Gamer Nation: The Rise of Modern Gaming and the Compulsion to Play Again

Gamer Nation: The Rise of Modern Gaming and the Compulsion to Play Again

by Eric Geissinger


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A tech-industry insider takes a critical look at the effect games are having on our short- and long-term happiness and assesses the cultural prospects of a society increasingly obsessed with gaming.

The American "game economy" has become an enormous enterprise, devouring roughly one-ninth of America's entire economic output. This overview of arguably the most influential segment of the entertainment industry examines the perspectives of gaming enthusiasts, addicts, designers, arcade owners, psychologists, philosophers, and more. Weighing the positive and negative aspects of games, the author considers their effect not only upon the players but upon culture and society. What trade-offs are being made when people play games for twenty-plus hours a week?

The author puts particular emphasis on Candy Crush, whose enormous popularity has left all other games far behind. Since 2013 it has been installed over a billion times and its simplicity has disrupted previous game-design assumptions, proving new games don't have to be sophisticated and graphically immersive.

He also offers insights from interviews with experts on the mechanics of manipulation. Sophisticated psychological tools are used to design games that are compelling, irresistible, and possibly addicting. In a few case, obsessive game-playing has been the cause of death.

Whether you enjoy games as a harmless pastime or are suspicious of their effects on the quality of your family's life, you'll want to read this wide-ranching exploration of the growing game phenomenon.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633883796
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication date: 07/31/2018
Pages: 277
Sales rank: 1,226,376
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Eric Geissinger is the author of Virtual Billions: The Genius, the Drug Lord, and the Ivy League Twins behind the Rise of Bitcoin. He has worked as a technical writer for Silicon Valley software companies for seventeen years. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in several literary journals. He lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York with his wife and two daughters.

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter Nine - Flooding the Colosseum

Excerpted from "Gamer Nation"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Eric Geissinger.
Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 11

What's "Play" and What's a "Game"? 12

Childish Play and Mature Games 18

The Unexpected Power of Games 20

Chapter 1 Birds Do It, Bees Don't Do It, but Some Pig-Faced Turtles Do It 23

Birds at Play, or at Least Playing a Game 30

The Sad Tale of Pigface, and Happier Turtles 33

The Irresistible Appeal of Space [to] Geckos 36

More, More, and More 37

Giggling and Wrestling Rats 39

Chapter 2 All Work and No Unstructured Play Makes Jane Whiny 41

The Helicopter Parent Hypothesis 45

The Results of Unstructured Play, and the Inevitable Expansion of Perceived Harm 52

Something Is Up 57

Play Is Fundamental 66

Chapter 3 Massive Size Is Massive 67

YouTube Incentivizing Blandness 73

"Minecraft Is Love. Minecraft Is Life." 80

Chapter 4 Anatomy of a Bestseller 87

How (Some) Things Are Done 91

Nothing's Good and (Pretty Much) Everything's Bad with Steven Johnson's Everything Bad Is Good for You 93

What Does the Book Actually Claim? 95

A Bestseller at Any Cost 99

Chapter 5 Candy Crush(ing) the Competition, and Harpooning Whales 103

Hate-Playing Candy Crush 103

Candy Crush Origins 106

The Good Old Days 108

How Las Vegas Sees the World 109

Learning from the Casinos 112

Slot Machines and Tetris 117

The (De)Evolution of Games 124

Old School Capitalism 125

Extracting Profit: When a Game Plays You 127

The Mechanics of Video-Game Manipulation 132

Others Jump on the Manipulation Bandwagon 136

Chapter 6 Professional Leagues and the Rise of Esports- Are They Still Games? 143

The Rise of EnVyUs 150

What to Make of Overwatch as a Spectator Sport? 161

Chapter 7 The Dangers of the Virtual 167

More and More Games 167

Nabokov's The Luzhin Defense 170

Taking Games Far Too Seriously 174

What's "Real Life" and What's "Virtual"? 179

Let's "Gamify" the World! Everyone Wins! 186

Games to Improve the World 195

Chapter 8 Keep Us Safe by Giving Them Games 203

The Comic-Book Code Comes to Video Games 203

Games Inspiring the Good Life 208

The Benefits of Sports 210

The Town That Killed Football 218

Chapter 9 Flooding the Colosseum 225

Having Too Much Fun to Work 226

Games Are Different 229

A Warning 231

Addiction and Distraction: It's Not Just Games 234

What Can Be Done? We Know but Don't Want to Know 237

What's to Come? 239

Acknowledgments 241

Notes 243

Index 269

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