SOCIAL SCIENCES

Death by Video Game: Danger, Pleasure, and Obsession on the Virtual Frontline

Melville House. Jun. 2016. 272p. index. ISBN 9781612195407. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612195414. SOC SCI
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OrangeReviewStarIn this groundbreaking analysis of video games, newcomer Parkin frames the contentious debates of the field fairly, logically, and from a variety of angles. He examines both the dangers and benefits of this addictive form of entertainment with evocative examples: from 23-year-old Chen Rong-Yu, who died at the keyboard while in an internet café, to Ryan Green who developed a game called "That Dragon, Cancer" to process his son's bout with terminal illness. Parkin demonstrates how, despite their lethal power, video games have a unique ability to help players achieve empathy and healing. The author synthesizes past wisdom, criticism, and analysis, and coaxes from that fertile soil a new set of provocative questions to make a compelling case that video games have only begun to realize their potential as an art form. While Parkin builds on Tom Bissell's Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter and Jane McGonigal's Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, his reportage leads to brilliant, fresh insights, which is all the more impressive for a debut book.
VERDICT Accomplishing that rare feat of teaching while entertaining, this work ignites a series of debates crucial to the future of video games.

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