books, classic computer games, author, Jonny Lupsha, Silent Hill, Broken Paragon, Video Games

The Broken Paragon by Jonny Lupsha

This is the ultimate book for gaming geeks. Jonny has taken various games and stripped them back to basics. Gone into great detail of how game companies can fool us into thinking a games area is bigger than it actually is. The use of music in games. Interviews with voice actors. Symbolism and subjects not many would write about but have been used to great effect within the gaming world.

I am a self-confessed gaming geek and have a huge love of Silent Hill. This was one of the reasons I needed to get my hands on this book as Mr. Lupsha has gone into various details about the games, not to mention the subject these games used as back stories that people wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about in polite company. When I started reading the work, however, I was fascinated by more than just the topic I had set out to read about.

First and foremost, this is a collection of essays. It's not a fan fiction or fantasy about video games, a lot of time and effort has gone into researching the subject matter within its covers. If you are expecting fantasy within a computer game scenario you will be sadly disappointed.

Under normal circumstances, I have never been someone who is interested in reading someone else’s views on a subject unless it is on social media or a website such as this, I certainly wouldn’t normally go and purchase a non-fiction reference book, but this deal with subjects I needed to know more about. It is extremely well written and even I learned a lot about my favorite subject of the Silent Hill franchise. There are certain things that you would never think of when you are actually playing the games, but when you read this book you think to yourself how the hell did I not notice that?

It features numerous papers on various topics from within the gaming medium and although there are some in here that didn’t really interest me as much as others, I still read them all. Mr. Lupsha knows his gaming stuff. Everyone can be an ‘expert’ to some form of degree and become arrogant in that area, but not once is there a feeling portrayed that what Mr. Lupsha writes about is right. Yes, there are some things that are probably from his point of view, but from the amount of research evident within the writing, most of what is here are facts and I for one can allow him to put across his idea from time to time, it’s an educated one.

Games covered range from various papers written about the Silent Hill games, Bioshock, The Last of Us to name a few. I especially loved the idea of a case study performed on choice based gaming in which he uses his family to play through few different games and discuss why they made what decision at certain points of the game. But it's more than that, it goes into the history of gaming and how long choice making decisions have been around in certain franchises. Some games designed now are solely based on this idea to steer the game in a certain direction, but I was never fully conscious of it happening in other games I had been a fan of in the past.

Seriously, if you love your gaming, this is a must read. It will open your eyes to certain aspects that you didn’t realise about before. On a scale of 1-10, it’s easily a 9 if not a 10. I guess that you don’t really have to be a gaming nerd to enjoy it either as it’s not all about the technology.

All I can say in summary is go out and buy it, you will love it. I know I did.

Andi Hodgetts

The Broken Paragon: A Collection of Essays on Video Games