I’ve been trying to read actual books, lately. Shocking, I know, but I figure it will inspire me in some fashion. Besides, it makes for a good pastime while I reign on the Porcelain Throne.
I’m about halfway through Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas, which has actually been quite entertaining. It was recommended to me one night while on a Skype call with a group of friends and so I decided to give it a shot. The book tells the story of its titular character and his gift of being able to see the undead spirits around him; both the good and bad kind. It’s also a fast read, which I am happy for in my onset adult illiteracy.
Another book I recently picked up from the library is Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell. I had heard a bit of buzz about this one when it came out in 2010 and I figured – being about video games – it would be a title that is right in my wheelhouse. Little did I know what a struggle this book is to digest.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still planning on finishing it. However, I’m currently on the third of nine chapters and all I have gathered at this point is that the author hates video games. Everything he points out about them, especially when talking about extremely successful and popular titles, seem to give him a huge sense of shame and embarrassment. Even when he talks about a game he loves, Left 4 Dead, he finds a way to shape it into a down moment.
I’m hoping this elongated stretch of negativity is his version of a “rope-a-dope” and that things will eventually turn around in the end, but for now, his tone makes it a challenge to trudge through his work. It’s like having that friend who complains about everything and yet never does anything to fix it while you sit idly by, wondering what it is they actually do to have fun.
For example, here is the final paragraph of the third chapter:
I once raved about Left 4 Dead in a video-game emporium within earshot of the manager, a man I had previously heard angrily defend the position that lightsaber wounds are not necessarily cauterized. (His evidence: The tauntaun Han Solo disembowels in The Empire Strikes Back does, in fact, bleed.) “Left 4 Dead?” he asked me. “You liked it?” I admitted that I did. Very, very much. And him? “I liked it,” he said, grudgingly. “I just wish there was more story.” A few pimply malingerers, piqued by our exchange, nodded in assent. The overly caloric narrative content of so many games had caused these gentlemen to feel undernourished by the different narrative experience offered by Left 4 Dead. They, like the games they presumably loved, had become aesthetically obese. I then realized I was contrasting my aesthetic sensitivity to that of some teenagers about a game that concerns itself with shooting as many zombies as possible. It is moments like this that can make it so dispiritingly difficult to care about video games.
If you knew me at all, you would know that an opinion like this makes me rage with high intensity. If you hate the medium and/or the surrounding culture, then why be involved at all? If it’s that tough for you to care about games because you have to justify them to others, then stop. Stop playing, stop partaking, stop torturing yourself and do something you actually enjoy. Also, try not to criticize others’ physicality in the process. It doesn’t add anything to your point, sir.
There’s so much critique out there of this nature spanning multiple forms of media that I consciously neglect so that I, in turn, won’t become of similar thought. I love video games. I always have and always will. Sure, there are some I don’t like very much, and I will discuss that when I feel a need to, but I will never let a differing opinion affect the way I enjoy the things I like. My enjoyment is mine, and I refuse to be embarrassed of it.
I just hope I can enjoy this book before it ends.