20 June 2012

All Your Base Are Belong to Us

I'm not really a gamer. This is by choice because strategy and sim games are like crack or online gambling to me (not shooters, those aren't very interesting to my brain) - I can't stop once I start. The first time I played Civilization II with my then-boyfriend we were up for 36 hours straight to finally "win" it in some capacity. Rollercoaster Tycoon and SimCity sucked up my time - more rides, more Sims. I actually contemplated calling in sick to work once because a puzzle in Myst II had me so worked up I couldn't concentrate on anything else (I have yet to play Myst IV).

So I know about bits of gaming, even if it's not a major part of my life any more.  Hey, I grew up in the 80s, I had an Atari.

I like the breadth that Goldberg covers in All Your Base Are Belong to Us, all the way from Tennis for Two up to the early part of 2010 (right before the Angry Birds onslaught) and the glimpses inside the creative processes for video game innovators. Goldberg, for all that he's an insider, having worked at Sony Online, etc., pulls no punches with the realities of funding, creating, and releasing innovative, immersive, best-selling games. It provides some perspective to seeming rags-to-riches underdog stories.

What I didn't really like about the writing style was the uneven feel. One section would be more technical with regards to the business side or computing side of the story, the next would be filled with effusive fan-boy accolades, and the next would consist of conversation (Goldberg conducted over 200 hours of interviews with many of the game makers). It was a bit whiplash-like. There are no graphics (at least not in the ebook I read) and that, for me, was a bit hard because sometimes I couldn't recall the graphics for a game from 20 years ago. Liscensing and copyright probably contributed to that absence, but it would have been nice

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