The book is an entertaining enough read, but I am not entirely convinced as to the authors' characterization of the problem and their recommended solution. I do however think they are on to something with their idea that pornography and video games can be regarded by some as preferable to real experiences with real people. I think they have identified a real phenomena. I take issue though with the notion that it is pornography and video games, per se, that are the only things at issue. My own sense is that their gripe is similar to Nicholas Carr's observations in his book, The Shallows, in that people when presented with too much digital titillation and distraction are intellectually and emotionally blunted (a valid observation, I would say). My suspicion then is that video games and pornography are simply two examples of the titillation and distraction endemic to digital culture identified by Carr (i.e., others include social media, partisan news, cat falling off the table videos, etc). Zumbardo and Duncan's thesis, by focusing their criticism too narrowly miss an opportunity to slay a larger dragon.
One other criticism. The introductory pages with the data from the TED survey was less than useless. Beyond the fact that the selection bias when sampling from TED survey respondents would make the results almost idiosynchratic, the questions asked of the respondents were just silly. Why do I care what a TED user's beliefs are about why such and such phenomena is happening? Am I to assume the average TED user is a trained sociologist and her or his insights have some sort of added heft? If they were asked to what extent they themselves played games, viewed porn, etc., that would be different. But their opinion on the causes of these things provides so little to the substantive arguments presented later in the book, I'm baffled at their inclusion at all, let alone their being chosen to lead the book. Honestly, it was enough that if there were even a single page more of it, I would have been too annoyed to have bothered reading the rest of the book.
Nonetheless, I found their book an interesting and speedy read. Critics who disparage it because it "doesn't get" games or gamers clearly didn't read the book. It is obvious the authors understand that not all game experiences are created equal and that games are a perfectly valid form of entertainment and artistic expression. They simply point out how games and pornography, when overused, can keep us in the shallows of not only our intellects but of human experience. That's not such a bad message.