David Sedaris is a consistently funny, effeminate humorist, but something strayed too far from normalcy in "Holidays On Ice" for my taste....more
David Sedaris is a consistently funny, effeminate humorist, but something strayed too far from normalcy in "Holidays On Ice" for my taste. There is a first story involving his fictional tenure as a mall elf, but this is quickly followed with a morbid first-person recounting by a mother of her family's trials at the hands of a 22-year old bastard (and Vietnamese) stepdaughter, who attempts to frame the narrator for the murder of their infant child by putting it through a cycle in the washing machine. Though I suppose babies and death can be funny (although holy hell this alienates a large readership, we must think), it never really recovers. C+.(less)
Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming. Tom Bissell figuratively (and literally) knows this is t...more Vice City
Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming. Tom Bissell figuratively (and literally) knows this is true. He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely. Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose (he is a creative writing major and literary critic, after all). It's the reader of exceeding eclecticism that can digest all of his allusions to Epic Games, Nabokov, John le Carre, Braid , Cutting Crew, and David Foster Wallace (a mere iceberg tip). Every chapter is filled with fascinating interviews with adults who aren't just cynical suits piloting moneygrabbing corporations, but instead a smattering of brilliant and groundbreaking individuals who want to take gaming to an experiential height that we can't yet imagine, finances be damned. Along these chapters, Bissell recounts the games that morphed him into something other than himself, a feeling to which we might relate. Perhaps we snap at our girlfriends' temerity of a goodbye kiss during Demon's Souls (i.e. "What are you thinking!?"). Mayhaps we ignore our supposedly highbrow pursuits. Or simply lament the inordinate amount of time we have spent gaming. Bissell readily admits to 200+hrs playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion , something to which I can entirely relate (120+ playing Dragon Age: Origins and ~150 hrs (so far) with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ). Are we doing anything worthwhile with these hours?
Slate.com's Michael Thomsen tried to tackle this question in a recent article entitled "Dark Night (After Night After Night) of the Soul:Is a 100-hour video game ever worthwhile?". I would submit that Thomsen only partially gets the point in his critique of the 100+hour game. The gaming journeys he criticizes in the epics of modern RPGs aren't important to gamers because of what has actually been accomplished (breaking boxes, amassing virtual currency, having polygonal polyamory, or drubbing enemies with increasingly cool magic). It's actually immaterial if the activity is repetitive, irrelevant, or goofy, and boy are some of them goofy. Gaming matters to me, at least today, because it gives me a buzz. Demon's Souls gives me literal goosebumps and can cause a literal rage. The SNES's Final Fantasy III made me weep. Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City made the capable author Tom Bissell disappear into another world, and be thankful for the opportunity. If video games don't do anything for you, you most certainly should not be playing. But as long as they do, you should never stop.(less)