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Publisher's Summary

'Etchells writes eloquently ... A heartfelt defence of a demonised pastime' --The Times

'Once in an age, a piece of culture comes along that feels like it was specifically created for you, the beats and words and ideas are there because it is your life the creator is describing. Lost In A Good Game is exactly that. It will touch your heart and mind. And even if Bowser, Chun-li or Q-Bert weren't crucial parts of your youth, this is a flawless victory for everyone' --Adam Rutherford

When Pete Etchells was 13, his father died from motor neurone disease. In order to cope, he immersed himself in a virtual world - first as an escape, but later to try to understand what had happened. Etchells is now a researcher into the psychological effects of video games, and was co-author on a recent paper explaining why WHO plans to classify "game addiction" as a danger to public health are based on bad science and (he thinks) are a bad idea. 

In this, his first book, he journeys through the history and development of video games - from Turing’s chess machine to mass multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft or Fortnite - via scientific study, to investigate the highs and lows of playing and get to the bottom of our relationship with games - why we do it, and what they really mean to us.

At the same time, Lost in a Good Game is a very unusual memoir of a writer coming to terms with his grief via virtual worlds, as he tries to work out what area of popular culture we should classify games (a relatively new technology) under.

©2019 Pete Etchells (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

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What listeners say about Lost in a Good Game

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not actually a book about video games

I was expecting the author to go into the science of game theory. Or maybe some history sprinkled with random interesting nuggets of information.

Instead it's mostly the author using the book as a means to work through his dad's death.

If that is what you want a cathartic deep dive into the author's life then I can recommend this. If you were expecting otherwise stay away.

6 people found this helpful

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Imagine with me

The best description of our shared imaginary worlds I have ever seen, and a great repudiation of the understanding that computer based games are somehow, some way outside of the rest of human culture. A book not to miss.

4 people found this helpful

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A great look into games research.

I got this book to aid me in developing better games. I didn’t know what to expect as I had purchased several books with minor research into each. I thought it might be more of a study of mechanics and features, but instead, it’s an in depth look into the research being done on games as a whole. Are they good for us? Do violent video games increase aggression? Are loot boxes preying on the psychology of gamers? This book is amazing a breaking down these questions and more with a truthful look into the research, biases and ignorance surrounding games. I highly recommend!!!

3 people found this helpful

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Making me wonder why I enjoy games

The single most dense source of unique ideas about video games I think I have ever encountered. Everything from psychology to revenue models to how games make us better. I love thinking about why i love this medium so much and Dr. Etchells brought some incredible insights to my internal dialogue. Suuuuuper good

1 person found this helpful

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Zero insightful content

This is in essence, a personal memoir written by a gentleman who casually games and reminisces about his childhood arcade games. Each chapter title does a horrendous job of describing its content. “Why we game” for instance, is really a several page description of why HE games. “The history of gaming” is an overview of his trip to a small gaming museum.

If you’re going for insights into the making of a great game, this is not the book you’re looking for.

1 person found this helpful

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Not another gaming history book

Although there is some gaming history that has been covered in many books, videos, and podcasts this book goes beyond the casual pull off nostalgia.I enjoyed the review of methods used in psychological studies into gaming and the personal stories of gaming influence.

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it's not what I expected

but it was still good. it's more of a random walk through the author's life and his relationship with video games. The author is also a psychologist and a researcher. I especially enjoyed his chapter on research bias and why we don't have conclusive answers about the connection between violence and violent video games.

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Good Games, Okay Book

Closer to 3.5 stars.
This book is a little bit of a lot of things. One part memoir. One part history book. One part psychological study/theory.

Each of them are written okay. There really isn’t much special to point out, however. The historic part was probably the most interesting to me. I would have liked to know more about the inspiration for games or how they had an effect on history, etc.
But there is very little of that here.

The psychological part would be interesting if only the author (Pete Etchells) dove deeper into it than simple theories he comes up with.

The memoir portions are alright. They are more or less short stories about how important events in Etchell’s life occurred and what video games coincided with said memories. That’s about it.

I will give it this: it’s an easy listen.

My big point of confusion is that Etchell is a UK writer, but the audiobook has an American narrator (Ryan Burke)? I’m not sure why.

Anyway, not for everyone, but currently free on audible via their plus catalog.

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Touching 😢

I feel sad at some parts but can connect to the author. Personally the way he made it I feel like anyone can, not in a bad way in a way the he shows how even if it happens to you it can happen to all. The research dives so deep into what can happen with video games, how the games effect us, how we work and the games work,how the video games help us and don’t help us.

