Critique (Rhetorical Analysis) Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Literature, Video Games, Video, Virtual Reality, Game, Books, Time, Experience

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/01/01

In his book Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter Tom Bissell, who teaches Portland State University and is known for his love of video games, tries to find an answer to the question why are video games so important for people. Using his life experience the author tries to find an answer why people spend hundreds of hours playing video games. He tries to look at this question from different perspectives, discussing the pros and cons of different video games such as Oblivion and Fallout 3. Moreover, the author expressed his opinion how video games differ from all the other forms of entertainment such as books or films. But the main focus of the book was put on finding the answer why despite many drawbacks video games makes gamers get completely lost in them. The author of the book tried to explain the readers why it is possible to get completely involved in the world of video games and forget about everything else in the world.
First of all it should be noted that the book has a remarkable number of rhetorical features with the help of which the author tried to convince his readers that video games are appealing and they do matter. Some of his evidences sound strong, others lack argumentation. Thus, speaking about the advantages and disadvantages of Fallout 3 game, the author started the chapter with his own personal experience of playing the game. Thus, Bissell claimed that he waited for the release of the game with a great passion. He bought the game the day when 2008 presidential elections were held. The author promised himself that he won’t spend more than two hours playing the game so that he would be able to watch the elections. However, it didn’t happen as the author states: “Seven hours later, blinking and dazed, I turned off my Xbox 360, checked in with CNN, and discovered that the acceptance speech had already been given” (Bissell, 351). At this event, using his own personal anecdote the author tries to say that it is even possible to miss such a great event as the elections of the first black president in the United States while a playing video game. This evidence, used by Bissell sounds rather strong but at the same time it may be viewed as logical fallacy. The argument provided by the author is not reasoning as it is based on isolated example, on his personal experience. In other words, if Bissell missed presidential elections being completely involved in Fallout 3, it does not mean that the same situation may happen with other people. The mistake made by the author lies in generalization of his life experience as he cannot know what other people did during the elections. Moreover, the author also claims that he spent 200 hours playing Oblivion. Stating this, Bissell asks places questions, such as “Two hundreds playing Oblivion? How is that even possible?” (Bissell, 352). Again, from his own experience the author states that half of the time he spent completing the game’s missions and other half investigating the game’s world. It is clear that Bissell judges only from his own point of view that is why his evidence shouldn’t be viewed as credible.
Second, it should be mentioned that in his book the author used emotionally-loaded terms which attempt to influence the audience and to persuade them to believe in his arguments and evidences. Among loaded words and word expressions used by the author it is possible to name the following: guaranteed, impressive, awesome, cheerful parasitism, enchanted, sensation, fascinating, attractive feature, best part and others. All these words sound persuasive and in such a way may be called loaded terms. It is true that the usage of these terms helps to increase the influence of the author’s words. For example, if the author claims that “games tend to become leisure-time-eating viruses” (Bissell, 351), the common reader would believe that it is possible to spend 200 hours playing these games. Or, when Bissell says that the world of video games is as gripping as any kind of fiction he came across, the readers start to believe that video games are appealing and happen to be the best kind of entertainment. Therefore, it is clear that the usage of emotionally loaded terms makes the evidences provided by the author sound persuasive. These terms may be considered a great persuasive technic as they appeal to emotion. That is precisely why some of the author’s arguments sound particularly strong for the readers and make them agree with his ideas. But at the same time it is important to say that if the words are persuasive it does not necessarily mean that they are reasonable. In fact, some authors do not recommend using emotionally loaded terms when dealing with argumentation. Thus, one of the main goals of argumentation is its impartiality. That is why it is possible to say that a wide usage of loaded terms may definitely affect the readers and make them believe in author’s words but at the same time it is important to remember that emotions are not the same as pure facts.
Third, a lot of information may be taken from the tone, diction and evidence of the text provided by the author. It is obvious that the targeted auditory of the book are gamers, the lovers of Xbox who could spent all their free time playing it. Thus, the book is written rather in an informal style and easy manner. The tone of the book is rather casual and the language used by the author is easy and at times even familiar. For instance, the book has a great number of swear words such as “fuck” or “fetish-porn avidity”. The usage of these expressions signals that the book was written not for academic people but for the same kind people as the author is: for the fans of video games. It seems that Bissell writes in their common language and compares notes about different video games with other gamers. Thus, he shares his personal experience how he started to play the Fallout 3 game. Then he moves forwards naming some drawbacks of the game. For example, he states that Fallout 3 has some problems with its tutorial which is bizarre and rather complicated. In order to prove his idea, Bissell provides the following example: “Imagine that, every time you open a novel, you are forced to suffer through a chapter in which the characters do nothing but talk to one another about the physical mechanics of how one goes about reading a book” (Bissell, 356). Again, this example may be viewed as a proof that the book is written for specialized auditory – for those who understand how video games tutorials and menus should look like and how they should work. The author continues and thoroughly describes the way the game starts, provides a detailed description of its setting and dialogues. Moreover, the author compares video games to other forms of entertainments such as fiction and films. For instance, Bissell states that films usually show a compact type of story and there is always a person who can decide where to point the camera. Games, on the contrary, “contain more than most gamers can ever hope to see, and the person deciding where to point the camera is, in many cases, you” (Bissell, 359-360). Again, this phrase shows that the book mainly calls the attention of video gamers and the usage of such pronouns as “you” instead of the third person makes the tone of the book sound casual and informal. Finally, describing pros and cons of Fallout 3 game, Bissell came to the conclusion that the game is rather appealing, calling it “a game of profound stylishness, sophistication, and intelligence” (Bissell, 361). Therefore, it is possible to say that the author found the game Fallout 3 appealing and worth playing and at this event tried to convince other video gamers play it.

Works cited

Bissell, Tom. Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.

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