Fun Inc

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 February, 2011, 12:00am

Fun Inc
by Tom Chatfield
Virgin Books HK$136

Even if you are an avid video-game naysayer, you might enjoy Fun Inc. Tom Chatfield (who plays World of Warcraft with his wife) shows why the mega industry, which he characterises as a 'licence to print money', is so important and details its impact not just economically but also culturally, socially and technologically. While most global media are contracting, he points out, the popularity of video games continues to skyrocket, with profits jumping from US$20 billion at the start of the 21st century to US$40 million by the end of 2008. Readers will be familiar with some of the criticisms lobbed at video games, which worrywarts believe sap the mental and physical health of those who spend thousands of hours playing them. Then there's the violence aspect, a debate that will probably never be resolved as long as nutters are given access to firearms. Most interesting is the section on 'gold farming', which refers to players who devote their waking hours to gaming in order to earn virtual currency that they then sell to real people for real money. Equally fascinating is the study of infectious-disease dissemination by using virtual environments.