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informative story

I think this story informative on the mental state of Courage audience or people. It just so happens to have a few games mixed into help comprehend it a little better. So check it out when you get a chance.

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  • Catherine
  • 06-22-19

Outstanding book spoiled by the narrator

This is a brilliant book, well written, interesting and thought provoking. I’d recommend it to anyone with any interest in games, psychology or the scientific method.
I did find the narrator off putting though - although he reads well it was continually grating to hear a Bon written by someone who is British and which is set largely in the UK read by someone with such a broad American accent. His strange pronunciation of place names and odd emphasis made it difficult to listen to at times.
Having said that, the book was good enough for me to thoroughly enjoy it despite this and I’ll probably listen to it again.

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • David Law
  • 07-02-19

Bit bias

I am, and have been a gamer, for 25 years. i am passionate about them forever and bought this in the hope of exploring the study of the media. I find his comments on addiction are lacking though, as he only comments on how much games impact users - while using them. Like speaking about the impact of gambling, or other addictions, while sufferers are involved in the vice. However, the impact of withdrawal needs to be taken into account also, when quantifying addiction. He also skirts around the recent shift of games to incorporate gambling techniques to keep people hooked, only speaking about obvious examples. However, his own favorite - world of warcraft - clearly employs the same techniques to encourage regular play. The author mentions that he's bias, but i feel that chapter 7 onwards is still hard to finish, despite that admission. The studies he picks out by this point in the book, are also cherry picked to illustrate his own point. All i do agree with is, his point about how the discussion on the subject needs to be less vitriolic, but i dont feel this book invites that discussion. I play games for hours a day, and don't feel that they impact my life negatively. However i can see a very easily see how it could be quantified as addiction, and more importantly - know MANY gamers who cannot bring themselves to be seperate from whatever avatar they have created of themselves

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-24-21

GGWP

A gentle reminder not to see the world in absolutes. It was a very informative and nice listening experience.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-09-22

Focuses a bit too much on research

Although the premise of the book is "Why we play video games and what they can do for us", I felt like this is not exactly what this book was about. A lot of the content was concerned with research on videogames and most notably an entire chapter about how current research methods are flawed and cause videogames to be put into a bad light, most notably linking them to acts of aggression, such as school shootings and murder.

Having said that, the book was enjoyable, but maybe exactly because I wasn't expecting it to touch research on videogames so much. It has given me a very good view of how research is conducted and how hard it is to explain human behaviour through research and how quickly we can become biased to look for outcomes in the data that support our own beliefs. In other words, most research conducted will always be flawed in some way. Some very concerning examples were given about this as well.

The book seems to hang somewhere in between a light autobiography, insights in research methods and well, videogames themselves. Still, I was constantly left with the feeling that videogames were being pressed to the background in favour of discussing research methods and specifically to target a few people who are against videogames to point out their flawed logic. What I was really missing was: Why we play videogames and what they can do for us. I feel that when you use this subtitle for a book, the reader would think that this is going to be the subject of the book.

I'm glad I gave this book a read and I love the insights I gained about research, but if I had known beforehand just how much time would be spent talking about research on videogames and research methods in general, I would've probably picked another read. Still, this is a good book and I would recommend everyone to give it a try if you're interested in research about videogames.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-05-22

A mix of personal story and insight into research

I wasn't sure what to expect as this was a gift. The personal element at different points in the story is relatable and helps with progressing what sometimes felt like reading from a boring wiki of information. I liked the impartial commentary on gaming research. The references to some games I've played brought back memories and some interesting viewpoints. Quite short. I would have liked to hear more of the authors thoughts on the misogyny seen at esports events.

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  • GeekListener
  • 06-06-22

An exploration of video games befitting the diversity of its subject

I’m a listener who doesn’t much play video games, and never plays the sort of lengthy, immersive games that we may think of as the province of “gamers”. And yet I am fascinated by them from a distance.

I found this book a very interesting listen: a tour of the history and diversity of video games, and a sceptical interrogation of the psychological science that has studied them so far, interspersed with the author’s own personal video game journey. I thought the writing was very successful, let down as an audiobook just a little by narration that was not convincing as the voice of an English academic psychologist.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-14-22

Just ok.

The author's personal stories on how games have played a part in the good and bad times of his life are quite engaging and the best part of this book.

The majority of the book though discusses the psychology and science of why we play games and their affect on us, which seems interesting, but I found these sections pretty dry and dull with not that many interesting examples or case studies.