Top critical review
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Short on tech, high on drama
on 23 March 2014
Firstly, the book is very well written, and the author's research is very thorough and impressive. The accounts of some interactions are so detailed that I was suspicious of their accuracy, but the references are cited well, and it seems the author lived through all this so there is no reason to doubt him.
However, the reason I'm giving this 3 stars is the amount of histrionics and drama that is endlessly hashed out. All of the social squabbling that went on within all the companies is given too much air time. I guess it's important to give an account of what actually took place, but it became tiresome after a while, it was like reading some kind of computer-nerd soap opera.
I wanted to hear more about the game design process, more on how the games were made and why they were so groundbreaking. These details are discussed, though sometimes in fairly vague terms. The author is good at describing some processes in quite broad analogies, though doesn't delve into the nitty gritty. This may have been my mistake in interpreting the target audience, but I think most of the readers could have handled a more in-depth analysis.
Other parts of the book were very entertaining, and there are great account of the history of computer games from the very start, its emergence as a huge industry, and discussions about morality in video games and competitive gaming. You also do end up with a good understanding of the two Johns' personalities. A very enjoyable read, but like I said, too many accounts of petty arguments.