“You have been awakened.”
Floppy disk inserted, computer turned on, a whirring, and then this sentence followed by a blinking cursor. So begins Suspended, the first computer game to obsess seven-year-old Michael, to worm into his head and change his sense of reality. Thirty years later he will write: “Computer games have taught me the things you can’t learn from people.”
Michael Clune’s Gamelife is a sui generis memoir. It captures the essential strangeness of childhood, when the world is still revealing itself. It describes cafeteria politics, locker-room hazing, and divorce with a sharpness that will leave you laughing and squirming. It re-creates a place—1980s suburban Illinois, John Hughes movie territory—in all its quotidian glory. And it explores, like nothing before it, how the ephemeral worlds of video games gave shape to a boy’s days.