I think that if you have any interest in video games, it’s worth reading Press Reset. That shouldn’t be confused with implying that the book is fun read, or a good time, because it isn’t. This is a book primarily about what happens when you work in a industry where you can lose your job in a instant, because of decisions that you didn’t even make, even when everything goes well.
Okay, so with that cheerful introduction out of the way, lets talk about the book itself. Overall, it’s morbidly fascinating. Jason Schreier is the person I trust when it comes to talking about the video game industry and things related to video games. And while there wasn’t anything in the book itself that I found shocking or surprising, it does an excellent job of collecting a variety of stories from individuals at different levels of the process.
This brings up one of my two gripes with the structure of the book. After a little while, the chapters become somewhat formulaic: we get introduced to a brand new game company, learn about their history, meet a few employees, and then boom, it closes down. Sometimes it’s because of financial mismanagement. Sometimes it’s because games didn’t meet sales figures. And sometimes it’s because publishers aren’t interested in maintaining a studio with a key figure. The end result is like reading a series of murder mysteries where the only elements that changes is the murder weapon.
In terms of value to the reader, I think the book will be the most impactful to folks like myself who care a lot about games, but also who (perhaps fortunately) aren’t in the industry. At times, I find some of the explanation of common games and concepts to be a bit heavy handed (I know what Diablo is and what Microtransactions are Jason), if necessary, because not everyone who reads the book is going to be a game nut like myself.
My second minor gripe has to do with the ending structure of the book. The book ends with a light touch look at what might need to happen next to turn the game industry into a bit less of a meat grinder. Schreier does a good job discussing unionization, smaller scale contracting, remote work, and a variety of other possibilities, but doesn’t really take a stand on any of them. And that’s understandable. Schreier is a journalist, not a pundit.
Press Reset is $15.49 on Amazon. It’s also on Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, and free for the first person to come to my apartment and ask to borrow my copy.