Critical Hits: Writers Playing Video Games (Paperback)

Critical Hits: Writers Playing Video Games By Carmen Maria Machado (Editor), J. Robert Lennon (Editor) Cover Image
By Carmen Maria Machado (Editor), J. Robert Lennon (Editor)
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A wide-ranging anthology of essays exploring one of the most vital art forms on the planet today

From the earliest computers to the smartphones in our pockets, video games have been on our screens and part of our lives for over fifty years. Critical Hits celebrates this sophisticated medium and considers its lasting impact on our culture and ourselves.

This collection of stylish, passionate, and searching essays opens with an introduction by Carmen Maria Machado, who edited the anthology alongside J. Robert Lennon. In these pages, writer-gamers find solace from illness and grief, test ideas about language, bodies, power, race, and technology, and see their experiences and identities reflected in—or complicated by—the interactive virtual worlds they inhabit. Elissa Washuta immerses herself in The Last of Us during the first summer of the pandemic. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah describes his last goodbye to his father with the help of Disco Elysium. Jamil Jan Kochai remembers being an Afghan American teenager killing Afghan insurgents in Call of Duty. Also included are a comic by MariNaomi about her time as a video game producer; a deep dive into “portal fantasy” movies about video games by Charlie Jane Anders; and new work by Alexander Chee, Hanif Abdurraqib, Larissa Pham, and many more.

About the Author

J. Robert Lennon is the author of nine novels and three story collections, including Let Me Think, Subdivision, and Broken River.

Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the memoir In the Dream House and the story collection Her Body and Other Parties.

Praise For…

“In this variety pack of exciting essays, writers make an electric case for the essentiality of video games, both as storytelling aids and as ways of understanding the world. . . . Critical Hits marks the welcome ascendance of an emerging body of gamer literature.”—Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire's “Best Books of Fall 2023”

“[Video games] raise profound questions for the humans who find themselves enraptured by these digital puzzles, adventures, and battles lighting up their computers, televisions, or handheld consoles. . . . These questions and others receive sharp attention in essays by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Alexander Chee, Larissa Pham, and other authors who boldly own and astutely analyze their engagement with video games and their intersections with family, friendship, love, and other heady subjects.”Poets & Writers Magazine

“Insightful. . . . The diverse entries highlight the ways in which the far out plots of video games can change how players understand themselves and the world around them. Gamers with a literary bent should take a look.” Publishers Weekly

“Whether they’re casual gamers, lifelong fans, or simply curious, readers will come away with a deepened sense of appreciation for the medium.”Booklist

“Alexander Chee, Charlie Jane Anders, Hanif Abdurraqib, and other writers who love gaming wax poetic about the lasting emotional impact that comes with playing some of the most popular video games on the market: The Last of Us, Call of Duty, and Disco Elysium.”Time's “Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2023”

“A veritable arcade of essays on the cultural vitality of video games.”—Michelle Hart, Electric Literature's “Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books for Fall 2023”

“This is certainly our first Great American Gamer Essay Collection.”The Millions

“A loot drop of brilliance, and a hugely satisfying and entirely convincing literary salvo on the artistic worth of games in our lives.”—Naomi Alderman, author of The Power

“These fun, funny, occasionally cutting but often affirming essays celebrate the surprising potency of video games and virtual experiences. With any luck, this book will find a place of honor on every literary gamer’s bookshelf.”—Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter and co-author of The Disaster Artist

Product Details
ISBN: 9781644452615
ISBN-10: 1644452618
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication Date: November 21st, 2023
Pages: 224
Language: English