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Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in damonbooks' LiveJournal:

Sunday, June 4th, 2006
9:20 am
New video game/book blog
My previous video game/book blog has transfered over to my website, DamonBrown.net. I write about video games for Playboy, SPIN and Computer Games, and have a new book on Satellite Radio coming out in a few weeks. I will also be one of the moderators at next week's Sex in Video Games conference.

Feel free to swing by, read and comment.

Below is an RSS feed/syndication link so you can read it within LJ.
RSS feed
Sunday, April 3rd, 2005
10:14 am
New York Times piece on the New Game Journalism
New Journalism, often associated with Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese and other journalists in the '60s and '70s, was a controversial style that used fiction writing techniques in nonfiction reporting. It made dry journalism more lively, but it was controversial because it often added an element of subjectivity to what was suppose to be an objective field. Hunter S. Thompson, who died about a month ago, is sometimes put in this category, which makes the timing of this New York Times piece on the New Video Game Journalism more interesting.

The stories they talk about have been posted on the web for a while (including here on livejournal), but it's good that video game journalism is even being recognized in the New York Times.

Here's the link for those with free New York Times accounts.

Notes On Halo

Others can read the story below.

Notes On HaloCollapse )
Saturday, March 5th, 2005
10:01 pm
Mario As Suge Knight
AAGamer, an African-American gamers website, just posted my latest essay on how video games have entered their own gangsta rap era. It's the most fun I've had with a piece in a while:

Mario As Suge Knight

Comments are appreciated.
Monday, February 21st, 2005
12:21 pm
Saturday, February 19th, 2005
11:29 am
Rollin' rollin' rollin'
I've turned my attention to doing writing related to the book as opposed to working on the book itself, which is helping me work out some of the ideas (and helping keep money in the bank). I'll drop a line when some of these get published.

For now, you can catch me in the new issue of Sync Magazine, Feb/Mar, on page 55. I did a short piece on playing imported Japanese games.

As any freelancer will tell you, the oddest thing is how long it takes for work to come out. I actually did the Japanese gaming piece back in mid-Fall, and have since worked on dozens of pieces for other publications, some of which aren't coming out until the summer or later. There's a surreal time flux that happens because magazines have a long production cycle.

That's nothing compared to books, though: Even a rushed book takes at least a half year to hit the bookshelves. Blah.

But it's been nine months working on this book and I'm still passionate about it. I can wait another year or two.

Current Mood: okay
Sunday, February 13th, 2005
6:16 pm
Still bangin'
This morning, at around 2 a.m., I finished 1/3rd of my book! I celebrated by dancing around and calling my girlfriend (about 8 hours later).

To further celebrate today I did what I always do when I hit a milestone: I read one of the books that inspired me in the first place. Today it was Fast Food Nation. It can be a rough, occasionally masochistic process, comparing my work to some of the best literature I've read in my life. But, as my book comes together, it's slowly becoming less a measurement and more a guidepost. Today I read the first 50 pages of Fast Food Nation and got inspired to edit my chapters. I did some nice, albeit subtle changes.

On to the next chapter!

Current Mood: accomplished
Wednesday, February 9th, 2005
12:40 pm
Songs of Experience
Here's a New York Observer story on one man's struggle to get his book published, something I can relate more to every day. The article is optimistic, frightning and, believe it or not, accurate as hell.

Favorite quote:
"What this experience did for me is allow me to free myself of some notion that there’s a certain kind of event that’s going to deliver me," Mr. Lipsyte said. "Or that even one’s day-to-day life will be eased financially, spiritually or emotionally by becoming a published author."

'Beloved Home Land, But How to Sell Sam? He’s Cute, But Fuzzy' by Wesley YangCollapse )

Current Mood: Mardi Grasish
Friday, February 4th, 2005
1:09 pm
Talk like sex
I don't know what to do with this.

In other news, I had a cool interview with Chris Kohler, author of the Japanese games book "Power Up". I read it over Thanksgiving and got more insight into Japan than I bargained for. If my book is for the masses, his book is for the otaku, as it's a pretty intense study into why the Japanese make games the way that they do. No other American book - I've probably read most of them by now! - has looked at video games from this perspective before, and that alone makes the book worthwhile.

When I first started writing The Dirty Dozen last spring, I had no role models for what I wanted to do, at least not within the video game field. Clive Thompson, whom I had been reading since the tech magazine Shift was still around, and a few other journalists were totally killing it - and I mean that in a good way. WIRED's special issue on Japan (Called "Japan Rocks") back in 2001 or so blew my mind, as did Elizabeth Kolbert's The New Yorker piece on Ultima Online - I still have both somewhere on my shelf. But I hadn't read any books that set the pace for what I wanted to do. So, I started looking outside of video games.

They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Last summer I was talking excitedly (as if there's any other way) about my book to one of my good friends, a movie buff. She lit up and recommended - no, told me to go buy Peter Biskind's "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls", a look at the personalities behind '70s renegade cinema. I got it immediately and fell in love with the structure, and the writing was colorful and interesting as well. It became my role model and, by doing the comparison ("Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" for video games), it helped other people see my vision, though I knew I didn't want my book to be half as gossip-heavy or, frankly, as intense as his. I just liked how he took in ALL of the world and presented it through cinema.

