Gamers can read. Not just sentences from the screen but actual, tangible books. Yes, gaming literature does exist which you can shove in the face of your literature teacher! In an attempt to bring such books to light, I’ll be doing some reviews in this new column so you too can put down the controller and turn to books like your Mum told you to. About the book This issue of Gamers Can Read is about Metal Gear Solid by Ashly and Anthony Burch. The book is part of the Boss Fight Books series which is a collection of books on classic video games. Each book focuses on a single game where the author(s) give a critical and personal look at the game. The series was successfully funded on Kickstarter and they’re currently on their season 2, with more books coming this winter. What if one of your favourite video games, your memories of it, your emotional attachment and everything you found awesome in it, were actually not all so great? That’s what the siblings Ashly and Anthony Burch write about in their book about Metal Gear Solid on the Playstation 1. Way before hosting their Youtube channel Hey Ash Whatcha Playing, before Anthony became the lead writer for Borderlands 2 and before Ashly became a voice actor, the Burch siblings were kids who loved to play MGS on their Playstation. Now older (and wiser?) they re-explore the game. The book is presented in an interesting way. Each chapter covers a feature of the game on which both Ashly and Anthony share their personal views in a back and forth conversational way, with regular footnotes to lighten the mood. The approachable language used makes the reading feel like you are having a conversation with friends, each sharing their point of view even though everyone doesn’t necessarily share the same opinion. They share their initial experience with the game in a way most of us could relate, how they (like me) discovered the game first though a demo disc and went on to buy the full game and beat it. The beginning might give you the impression of the run-of-the-mill nostalgic trip of 2 siblings who wished they could go back in time to relieve those moments spent playing that game. But they stop you right in those tracks. And they sure do. They give a radical view on MGS. They dissect it, in ways you probably haven’t thought of. They cover the game, its characters, its mechanics and setting from top to bottom. They point out to the incongruences in Snake’s character, his feelings and how he can be a negative, misogynist influence. They also make a strong point on the limited use of the great yet poorly exploited feature of using your footprints to lure enemies. But the book isn’t only about pointing out all the negative aspects of the game. The authors give due credit to the innovative way the game breaks the fourth wall. They talk about the various options available to beat Vulcan Raven, allowing free use of your imagination as to how to apply your arsenal for that purpose. The book also covers the various military-related themes of the game. How soldiers are used as tools, and regarded as tools by those pulling the strings. And also accurately depicts the varying reasons people join the military. If you are a fan of MGS and hold dear memories to the game, be ready for a read that will get on your nerves. You might think that the authors seem to complain about irrelevant points. Or that they seem to take for granted what they cherished as kids and want more out of a game nearly 2 decades old. But keep in mind that the book was written by people who love the game just like you do. It even influenced their career choices! They point out to features that you might have overlooked or dismissed as unimportant but which actually matter. As Ashly concludes: The book’s an eye-opener, it’s thought-provoking and gives an in-depth analysis and one totally different from conventional critics on Metal Gear Solid. Read it if you’re an MGS fan. Read it if you want a different view on a game that defined a generation. Read it to make you re-think how you view MGS. Read it.