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Video Games: The Secret Life

The slightly ungainly title of Michael Clune’s new book, Gamelife, gives an indication of what an unusual cross-breed it is: at once an affecting memoir of a lonely midwestern childhood in the 1980s and an argumentative essay on how video games work and what they can mean. It is brief and passionate, driven by the conviction that its subject matter is both essential and too often overlooked. “When it comes to probing questions about their intimate life as computer-game players,” he writes near the end, in what amounts to a kind of backdoor manifesto, “most people don’t have much to say…. Society has convinced them that computer games are a trivial pastime and there’s no reason to think about them.”

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