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Push Play: Gaming for a Better World – Book Review


Push Play book cover
Push Play: Gaming for a Better World

Push Play: Gaming for a Better World is a non-fiction book published by Forbes Books and written by Dr. Songyee Yoon. As the Chief Strategy Officer and President of NCSoft, a leading video game company, Dr. Yoon is baffled at the negative connotations of playing games. To dispel false narratives such as it being a waste of time and causing a lack of motivation, she explores the benefits of gaming and attempts to convey how the industry is pushing technology forward for the betterment of the world. 

In order to do so, Dr. Yoon approaches the subject matter from various angles, including the art of ‘play’ in its most basic form. Whether human or animal, engaging in playful acts helps them to understand their role within an environment and prepare them for later life. It’s immediately eye-opening that something as simple as a game of tag could test evasive skills in the animal kingdom, while kids dressing up can assist in acquiring social skills. If these rudimentary games are effective, then it’s only natural that video games could also prove to be useful tools.

Even if you only focus on NCSoft’s impact, there are clearly ways in which gaming is beneficial. Harking back to the Hodoo English mobile game they co-developed, it provides a platform to learn English through an MMORPG. For anyone who wants or needs to study English, but cannot afford to do so, it’s a real opportunity that levels the playing field. On a wider scale, the goings on in the realms of Lineage II sparked a revolution and inspired a large community to come together to solve an issue against all odds. Pooling their ideas and strength, they figured out a way to achieve their goal. 

Perhaps the most surprising and inspiring parts of the book are centred around Dr. Yoon, who’s had a remarkable career to-date. Growing up, entrenched in Korean culture, there was a high probability that her destiny consisted of getting married and starting a family. However, an encouraging family, an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and a desire to break free from shackling stereotypes, ensured a trajectory to the top. Reading about her early life and the first video game that captured her attention is not only interesting, but adds a welcome personal touch to proceedings.

There are many points covered in regards to the technological advancement in correlation with the growth of the gaming industry, as well as the potential usage of tech to solve problems. Furthermore, it’s utterly fascinating to discover that a whole host of gamers are aiding scientific research by participating in citizen science games. Take Eyewire for example, where the aim is to map retinal neurons and advance the use of artificial intelligence in this field. 

Despite the positive outlook, Dr. Yoon doesn’t ignore the negative sides of the industry. Not simply alluding to the dangers of excessive gaming, she explains the drawbacks for having a lack of diversity. From the creative and development point-of-view, to the end-user, there are compelling arguments throughout to help understand the importance of diversity.

In terms of readability, Push Play ticks a fair few boxes, starting with its length at just 118 pages. Split into nine chapters, each chapter also features subheadings, which makes it easier to dip in and out of the book as you wish. Additionally, a wide range of citations are also in place for particular references made by Dr. Yoon, enabling you the chance to explore certain aspects further in your own time. Be aware though, there are moments where the writing becomes complex and a tad difficult to understand due to the use of advanced terminology, but that means there’s a chance for the average reader to learn new things too.

Ultimately, I believe Dr. Songyee Yoon accomplishes what she set out to do in Push Play: Gaming for a Better World. It uses an excellent mixture of relatable topics, personal anecdotes, and research-driven statements, to showcase the overwhelming potential benefits of gaming and technological advancements. By offering this diversifying approach to the subject, the book can capture the attention and broaden the minds of a wide audience. 

From the perspective as a long-time gamer, Push Play: Gaming for a Better World is enlightening as to the impact playing games can have in many aspects and it has specifically made me realise the importance of gaming in regards to my own mental growth. I urge you to give it a read, for it will likely leave a lasting impression on you too.

Huge thanks go out to NCSoft and Forbes Books for a copy of Push Play: Gaming for a Better World for review. Pick up a copy for yourself from the likes of Amazon – there are Audiobook, Kindle and Hardcover versions.

James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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