Then, last Friday, I received the latest issue of VIBE. It usually has three or four articles a year I keep and save, but otherwise I just move on. However, I read an excerpt of Jeff Chang's history of hip hop book, Can't Stop Won't Stop.

After reading the first paragraph, I knew I had to read the rest of the book. After reading the first magazine page, I knew I had to rethink my own shit. Brilliant. I love hip-hop, and this book makes me feel like hip-hop matters: It is political, it is exploitative, it is always representative of the times. It is not disposable. I feel that way about video games. I want others to feel that way about video games. I want to do for us what Jeff Chang did for hip-hop.

Keeping with that analogy, I'm realizing that my title isn't the average book, not so much one long song, one long narrative with facts aligned in concert like the Philharmonic Orchestra, but it's becoming more like a Brooklyn mix-tape, the kind with the homemade cover and "TDK CD-RW" written all over it, not clean and pristine, but jagged and intense. You can taste New York when you hear it. That's what I want, a veritable dirty sponge of racism and sexism and freedom and hate, a blend of American anger and Japanese creativity spread under the guise of entertainment. A crystal using video games as a prism for us to break down our solid defenses into clear lines of history.

That's all.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Thursday, February 3rd, 2005
9:32 am
I skimmed this Yahoo! article on Hollywood and video games first thing this morning, and then read it again after rous posted it on the girl_gamers. Initially I was going to add a comment to the already lively conversation, but my tirade became so long, I figured I should post about it, too.

The problems with the story? As rous pointed out, it assumes that the Hollywood/video game "synergy" is new, though people who did even a "I'm Feeling Lucky" Google search on Hollywood and video games would get a reference to 1982's Atari 2600/E.T. fiasco. In short, Atari paid millions to Speilberg for the movie license and, because it wanted it out by the time the movie hit theaters, it gave one of its programmers about a month to make the game from start to finish. Which was a mistake. The game was so bad (I know... I bought it), gamers started demanding returns and, myth has it, Atari buried millions of unsold E.T. cartridges ($29.95 a pop!) in an undisclosed New Mexico desert location for tax purposes. Um, how could the reporter miss this?

Secondly, and perhaps most bothersome, he makes up a term called "Gamewood". I don't know what that is. Video game culturists have a 40-year-old lexicon. Maybe you should use it.

I usually don't go off on a tangent (yeah, right), but this is frustrating as hell.

As a video game journalist with traditional journalism training, I can tell you that the average mainstream reporter that covers games also covers movies, books and the current "it" girl. Most are dubbed Entertainment Reporters, and video games are low on the totem pole, especially when compared to the new Jennifer Garner movie.

This article is just a reminder to me of how flippant video game coverage can be, hopefully something that my book and others work will help change, and until actual gamers - not people that just started playing when their frat buddies bought Halo, but people who grew up humming the Zelda theme song, or wanted to be game designers as a kid - become the reporters, video games will always be looked at as a disposable art, only important when attatched to something else.

Current Mood: irritated
Monday, January 31st, 2005
5:06 pm
A new year, a new blog
I'm excited that I finally started a blog to discuss my first book but, of course, I have no idea what to say now. Twelve years as a writer doesn't help with that, I guess.

Perhaps about the process. My main goal is to use video games as a tool to understand the changes America has gone through as a culture, particularly sexually, over the past 25 years. For instance, it is no coincidence that as Survivor, Big Brother and other reality shows became the water cooler topic, The Sims was becoming one of the most popular games in our short history. It's easy to dismiss pop culture and mainstream ideas, to subscribe to the "all TV is crap" philosophy, but even the most crass artistic medium represents our collective conscious.

So my goal is to understand the flavor of the time by watching movies, reading books, interviewing people and, of course, playing games that best reflect the twelve featured games. In short, I've become a media whore. For your benefit, of course.

All in all, it's been about 36 books, most cover to cover, on sex, video games and pop culture, and I expect to read at least another 50 or so before I'm through. Though it hasn't been the cheapest endevour, it has been by far the most fun I've had in my journalism career (next to interviewing Shigeru Miyamoto. Hai!). Getting (eventually) paid to understand Japanese porn, read Chuck Klosterman's essays on The Sims, and to play Leisure Suit Larry hours on end is a fucking blessing.

I just hope the book reflects my nebulous mass of pop culture knowledge.

And there's the rub. One book - no book, I dare say - can capture all that the author has learned. Perhaps that's why I created this blog, as even with the hundreds of pages I am writing (only 60,000 words to go!), I might not be able to fit in games like Frisky Tom or Strip Fighter.

So here, I hope to:
*Give a little insight into the process of writing a book, which, no matter how much passion you have, should be taken as a business
*Discuss and share oddities I find on this adventure
*Keep you posted on how things are progressing on the book itself
*Tell you where my fabolous book release parties will be (the most fun part, I'm thinking)

Also, if you're interested in getting an email update about once every two months instead, just visit the book website and enter in your email.
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