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 so far. 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."
Now next in line for reading is Burger's new book, Elämäpeli: pelintekijän maailmat (roughly "Life-game: the Worlds of a Game Designer"), which I eagerly await. The descriptions I've seen hint at it containing all that for the lack of which I bashed his earlier book on game design, i.e. the creative-process parts. It's a bit expensive, but I hope to buy it anyway at Finncon.