This book desperately needs the loving attention of a fact-checker and a good editor. I was constantly gritting my teeth over simple, obvious errors that could easily have been caught before publication. They're not huge, but they certainly undermine Goldberg's credibility as a supposed lifelong nerd and video game fan. For example, he refers to Dungeons and Dragons as a board game, and calls the iconic Big Daddy enemy from BioShock a robot. Other reviewers have pointed out more errors in previous reviews. I'm by no means sitting here turning purple with nerd-rage because he described something incorrectly, but when an author attempts to speak with authority on a subject, and then mangles minor but obvious details, it reflects poorly on his actual knowledge of the subject. Imagine reading a book about film history where the author referred to Luke Skywalker's father, Obi-Wan Kenobi, or Dorothy's iconic line, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Texas anymore." On the surface, mangling a noun here or there doesn't vastly change the point the author's making, but you start to wonder if they actually know what they're talking about.
Other reviewers have covered the writing style, and it bothered me too. It's casual to the point of being juvenile. The book is peppered with watered-down swear words like "crappy" or "freakin", and atrocious metaphors like this gem: "the videogame industry was growing as fast as pot under a grow lamp". I felt like Goldberg was standing next to me elbowing me in the ribs grinning, "aren't I cute? aren't I irreverent? aren't I funny and hip?"
I don't have many positive things to say about the content, either. I took specific umbrage with the ending of his chapter on Roberta Williams and Sierra On-Line. In the very last paragraph of the chapter, Goldberg says that Williams is the only female game company founder to ever consistently produce good product. He points out that bestseller franchises Assassin's Creed and Uncharted were both developed by women, but skates right past and says that no woman since Williams has had a major impact on the industry. Then he ends the chapter, right there, without any discussion of the historical reasons why women haven't had the same kind of industry impact as men. The way he phrases it makes it sound patronizing and dismissive, as though women somehow just sadly haven't worked hard enough to have any kind of lasting legacy. I recognize that it was probably due to oversight than to any kind of intentional misogynistic agenda, but it made me want to throw up my hands. He set himself up for a great opportunity to talk about the kinds of historical forces that are still driving the industry today (not just sexism, but all kinds of marginalization and exclusion), and he dropped the ball.
The chapter on video game movies as perpetual failures seems to contradict his thesis that video games have conquered pop culture: if they have, then why do video game movies all suck? He could have gotten his teeth into that, but he doesn't.
Two whole chapters on Rockstar seems like favoritism, especially since the first is just a founding-of story. He could easily have condensed that to one if he'd stopped going on and on about how punk rock and edgy they are.
This whole book feels like the author just dropped the ball. Don't bother.