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What I read last summer

By on September 21, 2016

My reading list has been delayed by a chaotic summer. A lot of holidays, which was good, but also a surge of 18" of sewage that flooded through my kitchen on the morning of Brexit day, leading me to move out into temporary accommodation which lots of people think is nice, but is nowhere near as nice as having your own home not flooded with sewage. I’m sure there is a metaphor in there somewhere.

So the reading list is late, and hence longer than usual. At the top, I’m going to put Keith Stuart’s A Boy Made of Blocks. Because it’s really good.


A Boy Made of Blocks, by Guardian writer Keith Stuart, is a story about Alex, a man struggling with the important relationships in his life, most significantly with his 8 year old son, Sam, who is autistic. They connect eventually through the medium of Minecraft, and along the way, Alex learns to put his own struggles into perspective, and to understand Sam in a new way. It’s a marvellous read, and feels like a new, updated version of a Nick Hornby novel. You should read it.

Soccernomics, by  Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. A birthday gift to me in an attempt to make me enjoy watching football by introducing me to the economic and analytical background to the beautiful game. It is described as Freakonomics of football, or perhaps the Moneyball of soccer. It has two authors: an economist and a journalist. I’m pretty sure I could tell who was writing which section. I enjoyed the economics bits, but the journalist sections were full of platitudes and wild generalisations. “Everyone loves the World Cup”. Well I don’t, and the bits which were all fanboy were off-putting. Still, the book argues that England should never win the World Cup, and we should just be grateful if we ever get to the quarter-finals. I’m sure that will be useful in the pub.

Revolt on the Right, by Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin. Published in 2014, this book forecasts the rise of UKIP, the very real risk of Brexit and the lack of a political party that appeals to voters who feel left out of the benefits of globalisation and disenfranchised by three mainstream political parties in the UK who have all concluded that elections are won by appealing to the centrist voter. It is worth reading, if only to spark a conversation about what to do about it.



Game design



  • Dylan Collins of kids marketing business SuperAwesome on the dangers of data with the U13 market: Coppa and GDPR (the EU equivalent) “essentially make it illegal to collect data of almost any form (including cookies) from under-13s without express parental consent.” Does this issue finally make people taking tracking unnecessarily via cookies seriously?
  • Buzzfeed’s analysis about why Apple killed a 150 year old technology. Answer: to save space, and so your iPhone will survive if you drop it in the loo.
  • Details of the Fiksu acquisitionFiksu acquisition, which suggests that it was sold by its bank due to breaching its debt covenants. Also focuses on how the User Acquisition is brutal, and still uses incentivized ad networks.
  • Ben Edery’s analysis of the acquisition of the Dollar Shave Club, and what it means when for major industries when a small startup can disrupt them at tiny cost.
  • The Financial Times’ analysis of “a strong contender for the weirdest deal of 2016a strong contender for the weirdest deal of 2016”, the acquistion of FPS-developer Splash Damage by Chinese poultry farmer Lelou.



Phew, what a lot to read. That is three month’s worth. Normal service will resume shortly.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: