The State of Play can be a bit of an odd, meandering book at first glance. Compiling sixteen different essays covering a range of topics from a variety of writers and developers, it wanders in many different directions. From delving into the relationships and traditions we build into games, why so many games use violence as a mechanic, or how Twine has opened development to an entirely new set of developers, it explores many topics in brief. It can feel a little bit all over the place in its mission to show that games are more than just toys we use to blow off steam, bouncing from topic to topic. What it does, and does exceptionally well, though, is show that video games mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It shows that there is so much depth to the hobby that many of us love, and it is astounding to see so many people see so many different things when they pick up their controllers.
Games mean different things to many of us - things born of our place in the world. For someone of the Arab world, what does it feel like to shoot at stereotypical depictions of your people while playing Call of Duty" What's it like to see the Cold War fears you grew up with turned into the background fiction of a game" To tell your own unique story that you thought no one else would understand, only to meet others who share in your pain " To wonder what your online teammates would think of you if they found out who you really were" How do the games you play make you feel, and what is it about you as an individual that makes you feel that way" It's interesting to see so many different vantage points looking at so many different games, all finding meaning based on that intersection between our games and the culture, beliefs, and lifestyles we bring to them.
The State of Play also speaks to those curious about the development of games. An extensive chapter on Dust (The Counter Strike Map) delves into the thoughts and planning...