October 15, 2007

Second Person, Twice

by Noah Wardrip-Fruin · , 7:30 am

At GTxA we’ve already mentioned two reviews of Second Person (by Emily Short and Bijan Forutanpour) and recently two more have caught my eye, by two Davids: Dave Thomas and David Cox. One is from Games for Lunch, a quirky review site that plays a game for an hour, gives a stream-of-consciousness overview of that hour, and then asks the all-important question: “Do I want to keep playing?”

Dave Thomas (of Buzzcut and Game On) wrote a guest Games for Lunch review of Second Person — which, of course, altered the fundamental question. I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to reveal that he concludes:

Would I read this book for more than an hour? Yes.

Why? Look, I’m an academic game nerd. But reading this kind of stuff really brings the whole topic of videogames to life for me. It’s fun to think back through the games you’ve enjoyed and start to see why they work (or at times don’t). This book looks like it is filled with smart ideas from people that love, and play games.

A more traditionally-structured Second Person review comes from David Cox, writing at newmediaFIX. While Thomas is often identified as a journalist, Cox is primarily a practitioner. But I’m glad to say that he also seems to think Second Person is worth more than an hour. He lays his cards on the table from the outset of the review, as one sees in this excerpt from the first paragraph:

It is an amazing collection of ideas, scintillating, diverse and rich; each separate writer’s account sheds light on what it is that makes a memorable interactive title compelling and immersive. The contributors provide well illustrated, written insights into exactly how games and ‘playable media’ are conceptualized. Individual case studies describe role-playing related works from academia, the publishing world, the fine arts and the normally hyper-secret inner sanctum of the games industry.

Pat Harrigan and I are right now working with Joe Tabbi, Jan Van Looy, and others at electronic book review to revitalize our work with them, which kicked off with First Person. More on that front soon.

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