These are some of the best books to read if you want to learn more about the past of video games.
Video games can now be played just about anywhere. But they still need some way to get power, whether it’s from a plug or batteries. The Game Gear used to go through 6 AA batteries in 4 hours, but later devices don’t last much longer before they need to be charged. While they’re charging, you might want to read a book.
The best books can make even the longest trips go by quickly. But even though there are a lot of famous books, how-to guides, nonfiction stories, and other ways to learn more about a hobby, what if someone wants to learn more about video games? Here are some good books about video games that could be the best.
Blood, Sweat And Pixels
With words from Jason Schreier, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made is pretty much what it sounds like. It talks about the history of how games have been made, from the big hits of the past to the small darlings of today.
The book talks about the tight deadlines, bugs, burnout, and other problems that almost stopped Dragon Age: Inquisition, Stardew Valley, Destiny, and other games from coming out and sending them into the vaporware ether. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels is the first book to read if you want to learn how to make games.
Game Over: Press Start To Continue
The original title of David Sheff’s book, which came out in 1993, was Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped a Generation, Captured Your Dollars, and Slaved Your Children. The book is a balanced look at how Nintendo went from being a card and toy company in the 1960s to the biggest video game company in the world in the 1990s.
Even though it doesn’t go into the 21st century, it gives a thorough look at Nintendo’s recent past, including interviews with Shigeru Miyamoto and Alexey Pajitnov, who created Tetris. Andy Eddy added new chapters to cover the years after the SNES for the 1999 re-release with the new subtitle. There were also new pictures and errors were fixed.
Service Games: The Rise And Fall Of Sega
But what if the reader wanted a machine that did things Nintendo couldn’t do? Sam Pettus’s book tells the story of Sega from its beginnings as Service Games in the 1950s to how it changed the video game industry in the 1990s and ended up as a software maker after the Dreamcast stopped working.
It’s more up-to-date because it came out in 2012. Also, it has a “Enhanced Edition” with extra material by David Muoz, Kevin Williams, and Ivan Barroso. Aside from fixing some mistakes, it has more pictures, facts, and information about how Sega had a better start in Europe than in America and Japan, where it had to work hard to get where it is now.
Most of the books here are nonfiction, like reports on investigations, rather than fiction like fantasy tales. That’s because popular books like Scott Pilgrim, Ready Player One, and Slay are more about games or game tropes than they are directly about games. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t space for a book or two.
Console Wars by Blake J. Harris tells the story of the Sega-Nintendo console wars from the point of view of Tom Kalinske, who was CEO of Sega of America at the time. It tells a story about his time at the company, like how Kalinske tried to sell Sonic the Hedgehog as a pack-in game for the Genesis instead of Altered Beast. The book is also being turned into a TV drama. Seth Rogen is the executive producer, and Jordan Vogt-Roberts is the director.
Masters Of Doom
Masters of Doom is a book about how two guys built an empire and changed pop culture.It sounds like David Kushner is making a lot of promises. But that’s exactly what happened when Johns Romero and Carmack met, started id Software, and made Doom. The book is written like a story, like Console Wars, but it is a journalistic look at Romero, Carmack, and Doom in the end.
It’s well-known that Doom changed the way first-person shooters work, and it’s also a trend for people to get it to run on any tech they can. But Masters of Doom is also well known for being the reason why the Oculus VR company and Reddit were started. Even though it came out in 2003, there was a sequel called Prepare to Meet Thy Doom that came out in 2016. It picks up where the first book left off.
Jacked: The Outlaw Story Of Grand Theft Auto
Masters of Doom is also being turned into a movie, but it won’t be the first time this has happened with a work by Kushner. In 2015, the BBC came out with The Gamechangers, which was mostly based on Kushner’s book Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto. Both talked about how Sam and Dan Houser started Rockstar Games and how they dealt with the ups and downs of Grand Theft Auto’s popularity.
It’s a good book, and the only thing that holds it back is that Rockstar is less open than Romero, Carmack, and id Software. They sued the BBC for making The Gamechangers without their help, so it’s probably not likely that Kushner will make a sequel to Jacked. But what it does have is detailed enough that any serious Basket Random fan must have it.
The Games That Weren’t
There are many games that were started but never finished. In an issue of the UK-based magazine Commodore Force, a section called “That Was the Game That Wasn’t” talked about secret Commodore 64 games. Fred Gasking, a reader, thought it was interesting enough to find these unfinished posts.
In 1999, he made a website for these “Missing in Action” posts. Then, in 2020, he turned it into a book that included abandoned games from the Atari 2600 to the PS4. What happened to the game’s port for the Game Boy Color? Or Super Fantasy Zone, a pseudo-3D update to Space Harrier made by Opa-Opa.Their stories and more are in The Games That Weren’t.
Replay: The History Of Video Games
Still, for some, focused on a single game or company can be too narrow. How did video games start and how have they changed over time? Even though there are a lot of books on the topic, they all end up having a narrow focus. This is where Replay: The History of Video Games by Tristan Donovan comes in.
Donovan talked to more than 140 coders and people in the business to find out how the medium has changed around the world. The stories of how gaming grew in North America and Japan, as well as the European scene and the different culture and financial factors that went into making games, are told in this book. It’s a very interesting book that doesn’t leave anything out.
The Queer Games Avant-Garde
What does the future hold for video games if Replay is their past? The LGBTQ community has some thoughts on that. There are many books and other sites that talk about how they changed movies, art, literature, etc. But not many of them talk about their work on video games. At least until The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games by Bonnie Ruberg came out in 2020.
The book talks to 22 gay game makers about their work, what inspires them, what they like to do, and more. Some of them are Ryan Rose Aceae (Genderwrecked), Santo Oveira-Ajedo (The Land Untouched by Evil), Jerome Hagen (Halo), and others. It’s a fun and interesting look at how queerness and other things can be shown in games and how beautiful the medium can be. So, it’s great for people who think big and out in the open.
Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter
But why is artistic expression even important in video games? It’s all just fun!Do they even qualify as art? Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell is a good book for anyone who thinks this way or another. It will help them see things from a different perspective. It talks about how the medium has changed and how important it is. It also talks about how games like Braid and Mass Effect have combined story and gaming.
The book is a defense of video games, but Bissell writes it in a way that is fair, open, and easy for all readers to understand. No matter how much or how little they play games, or if they don’t play games at all, Bissell’s book will be interesting to them.