THINGS WE THINK ABOUT GAMING by Will Hindmarch and Jeff Tidball

There are many facets to the world of gaming -- tactics, players, history, design, business -- and authors Will Hindmarch and Jeff Tidball act as agents provocateur in short form about almost all of them in their book Things We Think About Games. This collection of thoughts sometimes explains, often provokes, and will generate a lot of controversy.

The main body of Things We Thing About Games consists of 101 entries about the world of gaming by the authors. These entries range from several paragraphs to a single sentence; the main point, at the start or end of the entry, is always in bold type. Some of the entries are practical (how to determine if a die roll is cocked or flat), some are philosophical (the difference between strategy and tactics), some are aimed at players and some at game designers.

Many of the entries are opinionated, and often they will inspire debate, offense (the word "fuckwit" appears in four entries -- once in Latin), and possibly controversy. This is by design: as Tidball says in his introduction, "The hope is that short, provocative nuggets will spark your thinking and force you to make up your own damn mind." And this format works. While it's impossible to read Things We Think About Games from start to finish and agree with everything, this book does force the reader to examine what they agree with -- and why.

There's a lot more in Things We Think About Games than the authors' opinions. This book also has: introductions from Robin Laws (author of Hamlet's Hit Points) and celebrity geek Wil Wheaton; 26 more short entries from various gaming professionals; John August's "7 Lessons Learned from World of Warcraft"; and S. John Ross' essay "Cliche, Combat, Fellowship, Anarchy and Enigma." These additional writings are nice bookends to the entries from Hindmarch and Tidball.

Things We Think About Games generates the best sort of disagreement: the kind that gets you thinking and talking. The entries are sometimes too brief for their own good, as they can lack detail (the plus side is that this is a quick read: I read it twice on the day I got it) but they combine experience, attitude, and humor. The results of Things We Think About Games will be each reader's analysis of playing and/or designing games, player analysis and (hopefully) self-analysis, and a lot more thinking about the world of gaming.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

1 comment:

Jeff Tidball said...

Glad you liked Things We Think About Games! It's great to read a review from someone who really appreciates our approach to the material.

Thanks again!