Video games have got a pretty bad reputation really. Blamed for violence, anti-social behaviour and a lot of societies other ills they don't get good press coverage. This book is one man's attempt to explain why video games matter. Its done by using several games he has played (all console games such as Far Cry 2, Fallout 3, GTAIV and others) to explain this and also interviewing some of the designers of those games.
There are some parts of this book that work very well. The description of the beginning of Resident Evil was very funny and reminded me of my first play of that game. The parts on GTA rampages also made me laugh, I am never that inventive. You can obviously tell that the author has a love/hate relationship with many of these games. The appendices are great and the interview with Sir Peter Molyneux (designer of Fable) is very good indeed. What doesn't work so well is when it veers into an almost university textbook density of technical narrative discussion particularly when it discusses ludo narrative dissonance repeatedly. This term refers to when the cut scenes run counter to the players controllable actions. Or rather than the player is killing without a whim and yet the cut scenes portray that character as an angel (as an example). This is an important point but the book gets too bogged down with it. I also didn't enjoy the final GTAIV section where the authors own addiction to cocaine is also included and compared to a video game. For an author who is trying to explain why video games matter this is neither helpful or wise in my opinion.
Its a good book. But suffers from ludo narrative dissonance in itself. Its author claims to love games. But too often it reads that he likes games but gets frustrated with them even more. Thereby defeating the object. I did enjoy it. The section on Fallout 3 has made me start that game again. I recommend the book for gamers. But I don't love it and find it as frustrating as the author finds many of the games he discusses because of the reasons above.