Category Archives: Books

Nerd Psychology book review

Is ‘nerd’ merely a pejorative term, or is there more to it? Is ‘nerd’ just another word for a troll? Alexander Hinkley has made it his mission to explain what makes a nerd a nerd, with his book Nerd Psychology.

After studying for his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology, and Criminal Justice at Niagara University, with a minor in Philosophy, and obtaining a certification in Homeland Security, Alexander became interested in what makes people tick.

Growing up around the individuals mentioned in his book, and after interviewing literally thousands of nerds, Hinkley discovered out that the responses he received painted pictures of individuality but with some stand-out similarities. He found it interesting that complete strangers kept acting in a similar way, and would say similar things game after game.

The term ‘nerd’ was first recorded in the Dr Seuss book, If I Ran the Zoo (1950), and historically has always been regarded as a derogative term. Nerds were always regarded as the less sociable, more obsessive geek, but Alexander believes that there’s much more to a nerd than being a super geek.

Discussing various psychological theories, such as ego states, ego boosting, and possible reasons as to why nerds behave the way they do, Nerd Psychology gives a unique insight into what makes a nerd, a nerd. Using theories from revered Psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and Eric Berne, Hinkley provides a fascinating insight into why nerds behave the way they do.

Hinkley delves deeper into the nerd psyche, and investigates why they use power-assertive behaviour, and how they often haven’t progressed from their child state of mind. How nerds pick on the weak to boost their ego, due to possible negative encounters in other parts of their lives, and how they’re focused solely on winning, regardless of the implications.

The comparison Hinkley makes between nerds and trolls is expected but intriguing, and I would highly recommend Nerd Psychology to anyone who wishes to look deeper into why certain gamers behave the way they do. Hinkley provides several tips and tricks for how to respond to these types of gamers, and using several case studies, gives excellent examples of where you may come across such players.

Nerd Psychology is available to buy from Amazon, in both digital and physical formats for £4.90 and £9.32 respectively.

Online Game Pioneers at Work review

Acting as a sequel/continuation of Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play, Online Game Pioneers at Work is another in-depth collection of interviews with game developers shining a light on the process of creating games, building a company and the trails, tribulations and successes that go with it. The focus this time is on online IPs and company structure, but each interviewee has a great deal more knowledge to share about general development and how their passion for videogames and creativity shaped their careers.

It’s a fascinating read spanning interviews with 16 of the top online game pioneers in the industry. Emily Greer, co-founder of the online portal for flash games, Kongregate; co-founder of Origin Systems turned astronaut, Richard Garriott; and Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeshuk, co founders of BioWare, are but a few of those author Morgan Ramsay interviewed, each sharing their own personal story about a career in an industry they love, openly and frankly sharing the difficulties and successes of creating games and building companies within this competitive and dynamic industry.

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As each interviewee tells their in-depth story you feel their struggles, celebrate their successes and experience their fears, uncertainties, nostalgia and relief. It’s a remarkable journey for you as a reader. This is partly because of the overwhelming passion of each developer; their love for all things videogame related is palpably evident, meanwhile, Morgan Ramsay probes with beautifully fluid and open questions, allowing the conversation to flow and immerse you in its narrative of hobby turned to passion turned to career. The process of developing games and building a company has seldom felt so real and personal.

Moreover, because these are such frank and in-depth interviews, the knowledge you can glean from it is immense. Whether you are interested in the industry as a player who wants to see more behind the curtain, a journalist looking for a deeper understanding, or a developer looking to follow in the interviewee’s footsteps, this is an invaluable resource.

Indeed Online Game Pioneers at Work is a terrific read. discovering each developer’s story and following their accounts of developing in different eras and countries, and then enveloping  yourself in their shared passion, is invigorating. You’re likely to come away from reading this even more excited about videogames than you all ready are. You’ll have a greater understanding of how they’re developed, the goals of a development teams, the love, care, time, money, sweat and blood that’s poured into them. It’s a harsh industry, certainly, and these accounts paint it vividly and truthfully, but there’s no denying it’s creative pull, superb products, and fascinating members.

Thanks to Morgan Ramsay and Apress for their support 

Halo: Hunters In The Dark book review

New York Times bestselling author Peter David and is well known for his work across comic books, novels, televisions, movies and video games. Peter was the writer behind The Incredible Hulk comics for nearly 12 years and TV shows like Babylon 5 and Young Justice. This isn’t his first novel set within a game universe however. In 2010 Peter wrote The Balverine Order, a novel set between the events of the Fable II and Fable III video games for Xbox 360.


Synopsis / Summary

It is 2555, more than two years after the Master Chief went missing-in-action following a decisive conflict on Installation 00 – the massive, extragalactic Forerunner construct known as the Ark – as part of the final chapter in humanity’s bloody thirty-year struggle against the overwhelming forces of the Covenant. Now, as a tenuous peace exists between the humans and the Elites, a startling scientific discovery is made… and the riddle behind its Forerunner origins could very well seal the fate of the entire galaxy within a matter of weeks. In order to unravel these dangerous secrets, a heroic, hastily formed coalition of humans and Elites must attempt to overcome their differences as they embark on a covert mission back to the Ark—an astonishing, enigmatic place beyond comprehension from which few have returned and where mortal danger awaits them all.

Halo: Hunters in the Dark is the 15th novel-length book in the Halo franchise and the second to be released in 2015. Set in 2555 (two years after the end of Halo 3, the novel follows a joint UNSC/Sangheili expedition to the remains of the Ark to solve a mystery that threatens everyone in the galaxy.

Hunters in the Dark is a solid piece of fiction and an awesome addition to the Halo universe. The story and characters were great and the story was paced pretty well. There are a few minor things that crept up and were slightly annoying. For instance Peter David seems to constantly compare the sounds of the Arks wildlife to purrs and everything consistently seems to be centimetres from characters faces. There are times that the writing seems a little simple in style, but then this occurred rarely and didn’t detract from the story. Another annoyance was the use of flashbacks and extended backstory to explain a character’s actions. Normally this can help add to the overall character and story development, but in this case they are so randomly scattered throughout the novel, many tense and dramatic scenes suddenly come to a halt for a paragraph or two of exposition.

All in all, I recommend Hunters In The Dark to any Halo fan as a worthwhile read. Peter David has made a solid entry in the Halo franchise with this, his first Halo book. If you’ve no interest in the Halo franchise however, I suggest you stay clear.

Halo: Hunters In The Dark was released on the 16th June and is available from Titan Books for £7.99

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