Read My Book!!

The book, my friends, is ready for public consumption! Well, at least, in one sense of the word. Finding the thing has its own lovable quirks. The first problem you’ll have is with typing my name into any kind of search feature. It has a high probability of taking you to, among other things, the charming e-harmony guy Neil Clark Warren. Maybe my next book should be about identifying the love of your life – in two games of Tetris Attack or less. Using the full title, Game Addiction: The Experience and the Effects seems to work the best. The other problem is that nobody seems to have prepared for the possibility people might buy my book. It appears to be sold out on Amazon here in its first week of release (it must be the 38 cent discount.) My sincere apologies on that score.

Here’s the part where I should up and sing the book’s praises, and in a week or three I may indeed post press release info to help out any interested journos (though those are going first to journos I’m already in contact with.)

That said, why should you trust me to sing my book’s praises? Of course I love it – it’s my damned book!

So instead, I wanted to point out some of the areas where I screwed up. With a project like this, hindsight always burns the retinas in one or two places.

The editing and proofing, in my view, was not one of these areas. I exclaimed this before, to the point where people around me got annoyed, but my editors at McFarland humbled me with their abilities. There are probably one or two little editorial blips with the book as it stands – but that happens.

I commit this first foul several times; it really cracked me up when I first realized the following example in proofing. In the intro I let the reader know I’ll be talking about “the woman I married,” in videogames. I never do. And my World of Warcraft pirate wedding is probably one of my better stories.

Promises, promises. This is the problem, in my estimation: there are too many places in the book where I promise to talk about something – and then get distracted by shiny objects.

To more of a substantial issue: Chapter 3, ‘Why they Play.’ In retrospect, too much of Ch. 3’s smoothing got cut, while too much back-end research was left unadorned. As a result, some of my more important points on psychological immersion go un-made, leaving one or two parts feeling disjointed. Brilliant colleagues pointed out this problem in very early drafts, making me feel all the sillier for not minding it consistently. On the flip side, I felt that in the Soul Kerfuffle narrative, Andy and Dave bailed me out, explaining a lot of these problems in ways that were far more clear and straightforward. And also, Chapter 3 did not include this hamster. Unforgivable.

What might surprise some, given how outspoken I’ve been in blog posts and interviews, is that you won’t find Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) in Game Addiction. While the early drafts started and ended with refutations of IAD, as this book grew to include subtle topics like brain plasticity, functioning, cultural reasons for play, psychological reasons for play and physical immersion, an eight-item checklist for addiction really didn’t seem to be worth mentioning. This is a problem that a lot of people have with DSM-style criteria – the issues that they explain are too complicated to be captured in an antiseptic little jar. In retrospect, that wouldn’t have been hard to say.

What makes this omission worse, the APA makes a final decision on whether to include gaming problems in the DSM within the next two years. If researchers come up with legitimate, clinically-verified criteria for pathology before then, and that's included in the new DSM, then there might actually be enough funding for researchers to make textured and productive headway. Catch-22, right? Oh, right, and a fully new DSM only comes out once every couple of decades.

Finally, the last issue is one that I started noticing when doing early planning for my media and ethics course at DigiPen. In the book I point out two major technological advancements (as opposed to the socially-embedded media, or how those technologies are adopted and adapted by people [to use Neil Postman’s distinction]) that games have – above and beyond other mass-market entertainment: the designed experience and the social connectivity. In my lectures, I decided to rank user-generated content on equal footing. Were I starting the book anew, I'd have included it from the beginning. The argument could be made that user-generated content is a product of the two other technologies, and that this is truly only an issue of how they’re used. Nonetheless, pointing it out would have made understanding virtual worlds easier for the unindoctrinated. And that's what this book was about - bringing together fields of inquiry that don't talk - then explaining things so that everyone can understand.

So, depending on how busy I get in the coming months, I might set aside time to supplement the book with updates on IAD, e-wedding and e-divorce, player motivations and the technologies of gaming – among many, many other things that I’m interested in talking about. I’m also keen to talk about the major next step for this line of inquiry.

Enough said – read my book!!

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