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Embed with Games: A Year on the Couch with Game Developers

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  31 reviews
In 2014 games critic Cara Ellison pledged to the internet she'd leave home, become itinerant, and travel around the world to live with and write about some of the most interesting game developers and their cultural outlook.

As your 'cyberpunk hair-dyed Attenborough', originally Cara put up the Embed With Games series monthly on a free blog as she travelled from couch to cou
ebook, 200 pages
Published June 2015 by Birlinn and Polygon
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Nov 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have many other things to do right now. My laundry basket is piled higher than it's ever been, I have job applications that have been sitting open in a graveyard of browser tabs for days. I'd rather be finishing Undertale than write this.

But Cara Ellison ends her year-long Embed With Games project with the simple moral of "Never shut up", and I just know that if I do any one of those things, I will shut up, at best squeaking out some vague words of praise on Twitter and being done with it. So
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-covers
Having let this book lie for a while shortly after buying it, I did all but fly through it once I started. Embed with Games isn't incredibly focused. It's not just someone flying hi and fro to ask the same olod questions in a couple of interviews. This game is personal. It takes you on a personal journey with someone and makes you feel the tiredness and slightly manic energy and morning-after comedown of it all, as Cara becomes what often feels like a gypsy among gypsies. The people she talks to ...more
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: games
I'm so incredibly glad this book exists, even though I read some of these pieces as they hit the interwebs (and this was part of my gripe with The State of Play: Creators and Critics on Video Game Culture--that the parts had existed online prior to being collected in a book). Ellison's writing is profoundly observant and funny. The participants (hosts?) are fascinating. The pictures are exactly the right kind of bad tiny digital image to go along with this scrapbook-blog-pet-project turned book. ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I found very nice the idea of making a book out of a travel experience in which the journalist meets people who work in game industry. I'm only sorry that she wasn't able to find an actual good mixture of professionalism and intimacy, telling too less on herself and the people who met.
Nick Cummings
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading an awful lot about games in 2019, but I haven't been passing much of what I've learned along. I figure it's time to pay some of that forward. Let's start with Cara Ellison's gonzo chronicle of a year spent couch-surfing with independent game developers of all stripes: Embed with Games.


Once upon a time, a young man of many talents was possessed with a singular drive: to become a games journalist. He was naïve, sure, but equipped with the sort of unearned optimism that c
Paula G.
sin nota y sin review hasta que se lo lea Victor
Nick Carraway LLC
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
1) "There are two sleeping monsters to kill before I leave the craggy beaten shores of Great Britain: one I love, and one I hate. The nearest convenient colossus is an hour away by train, looming in the darkness like a knobbled old fuckwit, grinding up all the talented people like Sarlacc. London."

2) "I am on the balcony with Increpare, whose game Slave of God is one of the most profound games I've ever played. The air is on frost edge. London is too bright to show us stars in the sky, but the b
Thomas Hale
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Scottish games journalist and writer takes a trip around the world, stopping in locations from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and spending time with various (mostly independent) game developers. Written over the span of 2014, it provides a vivid snapshot of the cutting edge of videogame creation, while also being a very personal work (like much of Ellison's writing). She captures quiet, intimate moments and busy parties with equal dexterity, is candid in talking about the parts of games culture and ...more
Matthew Bryan
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book of journeys by Cara Ellison documenting her travels in 2014 highlighting independent developers from the UK to Singapore, Japan, Australia and Europe.

The writing was coherent but a little too inside, the included pictures incredibly amateurish, smartphone shots.

She definitely has the chops and reading about the cloistered communities pushing past gamings expectations is captivating.

Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Probably the most essential book there is about making games (but not just about making games, really). I'm so glad it exists, for Cara Ellison's way with words and ability to weave seemingly fragmentary ideas and feelings together, for the underlying optimism it imbues.
May 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Very difficult to read, especially the first chapters. Not enough info about games and the indie devs, although it's in the title, and it's why I bought the book in the first place.
It gets better later in the book but I guess the Gonzo style is just not for me.
Chris Boardman
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Awesome gonzo journalism, and really interesting stuff to learn about game design cross-country!
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Page turner. Deeply personal account of “the” (or “a”, or “some”) indie game scene and a trip to find it
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit dull if I'm honest. I had to renew this book from the library 5 times in order to finish it. Still, it made me download and play Downwell, so not all bad.
Eric Farr
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like Embed with Games, and yet I felt as though I was reading a lesser version. A collection of globe-trotting essays, this deeply personal journalistic collection frequently reminds the reader that it represents writings originally published online, with underlined passages indicating where a hyperlink once existed. But I had not read these essays before, and taking them in any format, even a lesser one, is still worthwhile. Each essay feels raw and in the moment, and while this published pri ...more
Oct 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I was disappointed when I received the book to find that the pictures were not in colour (the reason for getting a hard copy over just the kindle version), then by the fact that, other than George (who I met at GDC last year), I had never even heard of any other developers interviewed in the book. I was also disappointed when I found out that the book was actually just the collection of blog posts freely available online (with colour photos).

