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Book Review: “In Play: Tales of the Gaming Netherworld” by Neils Clark 2014

Neils Clark has been researching videogames for over a decade.

Author Neils Clark. Source: Amazon
 He wrote In Play: Tales of the Gaming Netherworld, and co-wrote Game Addiction: The Experience and the Effects. Clark is an adjunct lecturer at the DigiPen Institute of Technology (one of the world’s largest game design Universities), and speaks at conferences like PAX Prime and Games for Health.
I came across his blog last year and more recently was introduced to his book In Play: Tales of the Gaming Netherworld by the author himself. Whenever I get scientific paper fatigue, I refer to his blog for a booster of gaming research inspiration. His writing is a constant reminder of why I chose to specialise in the field of Internet gaming research, because I too can identify as a “gamer”. Similarly, we have managed to turn those hours as children in front of a computer screen pushing buttons, into our work as adults helping others. I am passionate about helping others enjoy gaming in a healthy way and achieve not only in game achievements but also successes in real life (or as Clark describes in his book as “other game called don’t get kicked out”).
Co-Author of Game Addiction. Source: Amazon
His book is part gamer bio, history of gaming and textbook on game design. It is beautifully written using his own experience of gaming and how it has influenced his life. It includes many fun and nostalgic gaming moments from Wing Commander, Counter-Strike and Star Wars Galaxies (SWG the only one I haven’t played but can imagine vividly from Clark’s description).
I really enjoyed the references to the “who’s who” of game design research such as Richard Bartle, Jane McGonigal and Nick Yee. Clark is able to use his narrative to weave them together nicely for people foreign to this industry (like me).
In Play: Tales of the gaming netherworld
In Play showcases the intricacies of game design to help the reader understand how games can be so engaging (I dare not use the “F” word- fun anymore after reading this book!). You don’t have to be a gamer or a game designer  to understand this book .
In a lot of ways, I am envious of Clark’s career in game design (as a 14 year old, I came up with the idea for the iPad, described in my bucket list as “a computer book”). Much like the games he describes, Clark’s book gives us a glimpse into his world. He provides this not only from a gamer’s perspective but from a game designer’s view too.
In Play is a must have for any game designer/researcher/clinician’s library. If you are serious about helping someone with excessive Internet gaming, you must understand what makes gaming so engaging for them.
You can find his book as a paperback or kindle book on Amazon here.
Counter Strike receives a worthy mention. Source: Getintopic.com
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Game Addiction: The Experience and the Effects