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Joystick Nation: How Videogames Ate Our Quarters, Won Our Hearts, and Rewired Our Minds Hardcover – June 1, 1997
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Top Customer Reviews
In addition to reading about the cultural and social effects of video game saturation, I also was looking forward to hearing some crazy stories and learning more about the people who made all the classics (Defender, Myst, etc.) Unfortunately, "Joystick Nation" book just doesn't go into enough detail to be interesting. Herz is prone to glibly tossing off dubious assertions about our generational consciousness, cultural mores, etc. etc., without arguing for these assertions in a coherent or convincing manner. She makes all sorts of claims about how video games have changed us, but rarely backs them up with any detail. After reading the book (it goes by fast but not because it's so fascinating; rather, it's just so flimsy that you can't help finishing it quickly), I felt like I'd just read the first draft of a sort-of-well-written but lazy college paper. The breezy, conversational style would be ok if Herz had deep or funny things to say, but she doesn't. It's frustrating because Herz superficially acts like she thinks video games are important and interesting enough to really explore in depth, yet her writing and analysis are so flimsy that you're left thinking that the subject isn't truly worthy of consideration. Herz's breathless yammering about her brother's use of the word 'kablooie' is typical of the book's style-- it's kind of cute but I just didn't relate or care.Read more ›
That said, this was still a good book, but it could have been more concise and consistent.
I don't feel so jilted because I got it at my local library, but I can't recommend it at retail prices.
JC Herz isn't attempting a history of videogames or a business story. Instead, she's writing a social commentary about the arcade and home videogame era thus far. But she's not convincing as a PLAYER. It's hard to imagine her being in the trenches with that very narrow demographic of players from 1977-85. It's a very unique group and she doesn't have a feel for it.
Also, and maybe it's because she's relatively young, her voice isn't that of the minimalistic arcade generation -- she's wordy and haughty at times. She's trying to wax poetic and get an A+ it seems.
If you're looking for an arcade history, stay away. She really doesn't know her stuff. Did she do any research? Not that she's factually incorrect about when, say, the Odyssey 2 came out, but she doesn't have a feel at all for what the scene was and the competition between the machines and their players. No perspective.
She gives 10 times more space to Doom than Pac-Man. That's like writing a book about the presidents and devoting only a paragraph to Lincoln and a whole chapter to Kennedy. Both deserve at least equal space because both have a lot of historical value.
Some of JC's interviews go nowhere. Most early game developers keep the party line: "Gee, I never thought videogames would get so big, but the old games are better." Though an interview with the owner of TimeOut on the future of arcades is interesting.
A chapter comparing videogame magazines to Playboy also was a waste of my time.
The book is very readable though and easy to finish. There are some laughs. But it won't really change your mind unless you go into this book without any videogame experience...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a rich-kids/rich-parents book, in the sense that those who buy it probably will not think for an instant of the fact that 90% of the world will never, ever, play a video... Read morePublished on July 31, 2004 by Robert David STEELE Vivas
While not as engaging as the competition, this book offers enough to be read. Some of the stories are the same that you see in many other books, but this book does give you a... Read morePublished on September 1, 2003 by Randy Given
J.C. Herz may be able to articulate herself well, but the subject matter warrants more than what she offers. Read morePublished on May 9, 2003 by Erik
This is a great read for gamer developers in between reading other books about vector math, pixel shading, and what not. Read morePublished on November 8, 2002
...absolute fluff. While Herz is trying to put a spin on the history of gaming, she just about ignores the actualy history behind much of it, instead depending on personal... Read morePublished on December 31, 2001
...but it just irritated you to no end. I must say that Herz's prose is quite unique-- more colorful than Kent's 'The First Quarter' but not anywhere near researched. Read morePublished on February 8, 2001
If this is hi-tech, then call me a Luddite.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly people jettison their critical faculties when talking about hi-tech. Read more