Virtual Ascendance


In 1958, Willy Higinbotham created Tennis for Two, the first screen-based interactive game. Ten years later, Ralph Baer invented the video game and built the first home console, dubbed the “Brown Box” and marketed by Magnavox as the Odyssey in 1972. That same year, Nolan Bushnell and Atari, Inc. released Pong, the first commercially successful arcade game. On its own, each of these developments was a groundbreaking achievement. Together, they launched an industry that changed the world.

Virtual Ascendance: Video Games and the Remaking of Reality explores the video game industry from its quiet inception to its current status as a dominant global enterprise, illuminating the various ways games and gaming are impacting society at large. It tells the story of a formerly fringe activity that, when few were paying attention, exploded into a multi-billion dollar industry affecting how we work, play and live—and it shows the reader just how important it is to pay attention now. Virtual Ascendance takes the reader on a journey of discovery, stopping to watch professional gaming, take in a symphonic game music concert, travel to virtual worlds, witness the convergence of movies and games, and explore research labs where video games are treating patients with ailments from Parkinson’s to PTSD. The people we meet are as varied as the uses to which games have been put, stretching the idea of what a game can be and pushing the limits of what they can do.

This slim volume will be an eye-opener for anyone wanting to understand the world of gaming from a sociological viewpoint. Griffiths is quick to both acknowledge and dispel cultural clichés surrounding gamers (geeks and dorks, socially maladjusted young males), and in a sense, this is the key to the book. While providing a concise popular history of computer and console gaming, the author demonstrates that gamers and gaming are pervasive in contemporary society—to an extent that few are aware of. He points to the money generated by the industry, to its emerging champion players, and to its prominence in all forms of media. This book should be required reading for legislators as they grapple with violence and attempt to link it to video gaming, if only to force them to look at the phenomenon in its entirety. It is an excellent primer on video gaming and its present place in culture.” Summing Up: Essential. All readers.
W. H. Harris, Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, formerly, University of Texas at Brownsville

Reading Virtual Ascendence is like playing a great videogame – the paths taken are often surprising, the environment is rendered in engaging detail, and the characters are richly drawn. From casual games to war games, Devin Griffiths writes with a warmly intellectual sense of wonder, purpose and play.”
— Derek A. Burrill, associate professor of Media and Cultural Studies, U.C. Riverside

Videogames matter. Probably more than you even realize. And here Devin Griffiths sets out, in an informed and engaging manner, exactly why and how they matter. From hardcore gamers, to those with a passing interest, or even for those with no knowledge of gaming at all, this book will tell you what you need to know, and why you need to know it.”
— Garry Crawford, professor of sociology, author of Video Gamers

Virtual Ascendance is an excellent descriptive account of the increasingly widespread use of digital games in our lives, from serious games to playful entertainment.”
— J. Talmadge Wright, graduate program director, department of sociology, Loyola University Chicago

Reality, as you know it, is over–and Virtual Ascendance is the handbook for the revolution. Don’t get left behind. Pick up a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, or directly through the publisher. And for the latest news, including author appearances, follow Virtual Ascendance on Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s