April 16th, 2009

Now that GDC has come and gone, I’ve gotten over my post-GDC flu, I’m back from a recharge weekend in Tahoe, and the ASJA conference in New York is a full week+ away, I’ve finally gotten a chance to catch up on some of my reading. First on my bedside pile was Dennis Cooper’s God Jr., recommended by coffee buddy, literary debate partner, and ex-IGNer Mike Thomsen.

I had never read anything by Cooper before, and first and foremost I was struck by his frank, approachable writing style. I’ve found, the more time I spend in the real world as a busy adult, the less time I’m willing to spend on untangling texts. Of course, that might well change over my next six years as a comp. lit. Ph.D. student. Since finishing God. Jr., I also picked up Frisk, which uses a less straightforward prose — a more contrived, indirect form of storytelling. I didn’t care for it, but I hear I should really be aiming for The Sluts.

What’s really of interest to gamers in God Jr. is the way that Cooper’s protagonist Jim approaches the experience of play. As a father grieving for his lost teenage son, he dives into an unidentified action adventure game, which we the readers see through his unfamiliar eyes. Inside the game, he feels like a god — capable of doing anything, not yet jaded by the cliches of video game logic. On the one hand, this strikes gamers like us as naive, but it also reminded me of my own first experience with Mario 64, back with gaming still seemed magical to me as well. All too often we lose the wonder of gaming in the routine. It takes someone new to show us that again.

Tags: books

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