Pilgrim in the Microworld, David Sudnow's "pilgrimage to the land of video games" as the New York Times described it in 1983 when the book first released with its ominous eye firing beams of green light (or breakout balls), is available for download as a free PDF through the late author's store.

A trained ethnographer and social psychologist, Sudnow also wrote Ways of the Hand, which chronicles how he learned to improvise jazz on the piano, and Passing on: The Social Organization of Dying.

Pilgrim in the Microworld follows his introduction to Missile Command after watching his son defend its cities from falling ballistic missiles, to his obsession with Breakout that leads him to analyze its mechanics, seek game-playing tips from Atari programmers, and question the "philosophical and social issues raised by video games".

You can read an excerpt from Pilgrim in the Microworld, posted by superannuation, below:

"They were all out of Missile Command, damn it. I’d woken up in the morning with the silhouette of that psychedelectric landscape still etched on my retina. Wouldn’t it be neat if a “city in memory” came up looking a little different, more imperfect than the original, say, with just the essence suggested? That would at least make it appear computers remember sights as we do, rather than as just series of numerical values for each grid point on the screen. Remembering the looks of things, we forget aspects of them in ways we can’t predict in advance, which is to say images live a history within our lives. Computers don’t have that kind of memory. How could they?

Herb had another game called Breakout, which I’d glimpsed some guests play during timeouts from the favored bouts at nuclear defense. Was there a truly worthy video opponent - a Don Juan of Silicon Valley? Who knew, but the salesman said this Breakout thing was a real good game, the TV was sitting in the backseat of the car, and rather than drive around all day looking for missiles, I figured I’d take this one home for starters. How was I to know it would become “my game,” that I’d get so obsessed with it as to live out the next three months of my life almost exclusively within this nineteen-inch microworld, heaven help me."