Jim Rossignol’s This Gaming Life is a casual discourse on the growing culture of multiplayer gaming. It isn’t so much an exercise in New Game Journalism as it is a look at the way that players are beginning to reflect their gaming lifestyles in the real world. From the celebrity culture of South Korea to Iceland’s bold experiment in EVE Online, all are explored as Rossignol argues the merits of online games as an after the fact situation. They are here to stay and are only getting more popular.
Rossignol describes his interest in games as casual until he took up a boring job and a copy of Quake III. He writes, “Cold mornings, adolescent disinterest, and a nagging hip injury had meant that I was banished from the sports field for many years” (7). A lot of the opening pages are spent justifying this decision, beginning with the point that, like any amusement, it’s the user who makes such decisions into something positive or negative. He points out that the art conversation hasn’t been relevant since DuChamp put a urinal on a wall and writes, “The reason for arguing that games—at least some games—deserve to be classified as art is that it offers gamers a more positive, culturally sanctioned way to describe what they do. It suggests that games are not mere trivia” (18). Borrowing from Ian Bogost’s Procedural Rhetoric, Rossignol explains that the focus of a game is complex experimentation. The plot of Super Mario Brothers is not really the point of the game, it’s about “learning how to run, jump, and open treasure chests” (20). Rather than try to make some bold argument for education or deep human experiences, Rossignol dismisses most of these claims in favor of championing what games already do quite well: fix boredom. He cites a text by Lars Svendsen that points out that boredom is in reality a very real problem today. It was not even in the English language in 1760, being coined to describe “the feeling that there’s nothing worth doing”. It’s not a matter of sitting on your ass; it’s finding nothing meaningful in your life that you want to work for. Rossignol writes, “The bored are not necessarily unhappy with life; they are simply unfulfilled by circumstances, activities, and the things around them” (31). Games are valid then to him because they help to solve this.