Extra Lives

Extra Lives

Why Video Games Matter

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A personal assessment of the author's addiction to video games explores his favorites, their roles as modern forms of popular art, and their habit-forming appeal while considering how he has neglected his professional and social responsibilities in favorof gaming activities.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2010.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780307378705
Characteristics: xiv, 218 p. ; 22 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jul 25, 2013

This book is a wonderful collection of the video games that I grew up playing. It has a wonderful banter about his relationship to playing video games and how they made him feel.

It was nice to remember when I was playing the same video games with my sister and reminisce about the times we had together.

Jan 13, 2013

This book served to not only crystallize my appreciation for video games as an art form but it also aided me in seeing ALL art forms through a different lense.

This book is wonderful for anyone trying to understand the draw of video-games, gamers looking for a nostalgic discussion on the subject, or anyone interested in reading passionate journalism.


Dec 11, 2011

Is it on the shelves?


Add a Quote
Jul 25, 2013

“And so, my beloved Kermit, my dear little Hussein, at the moment America changed forever, your father was wandering an ICBM-denuded wasteland, nervously monitoring his radiation level, armed only with a baseball bat, a 10mm pistol, and six rounds of ammunition, in search of a vicious gang of mohawked marauders who were 100 percent bad news and totally had to be dealt with. Trust Daddy on this one.”

Jul 25, 2013

“More than any other form of entertainment, video games tend to divide rooms into Us and Them. We are, in effect, admitting that we like to spend our time shooting monsters, and They are, not unreasonably, failing to find the value in that.”

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Jul 25, 2013

jkrambeck thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Summary
Jul 25, 2013

Tom Bissell is a prizewinning writer who published three widely acclaimed books before the age of thirty-four. He is also an obsessive gamer who has spent untold hours in front of his various video game consoles, playing titles such as Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead, BioShock, and Oblivion for, literally, days. If you are reading this flap copy, the same thing can probably be said of you, or of someone you know.

Until recently, Bissell was somewhat reluctant to admit to his passion for games. In this, he is not alone. Millions of adults spend hours every week playing video games, and the industry itself now reliably outearns Hollywood. But the wider culture seems to regard video games as, at best, well designed if mindless entertainment.

Extra Lives is an impassioned defense of this assailed and misunderstood art form. Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming—but he also believes games could be even better. He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate. Along the way, we get firsthand portraits of some of the best minds (Jonathan Blow, Clint Hocking, Cliff Bleszinski, Peter Molyneux) at work in video game design today, as well as a shattering and deeply moving final chapter that describes, in searing detail, Bissell’s descent into the world of Grand Theft Auto IV, a game whose themes mirror his own increasingly self-destructive compulsions.

Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is like no other book on the subject ever published. Whether you love video games, loathe video games, or are merely curious about why they are becoming the dominant popular art form of our time, Extra Lives is required reading.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at WPL

To Top