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Book “Extra Lives” states the obvious: Gaming is fun!

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The subtitle of Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter doesn’t impress me. Saying “Video games matter” is kind of like saying “The Internet is really important” or “Reality TV is here to stay”; by now, everybody knows it, including my mother.

Moot point; the book isn’t even about why video games matter, it’s about why Tom Bissell likes playing video games. It’s one part pop sociology, three parts personal ode. And “likes” is probably an understatement. Bissell loves gaming.

The Details

Extra Lives
By Tom Bissell, Pantheon, $23
two stars

Bissell writes, “I have had friends and relatives die, lovers stray, and money run out, but I think I would still place being torn apart by zombies with an hour and a half of unsaved Resident Evil gameplay behind me in the upper quartile of Personally Miserable Experiences.”

If you’re a gamer, you know where Bissell is coming from. And if you’re not, you should know that Bissell isn’t alone. As Extra Lives makes clear, for many gamers, playing video games is an extremely emotional, time-consuming, soul-sucking experience.

Don’t believe that? Then go ahead and read Bissell’s book. Better yet, try your hand at Assassin’s Creed II.

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