first I had to make sure you were the one who wrote the “why I still play stalker” post.

    Strelok Sells Books

  37. Alex says:

    Gap Gen: Was this what you meant?

  38. Arnulf says:

    I read it. Actually read through it in two days. Liked it. Although I think it’s more a feel-good-about-my-chosen-lifestyle-as-a-gamer-book.

    Although I’m afraid for people outside it could be a bit too abstract. For instance I missed a good explanation of how playing EVE is like.

    Well, it’s easy for me to say this. For someone who is inside of this world for so long. Explaining to an outsder (you know these pesky politicians, lawyers, priests, principals, etc.) what that world is about is really hard.

    Hmmm.. just read my stuff and I fear it does not make sense.

    Let’s try again: I really liked the book. It explained my feelings why am I doing this and playing games as a hobby really well. There were many passages where I was going ‘Yes, this is it! That’s how I feel about it’.

    But for exactly the same reasons I’m afraid an outsider won’t get it. Know, what I’m saying?

  39. DMUNCH says:

    I’m ordering my copy in my next batch of stuff from amazon!

  40. Theory says:

    I’m enjoying the book immensely. Trouble is, I usually can’t read for more than a few pages without it giving me a great idea I have to go and write down in my (digital) notebook. :-)

    I’ve just got to Reykjavik.

  41. Nuyan says:

    Wrote a short review on my blog a while ago. I enjoyed the book as well.

  42. Dr_demento says:

    I really liked the first 22 pages on Google (note to publishers: I would buy so many more books if I could always do that, it’s a fantastic idea)… but I must echo Arienette and Cooper in the I-spent-all-my-money-on-hedonism camp. £16 is a lot of money for one book!

    However, would I be right in surmising that Amazon UK having sold out suggests it is doing quite well? And may be due a paperback edition? Sorry Jim, I don’t mean to ask personal questions…

  43. Martin says:

    I’m about 1/5th into the third book in the Night’s Dawn trilogy and even though it was six months since I read it I really would like to finish it during my vacation.

    Oh, Jims book looks ok I’spose. ;)

  44. Mike says:

    The opening chapters have left me severely wanting to quit my summer job and try and make it as a journalist. Which I unfortunately won’t do. But it’s a good tale.

  45. Gap Gen says:

    Alex: Yes, thanks.

  46. The Shed says:

    Seems really very good. Gonna have to swing by a Waterstones at some point; screw all you whippersnappers with your Amazon’s!

  47. MarvintheParanoidAndroid says:

    I must admit I haven’t bought this yet, but it’s been on my mental “books to buy in the near future” list since the last time it was posted about here. I should actually have some money soon as well, so I promise I will get around to buying it!

    Edit: “Availability: Temporarily out of stock.” Curse you, Amazon! Guess I’ll have to buy it from one of the third party sellers.

  48. Alex says:

    You need to eat and your solution was to write a book? Ha ha ha!! Good luck with that one, ha ha ha!!

    (I’ll pick up a copy in the near future, but still.. a book! Ha ha ha!!)

  49. Mr. Brand says:

    Hardcovers triple in price here..but I think I can get my smugglers in London on the case again :I

  50. Kismet says:

    I blame Iain M. Banks. His “The Algebraist” is preventing my order containing The Book from shipping, after magically turning from five days availability to six weeks like ten minutes after I placed my order. It should be almost there by now though.