BOOKS: ALL WIRED UP

ARE VIDEO GAMES MORE THAN A BLIP IN HISTORY?

Electronic games like Pac-Man, Tetris, Doom and Myst are the totems of a generation and have etched an indelible imprint on the American psyche. Or so J.C. Herz, the 25-year-old author of Joystick Nation (Little, Brown; 230 pages; $23.95), would have her readers believe. For as Herz sees it, video games aren't just kid stuff; they are "theme parks of the mind" that reflect the fears, fantasies and desires lurking in every human soul.

In her witty manifesto, Herz correlates each major genre of electronic game with an age-old impulse: shoot-'em-ups like Doom tap the primal instinct for survival, while puzzle...

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