Bedside Manner: Taking It to the Couch

Book Learnin' for Gamers. What's Missing Here?

In which I tell the reader why I don’t read in the bedroom, why video games and books make strange bedfellows, and in what rooms I do and do not have sexual relations. In other words, a pretty standard books blog. NSFW. JK.

My bedroom and side table. I think of it as crack-house chic.
When I was tasked with the job of describing my bedtime reading situation I immediately warned my taskmaster that the headline of “Bedside Manner” would be a misnomer. While, yes, I do have a bedside table that I bought from Target and use largely as a stool for odd jobs around the house, I do not read in my bedroom. In fact I don’t even have a readily usable light source in my bedroom (the switch for my lamp can only be accessed by moving my mattress from the wall). I enter my bedroom to go to sleep and leave it the moment I wake up. Typical bedroom activities – e.g., reading, dressing, lingering half-asleep after hitting the snooze button, intercourse – I do elsewhere in my house. (Half-kidding about the intercourse, but I’m serious about everything else.) My thought was to photograph and discuss my living room table which until a few weeks ago was my book and video game receptacle. Having recently adopted a dog who has come to think of that same table as a pedestal for his chew toys (I learned that lesson the hard way … five times), all items have now been relocated.

And so you have my speaker-side piles of books and video games that stand proud like the two glowing blue sphinxes from The Neverending Story guarding my kitchen from trespassers. Mixed in those stacks are various games, books about video games, back issues of Game Informer and Game Developer magazines (not pictured), old issues of the Chronicle (mostly with articles I wrote to bring home so my mom can show them off to anyone willing to look), and that Life on Mars DVD set I’ve been meaning to finish for a year and change.

Please notice the discrepancy between the stack height of this and the following picture.
The books currently in rotation are pictured. I reviewed Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter a few months back, and I couldn’t agree with myself more. Fun Inc.: Why Gaming Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century, a book about gamification (a term that went out of style concurrently with this book hitting the stands), has yet to be finished and it’s not looking good. The slightly chewed volume titled 1,001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die is bathroom reading in the best sense of the phrase. And The Name of the Rose will get read right after the season finale of Life on Mars.

What’s missing here? In my humble opinion, gaming needs a textbook. Something that covers game theory from Roger Caillois and Johan Huizinga but also has case studies, auteur bios (Yu Suzuki anyone?), and whatever else is important to game designers and enthusiasts. I want this imaginary book to be long, dry, and required reading for all game design freshmen. This volume should be titled simply Video Games and be daunting enough in its girth to command the respect of other art forms. I don’t care how many transcendent blogs are posted about the worth or history of gaming, until there is a physical book in every university book store that taunts readers with its density we have not arrived.

Somebody get on that, because I’m sure as hell not writing it.

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Bedside Manner, Roger Caillois, Johan Huizinga, Tom Bissell, Fun Inc., 1,001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die

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