Tag Archives: Kindle

Me and my Kindle


Despite my assurances in my last post that I’ve been gaming as much as ever, there’s one area where I’ve been letting the side down, and it’s in portables. I love my 3DS and Vita – aka Persona 4: The Console – but my omnipresent-electronic-companion-that-isn’t-my-phone has been a simple Kindle. I love the little thing.

What I like about the basic Kindle is that it’s cheap, it has a long battery life, and it focuses on doing one thing very well. In other words, it’s the complete opposite of modern portable hardware. It’s the original Game Boy reborn, minus games.

Every function of the thing is available on just about any phone or tablet, but they don’t match the experience of reading on paper like an E Ink screen, and just being on for a day will drain their battery, whereas this can last me a month. That’s why this will be going with me on holiday – it can survive a long-haul flight and a few days away from a power outlet, whereas my Vita certainly couldn’t.

Mostly, though, I like that it’s rekindled – seriously, no pun intended – a love of reading that’s been latent since I hit my teens. I cleared 46 books in 2013, my first full year with a Kindle, which is probably more than I managed in the previous decade. I’ve sworn off reading at that pace again, simply because it turns it into less a hobby and more a production line, but I’m already on my tenth book of 2014.

Unfortunately, it seems like ebook reader sales in general have been falling. The market has spoken and shown that people prefer one device that does everything – tablets, in other words. It’s not a surprise, since we’ve seen how many use their console as their primary Blu-ray player, or who prefer the ‘good enough’ phone camera to a dedicated unit. And thankfully Amazon has never required Kindles to be profitable, as they’re really a vector to sell ebooks, so falling sales aren’t the disaster they can be for a console.

It’s sad that ‘good enough’ so often trumps ‘great’, as any videophile who weeps at the thought of DVD outselling Blu-ray will tell you, but the Kindle seems to be one that’s set up to survive nonetheless, able to serve its dedicated following thanks to the fortunate position of not needing to make money. If only Nintendo could crack that one…

Is There a Better Book About Games Than Game Over?

Game OverIt’s been a while since I’ve written anything about games, mainly because I haven’t been playing them. My free time has been dominated by reading, an ancient form of entertainment made modern and more ubiquitous by the Kindle I got for my last birthday. An ill-advised Goodreads challenge to get through 40 books in 2013 – a lot when you enjoy 1,500-page fantasy epics – and the pressures of another new job have dominated my free time in recent months.

I’m all about efficiency, though, so why not combine my twin loves by gushing over Game Over, David Sheff’s wonderful book about the rise of Nintendo. It’s both, for my money, the best book ever written about games and surely the greatest free gift to accompany a magazine since that before-they-were-popular pack of Pogs I got with the Beano. Like most who’ve read it these days, I got my copy on the cover of the tragically short-lived Arcade magazine in the late 90s.

The rate at which I burn through books and a surfeit of great literature to read means that I rarely read them more than once. The small list that I still return to occasionally goes like this: Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Lord of the Rings, The Lord of the Flies, and Game Over. Spot the odd one out.

Only I don’t think it is out of place there. We have two greats of speculative fiction with important things to say about human nature, a towering giant of fantasy, and a top-tier non-fiction book about business. It being about games dovetails wonderfully with my tastes, of course, but such an engrossing account of any industry in its heyday would be worthy of praise. It’s a comprehensive account of how Nintendo built up the industry as it exists today, the glorious 8- and 16-bit days, and the inner workings of a notoriously secretive company.

In that respect, it’s at least as good as, say, Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography – a far better-known account of the rise of a technology giant, but one that’s been documented at least as well elsewhere.

Even speaking as someone without much stake in Nintendo these days, a proper follow-up to Game Over would be one of my dream announcements. An account of this quality to take us through Nintendo’s part in the rise of the PlayStation, the commercial decline of the N64 and GameCube years, and the boom-and-bust DS/Wii-Wii U era would make for arguably more fascinating reading than how Nintendo built the modern industry in the first place.

Now, though, GTA V is here. Finally, a game worth talking about…