Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Coin-Operated Americans. Rebooting Boyhood at the Video Game Arcade.

I felt like a magnetic attraction to this book from the moment I saw its cover and read its title. When I was a kid, I can't count the hours (or quarters) I spent at the arcade. Eventually the arcade closed, and most kids got their gaming "fix" from home consoles. Now this book goes beyond the story of the arcade; Carly Kocurek analyses the arcade, and video games as a form of entertainment, from the perspective of what audience it is targeting. In this case boys and young male adults. 

The demographics are clear, and considering I grew up as one of these boys, in a certain way it helped open my eyes to the perception of the gaming industry from the female side. Kocurek provides examples of early promotions from the pioneer video game companies that set the stage for these games to be viewed as a sport, a manly thing to do, almost to the point of being worthy of admiration if successful. Beyond that, the author even takes a look at Hollywood and famous films like Tron and War Games (a movie that was a favorite growing up.)

Of course there is always the darker side of gaming. We see the moral battles against video game violence, the spending of money in the arcade, and the demonization of the arcade itself by its opponents. 

So basically, there's two sides of this book. There's the history part, and then there's the analysis of the author. I really enjoyed how Kocurek moved through the decades, the venues, and even the controversies. She was able to insert commentaries about the key players (no pun intended) in the video game history. However, is the other side of the story that falls short for me. Clearly the purpose of the book is to demonstrate that "boyhood" goes hand-in-hand with the arcade, as evidence by the subtitle of this work. But there were times that it seemed like the author was hammering the boy/man concept for pages, to the point were phrases became repetitive and this interrupted the flow of the read.

For the history side of the book I think this will be a book that will be enjoyed by anyone that has had video games as part of their lives.

Finished on: August 10, 2015
Days reading: 7
My rating: 3/5
** I received a free copy of this book as an ARC by the author/publisher in exchange of a honest review.

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