cover image Control Freak: My Epic Adventure Making Video Games

Control Freak: My Epic Adventure Making Video Games

Cliff Bleszinski. Simon & Schuster, $28.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982149-14-7

“Video game development... always will be like real life—less about perfection and more about fixing your mistakes,” asserts video game designer Bleszinski in his entertaining and candid debut. Not “cool enough for the cool kids and not nerdy enough for the nerds,” Bleszinski became fascinated with video games during his 1980s adolescence, a passion that paid off when, at age 16, he created and sold his first game, The Palace of Deceit. A year later, his gift for combining imagination and intriguing gameplay landed him at Epic Games, where he worked for 20 years. During that tenure, Bleszinski’s creations included the mega-profitable Unreal and Gears of War series. His account gets into the specifics of his design career, sharing glitches—as when the multiplayer version of Unreal failed when the game launched in 1998—and detailed discussions of plot developments. Along the way, Bleszinski shares anecdotes that are by turns humorous and heinous, from his father’s discovery of his porn stash during high school to a damning recollection of kicking his first wife out of their home while she was still on crutches from surgery (a memory that leads him to admit he was “a callous, uncaring, selfish piece of shit”). Devoted gamers curious to know how the sausage gets made will find this warts-and-all tale fascinating. (Nov.)