Significant Zero: Heroes, Villains, and the Fight for Art and Soul in Video Games

Atria. Sept. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781501129957. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501129971. GAMES
Video-game writer Williams earned his acclaimed reputation for games such as Bioshock, Borderlands 2, and Spec Ops: The Line. In this mostly memoir, part meditation on what video games can be, he begins and ends with the Fox, his boss at 2K Games and an important, benevolent figure in this tale. With energy and wit, the author recounts his stumbling first interview with the Fox, his upward climb from office grunt to trusted writer, and the various characters whom he encountered along the way. The physical and mental stressors of the job emerge organically in the telling, and without a trace of self-pity, even when it becomes clear that, for Williams, the work is like an addictive drug. His gift for profane turns of phrase and wacky metaphor combine hysterically throughout. There is a lack of self-awareness and a shortage of personal details, but that's the point. Williams merged with his role to an unhealthy degree, and shifting the focus would be dishonest.
VERDICT A dark, humorous look into video game publishing, essential for anyone interested in the gaming industry and an entertaining read.
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