Book Review: Going Nowhere: A Life in Six Video Games by Sam Leith

Despite having the look and being a geek in many respects, I’ve never been a big game. I’ve had minor addictions over the years (Tetris, Halo, Angry Birds and most recently FIFA) but I’ve never been totally sucked in, and never owned my own console. But I took a punt on this book and it really paid off.


From early excitement over Planetoids to addiction with World of Warcraft, Leith discusses his relationship with video games. But it’s more than that, because Leith talks about how games have impacted on his life and the different reasons which have pushed him to withdraw into virtual realities. He perfectly captures the awkwardness of his teens with an honesty and intensity which makes them painfully fresh. But it’s not adolescent whining, because it’s filtered through adult insight and reflection, the writing is smart, quick and engrossing.
Leith is an open, insightful writer who spills his guts about his personal life, from his teenage awkwardness to his extended adolescence, living with his brother and spending his evenings playing games. He uses them as an escape from the problems of the real world, or as a form of release from stress. But acknowledges that this withdrawal isn’t always healthy and that as a father with more responsibility the allure of gaming is beginning to fade. And that the nature of online living might be changing how we interact.
Leith shows real insight, explaining the appeal of gaming and about his own problems. I read this on a crowded train home and devoured it in less than hour. Leith holds the reader’s attention extremely well and is an engaging narrator,and a writer I will look for in the future.
Verdict: Wonderfully written, a quick read which is very personal, and filled with insight, character and warmth. Leith is a great writer and engages us in his personal journey through video games. 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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