When Pete Etchells was 14, his father died from motor neurone disease. In order to cope, he immersed himself in a virtual world - first as an escape, but later to try to understand what had happened. Etchells is now a researcher into the psychological effects of video games, and was co-author on a recent paper explaining why WHO plans to classify ‘game addiction’ as a danger to public health are based on bad science and (he thinks) are a bad idea.
In this, his first book, he journeys through the history and development of video games - from Turing’s chess machine to mass multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft- via scientific study, to investigate the highs and lows of playing and get to the bottom of our relationship with games - why we do it, and what they really mean to us.
In conversation with geneticist, author, and broadcaster Adam Rutherford.