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A Journey Through the Strange, Scary, and Awe-Awakening World of Video Games

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What can this medium—even its most violent expressions—teach us about our deepest aches and longings?

I was born in 1982, the same year the Atari 2600 went on sale. My dad waited until I was older and could fully appreciate it before purchasing the system for me. That purchase would shape my life more than he anticipated. In his spare time, we would sit in front of the TV together and play Tank and Pong and attempt to decipher the disastrously designed E.T. For my dad, it barely ranked as a hobby. He was more interested in fishing and grilling.

But I had a lot more spare time than him and was far less interested in the outdoors. Every Christmas list was packed with requests for video games and the systems that played them. Faced with requests for a new console every four years or so, my parents would complain about forced obsolescence, that frustrating moment when you realize that a perfectly good piece of technology is no longer useful—a trend that started with the Nintendo-Sega arms race and not with Apple’s iPhone, as many assume.

As a result, I was intimately aware of the evolution of the video game medium. This may be why I was both intrigued and underwhelmed by Andrew Ervin’sBit by Bit: How Video Games Transformed Our World. Ervin seeks to provide a kind of historical walkthrough of the form, offering us a bird’s-eye view of just how drastically the aims and audience of video games have changed over time. He comes at his subject matter from an outsider’s perspective, transporting himself back in time to the first-ever video game, Tennis for Two, and exploring the twists and turns of the art form’s history by way of its most noteworthy creative innovations.

An Outsider’s Encounter

So much attention has been given to the evolution of the video game industry—financial models, …

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Source: Christianity Today Magazine

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