I had the pleasure of pre-reading this book in draft before it came out. Seeing its final version, I was nevertheless amazed. The primary authors, along with the 15 other contributors, have created by far the best published work on pervasive games. It draws the material from around the world, ranging from global ARGs to reality TV and small Nordic larps, as well as studies conducted on those and more. Furthermore, it creates a seamless merger of it all, being able to confidently discuss pervasive games as a phenomenon, not a bunch of events organized by isolated cliques. It is holistic, yet attentive to minute detail.
The topics range from history to the ethics of involving unaware people in play. Nearly half of the book is nevertheless dedicated to design concerns, making it an invaluable tool to anyone developing or researching pervasive games (or ARGs, or larps, for that matter). As this is done in the context of examples – some of them successes, others clear failures – it is easy to pick useful ideas from those presented. I would have liked a few more case examples on some topics, such as the problem of people entering and leaving such games mid-way, but I presume this was simply not feasible due to a page limit. And I can but applaud the authors’ decision not to do everything by themselves, meaning that some case examples and sections on things like marketing and art-games are written by experts in those particular subjects.
This book is something one may agree or disagree with, but never ignore, if one works in the field of pervasive games in any fashion. Both the designer and the game studies professional in me find it immensely valuable. It is also a damn enjoyable read.
He calls the book “the definitive work on pervasive games”, and tops it off with 5/5 stars.
For full disclosure, it should be noted that J. Tuomas is not exactly a stranger to us — we have been sparring with him earlier, and he commented a draft manuscript in some phase. He clarifies his position a little in his blog.
Please, let us know if you notice any reviews we are unaware of; we intend to blog them all, regardless of how they find the book. Also, if you would like to receive a press copy, let us know and we’ll forward your request to the publisher.