This article was originally published for the now-defunct Site of the Gaming Dead, a video game blog, on May 31, 2010. I have done my best to recreate the original article here, complete with images (when possible).
Every now and again, you have to peel your eyes away from your computer’s monitor or your TV screen after hours of indulging your thumbs in button-pressing, joystick-wiggling madness. It’s sad but true. But who says that you can’t burn your retinas on something equally entertaining, such as Jim Rossignol’s thoughtful and well-crafted journey through three very different cities and the gamers therein?
This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities is all at once thought-provoking, entertaining, and refreshing.
A trip to the biggest library in San Francisco one day resulted in me spending a good couple of hours perusing the shelves for books on games: video games, computer games, game music, game psychology. There’s a lot out there to be read, and I truthfully had to limit myself when picking out tomes: I cut myself off after six books weighing roughly fifteen pounds altogether. Luckily, Rossignol’s 213-page chronicle is a lightweight, witty read that I didn’t mind schlepping around in places where I knew I’d be playing the Waiting Game, a title I’m sure we’re all familiar with.
Rossignol’s mixture of jargon-free examinations and familiar Gamerspeak will make this a fun read for gamers and non-gamers alike, but those of us who do spend at least a few hours nursing disjointed thumbs will probably get a bit more out of it, perhaps even inspiring a bit of envy; Rossignol’s story is that of his PC game-related travels from his hometown of London, England to Seoul, South Korea for a StarCraft competition and then to Reykjavik, Iceland for an EVE Online festival. Not many people get to leave their dead-end, uninspiring job for one that lets you travel around the world for the sake of video games, but Rossignol did, and you can vicariously do the same by reading This Gaming Life.
“In May 2000, I was fired from my job as a reporter on a finance newsletter because of an obsession with a video game. It was the best thing that ever happened to me” opens Rossignol’s chronicles: just how does a guy end up traveling around the world, learning all about gamer culture and the future of gaming? For him, it began with getting fired.
While trying to find a job that could truly make him happy and involved with his “obsession,” Rossignol enlightens readers with gaming lore and tantalizing possibilities about the future of gaming: games are now allowing kids to make more real-world connections with complex subjects (think elementary school kids learning to read, handle money, and be socially aware) and improving the accuracy of surgeons in the OR.
Games have found themselves at the center of some very interesting, if unexpected and strange conversations, and Rossignol brings you into them only to draw you out before he spirals off on a related subject; the result is that you’re tempted to learn more, perhaps by going on a real-world adventure all your own. The side effect, of course, is that he begins many conversations that he doesn’t finish, leaving a lot of material uncovered. But perhaps that’s half the fun, since gaming, whether on the PC or elsewhere, is constantly evolving, whether on the personal level or a universal one.
Throughout the book, Rossignol interviews people from all across the gaming sphere: developers and creators, end-user gamers like himself, champion professional gamers, and everyone in-between. He spoke to a guy that opened for Guns ‘N’ Roses using a plastic guitar and Guitar Hero; he interviewed a surprising hardcore Lineage II gamer, and he pondered over the future of EVE Online and similar expanding-universe games with its senior producer. The differences between each person help show just how well-rounded the world of gaming truly is: there are people of all ages, cultural backgrounds, levels of expertise in a variety of fields, and attitudes.
While at times This Gaming Life seems to wander off on a tangent, Rossignol always smartly brings the reader back to his adventures, leaving one with the feeling of “Oh! I just learned something new without trying!” He also manages to sneak a few laughs throughout the journey, making for an all-around, on-again, off-again read. If you ever find yourself needing a break from the brightly-lit screens and sore thumbs, Rossignol’s travels are sure to fill that void.
Indigo Ink is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This article includes an affiliate link for a book related to the article’s subject matter and was included in the original published article.