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Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008 Review

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Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008 Review
Guinness
The Guinness Book of World Records has been settling bar bets and encouraging regular Joes to rise up and do something noteworthy for decades now. Recently, Guinness has published the Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition 2008 to give videogames and the people that play them their own spotlight. For hardcore gamers, there isn’t much substance here. But for casual gamers, parents of gamers, or kids, it is worth checking out.
Quick Hits

  • Title: Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition: 2008
  • Publisher: Guinness World Records Ltd.
  • Pros: Lots of pictures and artwork; some interesting records; good for non-hardcore gamers
  • Cons: Flawed concept; tons of “fluff” content; not all that many records; we’ve seen a lot of this better presented elsewhere

What It Is

Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition: 2008 isn’t really what you might be expecting. It starts off with a month-by-month recap of videogames in 2007. Follows it up with the Top 20 games of 2007 (although it never mentions whether it is based on sales or scores or their own picks). And transitions right into a history of videogames. That is all fine and good, except for the fact that all of this information has been presented far better elsewhere. We don’t really need vague yearly wrap-ups. Or videogame industry history lessons that most gamers already have burned into their brains. There is just a ton of “fluff” content here -Stuff that is mildly interesting that you probably already know, but it all comes across as filler.

The rest of the book is split up by genre and high profile games in each genre get their own pages. This is where the book becomes much more interesting. There are fastest completion times for games, high score lists, and little tidbits of information about each game. Some of the “records” listed here are pretty stupid and are too subjective to really be considered records, such as “Worst Game Dialogue Ever” going to the original Resident Evil or “Most Popular (tournament level fighting game) Character” going to Tekken’s Jin Kazama. There is still some interesting real trivia in between all of the fluff, but a lot of it is just stupid.

Issues

Beyond all of that, however, I think this book is just conceptually flawed. Most of the “records” are either subjective fluff like I mentioned above or pointless things like “The First Castlevania in 3D” (Castlevania, N64), “First Fighting Game To Trigger The Set-Up of a Software Ratings Board” (Mortal Kombat), or “First Triple Tag Team” (Marvel vs. Capcom 2). These “firsts” are completely moronic and probably didn’t need to be included. I always thought records were supposed to be about empowering the people, not just reading the bullet points on the back of a game box.

Secondly, real records like scoring the most points in a game or beating a game the fastest all have a cap on them. They are limited by the design of the games. You can only play so fast. You can only score so many points. You can only kill so many enemies. The real Guinness World Records book is interesting because there will always be someone that can eat more bananas in two minutes or grind a rail the longest on a skateboard (yeah, I watch Rob & Big, sue me …) than the previous record. But videogames will always have a cap. And once that cap is reached it is impossible to set a new record. So what is the point of this book exactly?

My third complaint is that we already have a great videogame record keeping organization in Twin Galaxies. It must be noted that Twin Galaxies is a partner in this book and helped put it together, but why would you spend the $20 MSRP to get only a tiny selection of real videogame records when you can go to the Twin Galaxies website and get it all for free?

Bottom Line

All in all, The Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition 2008 is a sort of cool idea that fails in the execution. It just plain and simply isn’t all that interesting. There are interviews and articles and little trivial tidbits about some of our favorite games, but there just isn’t much substance to it.

With that said, I do freely concede that I am probably just not the target audience. If you are a hardcore gamer that reads blogs and news sites every day, you can skip this book. You would think that a book about gaming records would be all about the hardcore crowd, but it really isn’t.

On the other hand, if you are a casual gamer that doesn’t know a ton about the videogame industry already, or you are a parent of a gamer that wants to know what your kids are up to, or you are a kid under the age of 13 or so, I do highly recommend this book. If you fall into any of these categories, the Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition 2008 is an okay resource that is a good starting place on your way to learning more about videogames.

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