[GameSetWatch contributor Alex Litel got a chance to ask McSweeney's Internet Tendency editor Christopher Monks about his new book The Ultimate Game Guide to Your Life, a literary rara avis that is not only brilliant satire but won't make gamers wince with the representation of the medium.]

From jPod to Kilobyte, mediumistic incompetence or a clumsy portrayal usually condemns books about games to the oubliette of literature; their mere utterance carries a universal stigma.

Writing a quality work of satire may even be harder than writing a quality book about games, but McSweeney’s Internet Tendency editor Christopher Monks has done both with The Ultimate Game Guide to Your Life.

Written in the style of a strategy guide, the book guides players through the epic journey of Your Life; in other words, a contemporaneous realization of that ambitious game Peter Molyneux is always talking about (but ends up becoming an entry in the Fable franchise).

A book extract over at McSweeney's includes 'A FEW MINI-GAMES FROM LEVEL III: "Your Adolescence."', for example 'Notice My Mustache'. As explained: "This mini-game is something of a double-edged sword, or, better put, a double-edged razor. Should you choose to let that peach fuzz above your lips accumulate, you'll earn a Life Point every time somebody other than your parents notices or comments on your mustache. However, after a game-year or so has passed and you see a photograph or home video of yourself with the mustache, you'll be mortified and lose a Life Point."

GameSetWatch spoke to Monks via email about his book, games, and humor.

How did the idea for the book come about?

When I became a stay-home-dad I spent what down time I had writing and playing video games, not necessarily in that order. While playing Halo and Super Mario Brothers and the like, I began to see the same strategies I employed in those games as useful in my everyday life, particularly with regards to parenting.

I discovered that if I performed certain tasks in a particular order, while paying attention to specific details, I would reap maximum results. I also learned quickly that if I forgot a step, or performed a step out of order, disaster ensued. Daily tasks became like video game challenges: to reach the next “level” I had to achieve the objective without losing Mr. Teddy at the mall or without remembering, too late, my son’s strong reservations about clowns.

Looking back, much of my life has been about performing certain tasks in a particular order, while paying attention to specific details, in order to reap maximum results. The concept of my book grew out of that realization.

Is the book in any way autobiographical?

Not really. There are some sections that are based on times in my life, for instance the “Having a Baby” challenge, which is largely a direct reenactment of when my wife had our first child, but overall I’m relieved to say that most of it is made up.

How long did it take to write the book?

From the idea to the final draft, it took about ten months.

How does it feel conceiving the most amazing game ever?

I suppose had I invented Pong I would think the world of myself, but alas, I did not.

What would the Christopher Monks Game® be?

I can’t say for sure, but I’m fairly certain that it would involve hanging around your house in your pajamas playing Word Twist on Facebook for hours on end. Perhaps there would also be a boss level where you’d have to go to Stop & Shop, buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, and return home before “The Office” begins.

I am a presently playing Your Life® as a Wall Street executive that may or may have not gone on a hundred thousand vacation the week after my firm was taken over by the government, what are your tips for me?

I recommend you play the “You Need a Hug” mini-game a few dozen times. It’ll give you the Life Point boost you’ll need before you’re indicted on tax evasion and sent to prison for 3-5 game-years. There aren’t a lot of Life Point-making experiences in prison. And if hugging isn’t your thing, then I suggest triggering the Robot War Cheat. The robots will wind up zapping you, but at least you’ll go out with a little bit of honor restored.

Do you read any writing about games? Is there anyone or anyplace in particular that impresses you?

I read sites like Kotaku and GameSpot from time to time, largely for reviews, as I go out of the way to make sure I don’t buy a game that sucks. There’s nothing worse than that. It’s right up there with the flu and traffic jams. I also check out Play This Thing! every so often. I think the writing there is pretty sharp.

Most times when developers try to inject humor into games, it does not work to well. What advice would you have for someone trying to add compelling humor to a game?

The humor in many games is far too broad. Can we put a moratorium on fart jokes in video games for once and for all?

Thankfully, in more and more games you can tell there’s been an emphasis on good writing, like the Grand Theft Auto series for example.

For me, the most enjoyable games are not the ones with the best graphics, but the ones with the best stories.