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Book Review: Confessions of the Game Doctor by Bill Kunkel

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Who the hell is Bill Kunkel AKA “The Game Doctor?” Don’t be ashamed if you don’t know, a few of my colleagues didn’t know either! Kunkel along with Arnie Katz started videogame journalism. I know what you’re thinking, “thanks for starting all the BS we get to read that passes for game journalism today, now I know who to come after.” Don’t go after him! He’s one of the good ones. Don’t believe me? Read this book.

Confessions of the Game Doctor is basically Kunkel’s memoirs. It focuses on the most interesting and exciting times of his life, which are intertwined with the happenings of the game industry. Confessions is a chronicle of the impact Kunkel made on gaming and beyond. It’s filled with insightful observations that few possess. Don’t expect super sweet tales of the good old days though. He spares no one and tells it like it is with extreme hilarity. That’s part of his charm, unless he’s writing about you!

He takes us through the origins and struggles of birthing game journalism with the very first game magazine that he co-founded: Electronic Games (EG). Kunkel takes us through the height of EG’s success in the golden age all the way to the game market crash in the early 80’s that sadly took EG with it. Then he leads us beyond the crash, through the 90’s, and all the way up to today. Kunkel does so with style, grace, and most importantly, complete credibility.

As soon as I opened Confessions, I flipped to page 51, which is the start of the most entertaining chapter, “Sex, Drugs, and Coin-Ops.” It has all the essential ingredients that make up a great chapter! Unprotected intercourse on coke in the boss’s office…check. Sex with escorts AKA prostitutes during business trips…check. Pot smoking…check. Freebase parties…check. A concluding tale of self control…check. It’s amazing Kunkel is still alive after all that extended mileage. We are not only treated to sterling examples of Kunkel’s excess, but how crazy the industry was as well.

Kunkel is a pioneer, a living legend. He not only was instrumental in creating game journalism, his work helped grow the industry. Confessions reminds us that we need him back badly. We need a leader to take gaming journalism to a new, respectful level. Without someone like Kunkel to raise game journalism up, it will forever stay in the pit of garbage those that came after him created.

He’s been everywhere, seen everything, is a success — he’s like the Forrest Gump of gaming, except he’s way smarter and cooler than Forrest and his wife didn’t die of some horribly disabling disease. Confessions of the Game Doctor is a compelling read whether you’re a gamer or not. You must read this book, you must buy this book! You can get it direct at Rolenta Press.

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About Rob Faraldi

  • Rob F

    What a great review!

  • Vince Desi

    most excellent, honet reporting…what a concept

    i hope he writes a part 2!

    thanks for caring about an industry i love

  • Rob F

    @ Vince

    You don’t happen to be Vince Desi of Running With Scissors fame are you? If so that’s awesome!

    Send me some games for review! Check out my interview with Bill in the gaming section.