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Critical Hits

Critical Hits

Writers on Gaming and the Alternate Worlds We Inhabit
Carmen Maria Machado
Publication Date

Brief description

An anthology of essays on video games by some of today's best literary writers

Full description

Whether you're an avid gamer, a Twitch subscriber, or just an incidental Subway Surfer, video games have changed the way you interact with the world, and have been part of our lives for over fifty years. Critical Hits is a celebration of play and playfulness, and the lasting impact of videogames.

Composed of sharp, impassioned, and inquisitive essays, this collection begins with an introduction by Carmen Maria Machado and presents video games through the eyes of eighteen writer-gamers as they straddle real and artificial worlds. In games, they find solace from illness and grief, test ideas about language, bodies, race, and technology, and see their experiences and identities reflected in-or complicated by-the interactive virtual realities they inhabit.

From a deep dive into "portal fantasy" games by Charlie Jane Anders and a comic by MariNaomi about her time as a video game producer, to the overlaps in gaming and poetry by Stephen Sexton, Critical Hits illuminates fragments of an industry that is wildly popular, grossly misunderstood, and absolutely spellbinding.


'A loot drop of brilliance' Naomi Alderman, author of The Power

'In this variety pack of exciting essays, writers make an electric case for the essentiality of video games, both as storytelling aids and as ways of understanding the world ... Critical Hits marks the welcome ascendance of an emerging body of gamer literature' Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire, "Best Books of Fall 2023"

'Alexander Chee, Charlie Jane Anders, Hanif Abdurraqib, and other writers who love gaming wax poetic about the lasting emotional impact that comes with playing some of the most popular video games on the market: The Last of Us, Call of Duty, and Disco Elysium'
Time Magazine, "Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2023"

Author biography

J. Robert Lennon is the author of nine novels and three story collections, including Familiar, Mailman, and Broken River.

Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the memoir In the Dream House and the story collection Her Body and Other Parties.