SHOOTER, a newly released book edited by Reid McCarter and Patrick Lindsey, is what happens when gaming’s most familiar genre – the gun-toting shooter – is examined by some of the industry’s top critics.
The book, effectively a collection of academic essays and personal stories about “shooters” is destined to become mandatory reading material for the criticism-minded gamer, but it is much more than that. Shooter, specifically because it deals directly with the time-honored genre, is approachable despite its academic base. As video games continue to grow as the definitive form of electronic entertainment, books like Shooter are in the unique position to show the gaming masses the importance of critical thought when applied to games. If there is one thing that Shooter does well, it is its smart presentation of criticism that has been applied to many popular games.
Shooter feels as though it is equal parts an academic study of an entire genre and a love letter to it. Each chapter features a different author tackling a different game. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Far Cry 4 and Fallout 3 are discussed alongside Kane & Lynch 2 and Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, offering gamers a chance to read about games they are more than likely familiar with and those that slipped relatively under the radar.
The greatest strength of Shooter is in its variety of voices. Each author brings their own opinion and views to the genre at hand, allowing for a read that is as varied and enjoyable as the games discussed. Because of this, landscape of criticism found throughout Shooter never outstays its welcome. Even the most academic-minded pieces in the book weigh in under twenty pages, providing for insightful, yet light, chapters.
After finishing Shooter, it is hard not to be impressed with the book as a whole. The talented writers featured have done commendable work. With essays that range from comparing Wolfenstein: The New Order’s BJ Blazkowicz journey to that of Beowulf’s, to a the meta-commentary on the design, developer and player in Haze, and a handful of others, Shooter stands as a critical touchstone that unifies some of the smartest voices in the gaming world.
What makes Shooter even more appealing is its price tag. At $5.00 (or more if you are a generous human), Shooter is affordable and pays for itself within mere pages. The information and insight featured in the 150-some pages of Shooter is unparalleled.
If you’ve any interest in games criticism or just like pointing guns at digital bad guys, Shooter is probably the best book you’ll read this summer.