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Pilgrim in the Microworld

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  40 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
Hardcover, 242 pages
Published December 31st 1979 by Warner Books (NY)
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Chris Salzman
Mar 26, 2015 Chris Salzman rated it it was amazing
A deep analytic meditation on Sudnow's journey from never touching a videogame to mastering Breakout for the Atari. Every bit of the journey is told in excruciating detail as he takes time to reflect on everything (I mean everything) about the game. This might be the best writing on video games that's ever been produced.

There's so much I take for granted in games and getting a glimpse into it from the perspective of a pilgrim is fascinating.
Joe Henthorn
Jan 31, 2015 Joe Henthorn rated it it was amazing
'Something vital was being dispensed.'

I remember reading about this getting a really glowing recommendation a couple of years ago on Anna Anthropy's blog and desperately wanting to read it - but I couldn't find a cheap copy (it's a long, long time out of print), and inevitably forgot about it. But when I saw it pop up again on Brendan Keogh's blog the other month and realised it was being sold for a penny plus 2.99 shipping by one of those weird Amazon marketplace sellers, I snapped it up immedi
Stacey Mason
Jan 30, 2013 Stacey Mason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: game studies researchers, obsessive gamers, gamers who also happen to be musicians
Shelves: research
Jazz pianist David Sudnow didn't play video games until he went to retrieve his teenage son from an arcade in the early 80s, and he immediately dismissed them as a silly money-sink designed to keep teenagers occupied. When an Atari 2600 ruined a party of academics, however, he decided to give games another shot and try the Atari for himself. Thus began his decent into obsession.

Following in the style of Ways of the Hand, Sudnow's deeply detailed exploration of the phenomenology of playing jazz p
Jul 29, 2012 Mjhancock rated it liked it
Neil David Sr. (or David Sudnow, as my copy stubbornly claims) describes in great, great detail his experience playing Breakout when it first came out on a home console. It's an extremely in-depth tale of his obsession with the game, from his trip to talk to Atari designers in person to his personal demand that he create the exact perfect playing sequence. It's of a reasonable amount of interest to those interested in game history, or game scholarship, as it's one of the earliest (and again, mos ...more
Oct 11, 2007 Alex rated it it was amazing
fucking awesome

to qualify that:

it's amazingly OCD, it's a thinly veiled fictional account about a grown man getting addicted to 'missile command' and 'breakout' on atari 2600 in 1982.

he has screenshots of strategies, combined with social and cultural criticism; he says of his first sight of arcade:

"something vital is being dispensed."

not 'good' by any 'literary' account - but it's a must-read for any geek.
Erik van Mechelen
Oct 19, 2013 Erik van Mechelen rated it it was amazing
Stumbling upon an interest, seeking mastery, and finding a world within worlds are Sudnow's high order bids in his epoch spent with Atari's "Breakout." Useful for philosophical introspection, applications to learning a craft, and reflections on the motivations of mankind and the behavior of individuals in a machine world.
May 31, 2011 Nate rated it really liked it
I love reading about other people's insanity. This guy became obsessed with Breakout for Atari, played it 8+ hours a day, took *meticulous* notes, and play by play accounts of individual games, then wrote a book about it. I mean, the amount of lunacy it built up in this man is staggering.
Jun 17, 2007 Tony rated it liked it
Shelves: gamesindustry
Interesting tale of a man who explored the limits of consciousness and the video world... by playing Atari Breakout.
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