Swedish technology writers Goldberg and Larsson (Minecraft: The Game that Changed Everything, 2011, etc.) gather a selection of “New Games Journalism” pieces, representing a recent development in writing about video games that focuses not on the technological or entertainment aspects of the medium but on the cultural, social, and political contexts in which the games exist. A focal point for this new approach has been the distressing “Gamergate” scandal, which found women who questioned sexist elements of games—or who created their own alternatives or merely presumed to make their voices heard at all—on the receiving ends of a massive torrent of online threats of sexual assault and murder from frustrated male gamers. Gamergate has inspired much insightful consideration (including Dan Golding’s essay, “The End of Gamers,” included here), but this book also includes thoughtful considerations of race, gender, sexuality, mental illness, and violence in gaming. Evan Narcisse writes of his frustration with the lack of acceptable representations of black people in games, while Hussein Ibrahim examines his ambivalence as an Arabic man killing scores of Arabic enemies in military shooter games. Developers like Merritt Kopas, Zoe Quinn, and Anna Anthropy recount their struggles to create games that meaningfully confront topics such as depression and sexuality, while other writers examine pervasive tropes and their larger meanings—e.g., the popularity of apocalyptic settings and the masochistic anti-pleasures of maddening time-wasters like "Flappy Bird." The essays are uniformly well-written, full of personal passion and journalistic rigor, and they fully convince readers of the relevance and urgency of this new form of criticism.
A consistently engaging and insightful reckoning with the serious implications of the ascendant entertainment medium of the 21st century.
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)