Gaming Lives | Social Sciences Reviews

David Polfeldt, of Massive Entertainment, offers insight on working in the video game industry. Sid Meier tells the story of creating the influential gaming series, Civilization.

The Dream ArchitectsPolfeldt, David. The Dream Architects: Adventures in the Video Game Industry. Grand Central. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781538702611. $27. BIOG
This detailed and witty autobiography chronicles the experiences of Polfeldt, who is the current managing director of Massive Entertainment, a video game studio that has produced some of the world's most influential video games, including Tom Clancy's The Division. The author is working with movie director James Cameron on a series of video games that will be released together with the upcoming sequels to Avatar. Polfeldt grew up and currently lives in Sweden. He relates how, as a child, he had an interest in art, particularly painting, and describes himself as one of the "geeks who liked to draw in class." Although he eventually obtained a master's degree in the subject, he realized he didn't want to spend his life selling his own art. In his telling, he soon discovered that his talent for drawing could be used in the creation of computer games, and with the help of his people skills and unusual business savvy, he rose to his current position. VERDICT Because of the current relative lack of stories by video gamers, this book will not only appeal to gaming enthusiasts, but will make an excellent addition to an academic library's business section. Recommended as well for large public libraries.—Steve Dixon, State Univ. of New York, Delhi

Sid Meiers MemoirMeier, Sid. Sid Meier's Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games. Norton. Sept. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781324005872. $27.95. BIOG
Meier is one of the most recognizable names in the computer gaming industry today. He is best known for his 1991 creation and production of Sid Meier's Civilization, a strategic game that has since become a major game franchise, selling millions of copies worldwide. This well-written memoir can not only serve as a detailed autobiography, but can also be viewed as a scholarly, thorough description of the modern gaming industry and its associated culture. Beginning with short reflections of the author's early life and college experiences, the chapters evolve into wonderfully detailed descriptions of his gaming philosophies and the creative processes that went into the development of each of his games up to the present time. He also depicts learning more about his family's Dutch and Swiss heritage; his childhood as a first-generation immigrant in Canada; and being technically Canadian but culturally American. Each chapter concludes with humorous, warm, and thoughtful reflections of learned life lessons. Most notable, however, is the constantly recurring theme that, to be meaningful to someone, a game must contain a "series of interesting decisions." VERDICT This overdue biography will thrill gaming fans, and belongs in all major public and academic library collections.—Steve Dixon, State Univ. of New York, Delhi

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