Portland, Oregon fiction writer, writing professor, and gamer, Tom Bissell, was interviewed in my local alternative weekly concurrent with the release of his book, Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. It’s a long, rambling interview that touches on, among other things, why Portal is so important, why most game reviews aren’t very good and how tedious it is actually writing for a game developer.
“There’s this whole world here that is not being written about.” And I think it’s not being written about because a lot of game journalists [are] just too deep in the world. The game writing that goes on in the game sites and the game magazines is really good for what it is, y’know? I mean, not really good, c’mon—but [while] some magazines are better than others and some writers are better than others, for the most part, it sets out to… give you a sense of what’s going on from an insider perspective, and [offer] a consumer’s guide kind of piece of writing telling you what to like or not to like about this game, and what’s good and what’s not good. What isn’t really in any of these experiences is what the emotional experience [of a game is], and what [are] the aesthetic realizations and the kind of personal emotional reactions that you have. There’s no personal account. There’s not even a place for it, really, in any of these magazines.
Bissell has written for such hoity-toity rags as the New Yorker and is an active and ardent gamer. His is an interesting take on where games are and where they are going. I’m not sure how deeply he’s gone into game journalism and I haven’t read the book. Some of this interview is boring but a lot of it is interesting. There is a link to a short print version in the first paragraph in case you just want to cut to the chase. Oh, and the book looks interesting too.
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