Book review: Virtual Ascendance

Virtual AscendanceAre you a gamer?

Prior to reading “Virtual Ascendance” by Devin Griffiths, I will probably not classify myself as a gamer because I barely spend time blasting monsters in front of my computer or clutching video remote controls. But I was wrong. I am, without me realizing, a gamer too. This book attempts to tackle the stereotypes we attribute to video gaming such as it is a geeky activity.

“This is more than a story about video games, though. It’s the story of an awakening, of a realization that while I wasn’t looking, a childhood pastime popular with lonely hearts and geeks exploded into a thriving, multi-billion dollar enterprise – one rooted in entertainment but whose tendrils reach into virtually all aspects of society.”

In fact, it surprised me when it pointed out that in the U.S., 40-year-old females made up the average age of people playing social games like Sims Social and Bejeweled.

Furthermore, video gaming these days are no longer confined to the traditional set-top consoles. We are now taking it on the go and playing them on a wider variety of platforms on our smartphones, tablets and laptops. These advancements and evolution of the gaming industry, the author argues, is a direct reflection of the soul of our society.

“As human beings we are also gamers. The games we create and the games we play tell us something about our society and ourselves: what we desire, what we value, what we encourage, what we fear.”

As much this nonfiction opened up my horizon to the vastness of the video-gaming world, I found it difficult to get through the first half of the book which is hard for non-hardcore gamers like myself to connect with.

This is because the author, who is an avid gamer, took great effort to record in detail the functions, relationships and exchanges existing inside the world of multi-player online role playing games to the extent that casual gamers like myself felt left out from the party. And it definitely did not help that numerous gaming abbreviations such as UQS, WoW, EVE were used.

Thankfully in the second half, he ventured beyond game chat rooms and professional video gaming into the other aspects of our society that has been infiltrated by video gaming and its outreach is truly spectacular.

“To some degree, life itself is a game…. It can be beautiful, and it can be tragic. There are great triumphs and better defeats. there is pain, happiness, sorrow, and joy. At times, we struggle to continue, to find the inner strength to persevere, to carry on, to keep playing. And yet we choose to keep playing.

Because in this game, we are not alone.

Because in this game, we’re playing for more than ourselves. And because through this game, we declare to the universe that we are gloriously, wondrously alive, and that we, in our fleeting tenure, made a difference.”

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review. This post though reflects my true and honest opinions.

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