Death by Video Game: Danger, Pleasure and Obsession on the Virtual Frontline

Death by Video Game is the first book by Simon Parkin, a British journalist with a special interest in video games. It combines new essays with previously published writings to offer a broad view of the current state of gaming and the place of video games in modern culture.

These games offer consistent and just worlds that reward hard work with success and a sense of belonging, attractions that can be strongest for those with the least rewarding lives, he writes. Many provide "all of the psychological benefits of sport--the excitement, the fervour, the racing pulse, the strategy--without the lactic acid chaser. Indeed... a video game can be played almost indefinitely without the need for rest or interruption.... For some people, devotion to improving at a video game begins to mimic the unbreakable grip of substance addiction." Parkin describes how video games mirror aspects of our world and allow players to act out fantasies and nightmares in a safe environment. They also offer opportunities to play with distant friends, find a peaceful refuge or build empathy by experiencing the perspective of another person--a border guard, a parent or an Iranian revolutionary.

Parkin looks at the generation gap in understanding video games as another new form of entertainment, and even art, and how they differ from previous forms of entertainment and art morally, legally and artistically. And he cites studies that challenge the idea that first-person shooter games cause violent behavior. "If you are feeling hateful in the real world, the game provides a space in which to act hatefully. Wherever you go, there you will be." --Sara Catterall

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