But then something changed.

I realized that,
Georgi Kalaydzhiev
Jan 18, 2017 rated it liked it
И киното и гейм индустрията имат своите велики имена, но ако попаднеш в някой град на края на света и попиташ случаен минувач кой е Спилбърг и кой е Кармак със сигурност за първия ще каже нещо, а втория ще го помисли за марка самобръсначки.
Авторката на книгата се опитва да спре тази неправда и поема нелеката задача да обиколи цял свят и да ни представи най-зачуканите гейм дивелъпъри.
Повечето от хората, за които пише са работили по ААА заглавия, но са решили, че животът им е твърде спокоен в голе
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Being a fan of Cara's writing, and having followed the Embed With project as it happened, it was a bit of a no brainer for me to buy this book. Cara's anecdotes as she roams the world, meeting important, often-unheard voices in the world of gaming is delightful and eye opening. We definitely no longer live in a world where AAA, multi-million dollar games rule the world. Indie games, released through various means, have carved out quite a bit more than a niche in people's psyches. Just look at ga ...more
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A varied and fascinating travelogue that profiles mostly indie game developers (and a few AAA) from around the world. Their perspectives, in addition to Cara's own voice, give credence to video games as not just a hobby, or art, or a form of entertainment, but a way to enrich and find meaning in one's life. This collection of travel essays is the most intimate and incisive writing I've read about gaming and revealing about what drives people to develop video games.

I love Cara Ellison's thoughts
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is almost as much about the stress of travelling and being in a low-budget indie job as it is about games, but I liked how the author's personality and quirks shone through everything she was relating. This was a tour of people doing interesting things with games; there were a lot of names here I didn't recognize since I'm not very knowledgeable about the indie games scene. I liked the explanations different people gave for why they make games and what they are trying to do when they d ...more
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It feels a bit weird reading this in book form. Links are still underlined but no longer lead anywhere. At times it makes the writing feel splattered with name-dropping without much purpose. The stories feel removed from their online natural habitat.

But it's still great. The Nina Freeman section is a particular favourite of mine. And yes, I want more people to have heard of Katharine Neil (especially in Australia). While naturally there are limits on what one person could do in a year, it's bot
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I annotated the shit out of Embed with Games, occasional Paste contributor Cara Ellison’s recently-released compendium of her travels living with game developers. I underlined quotes I found insightful and scrawled responses in the margins. I destroyed this book because I wanted to find the running thread that connected each of the interviews, or to connect with one of them on some deeper level as a struggling creative.

Read the rest of my review over at Paste Magazine.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This collection of essays are a very human and real look at the people who make video games all around the world.

As someone who makes games, this felt personal as though I could completely relate to the subjects of Cara's writing.

Highly recommended for anyone with even the smallest interested in the backstories of creators of games and any digital art medium.
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intimate travelogue of Ellison's visits with various indie gaming creators. Covers everything from why people make games, to the importance of conversation and connection between souls. I very much enjoyed the insights, discoveries, and thoughtful ponderings.
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A travelogue intertwined with coalface documentation of an emerging independent games culture. Excellently written, personal and political, and not once a book written only for specialists. All shoestring creators should grab a copy, and see what people are up to.
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book is one part travelogue and two parts snapshot in time of indie development across the globe. Really fun read.
Tom Shen
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cara Ellison is one of the best video game critics/journalists/writers out there, and this travelogue really shows it off.
Kirsty Fraser
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
An inspirational look into the games that are being made around the world. For anyone whose interested in game development - pick this up!!
Kyle Hebert
Yeah, this book is theoretically about games and the people who make them, but, like the best writing, it is really Ellison's journey that makes this book magical and immensely readable.
Cat Tobin
Dec 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Cara Ellison is one of the freshest, rawest writers around, and I really enjoyed this journey around the homes and lives of some of the games industry's most interesting characters.
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Cara Ellison is a Scottish writer, game critic and video game narrative designer. She has written for The Guardian, VICE, Kotaku, PC Gamer, Paste Magazine and the New Statesman, wrote the best-named column in the world, S.EXE, at Rock Paper Shotgun, and had a regular opinion column at Eurogamer. She was also co-writer on Charlie Brooker’s How Videogames Changed The World for Channel Four televisio ...more

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