Recently we came into a collection of books from the awesome crew at DK Books to review. Among the superhero titles (which we’ll get to at a later date), we also got our hands on the anomaly called the Gamers’ Survival Guide. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this thing, so I cracked it open and went cover to cover trying to decide whether or not it was good.
Right off the bat, this book is, at its core, a health book for gamers. Which I’m not going to lie, a lot of us could use. The stereotype from South Park of fat people sitting in front of a TV playing games for 12-hour sessions is a stereotype for a reason. There’s a good chance that one out of every three gamers reading this review is out of shape in some form or another. Even if they aren’t fat, there’s a good chance we’re not headed to the gym on a regular basis. So the idea of creating a book with exercises gamers could do while waiting for matches or actually in-game is clever.
The pages contain bits and pieces from different programs and techniques, but don’t bog you down with 20 pages worth of information as if you’re signing up for some kind of daily routine. You’ll get a couple pages of what to do and how to do it, but nothing too intensive that it doesn’t require a bunch of studies. They don’t keep it to one selection either, as there are areas for yoga, calisthenics, stretching, weight lifting, and more. The book also addresses personal health in areas like sleep, eye care, social interaction, and getting outside, which are areas that people neglect in different ways.
The guide does suffer from one major flaw: It’s just as unhelpful and insulting as it is helpful. The book feels like it’s been written over a decade ago, with references to stuff that modern gamers wouldn’t know or care about, as well as misinformation. Here’s a good example: Look at #5 below. While the advice could be sound, the diagram shows a home phone attached to a cord. Who honestly still has this in their home right now? Another section, seen below, talks about the history of video games in the broadest of strokes and even gets some information wrong. I had an iPhone in 2008 with games on it, when was playing games anywhere on a mobile phone restricted to 2010?
There are sections of this book that are just downright unnecessary and you can tell were thrown in for filler. I already know how to deal with trolls: reporting and muting. Why do I need an entire section on it with three talking points that are the same thing? Why is there a section about how to “gamify my life” complete with a points system? Why is there a section telling me how to dress while I play games? Do I really need to wear rollerblades when playing a racing game and an army outfit when playing COD? This is how editors pad a book out so that instead of being a $10 gift on the register shelf at Barnes & Nobel, it becomes a $25 guide in the games section.
The Gamers’ Survival Guide has me torn. On the one hand, you have some useful information that could help in your daily lifestyle as a gamer. On the other hand, you have some downright terrible info and articles that make me embarrassed to read. I guess the book just comes down to being a so-so kind of book that some people will dig and get use out of, and others will laugh over or mistakingly thing we’re all just shut-ins who dress like ninjas whenever we play a fighting game.