Everyone loves video games, but very few people know about their history, the grueling amount of work that goes into their development, and the stories behind some of the most popular titles. Fortunately, over the past 10 years there have been tons of great books written about the gaming industry, which has long been overlooked and not taken seriously.
For anyone interested in the game, picking up a great book on its history is a great way to learn about the industry’s most notorious failures, successes, and moments. From the infamous “Console Wars” to behind-the-scenes facts about hit games like Stardew Valleyreading about the industry’s past is a great way to appreciate video games more.
Console Wars (Blake J. Harris)
Billed as a “non-fiction novel”, Console Wars tells the story of the epic battle between Nintendo and SEGA in the 1990s. At the start of the decade, Nintendo had a virtual monopoly of the game market until SEGA wandered into its Genesis/Mega Drive console.
However, just 10 years later, with the arrival of the struggling Dreamcast console, it became clear that SEGA was on the verge of losing it all. Console Wars delves into the boardroom fights, late-night cram sessions, and behind-closed-doors breakdowns that eventually became known as Console Wars and defined gaming in the 90s.
Video games have always been queer (Bonnie Ruberg)
Written by Bonnie Ruberg, professor at the University of California, Irvine, Video games have always been queer addresses the game’s unique and interesting history while applying queer theory to multiple products.
Interestingly, Ruberg decides to ignore the obvious big budget games that have notable LGBTQ+ characters, and instead focuses on how games like Burnout, Octoda, Portaland pong were also designed and performed in odd ways. It’s definitely a great read that will change the way some gamers view their favorite games overall.
One of the most recent developments in gaming history is the emergence of Esports and its growth into a highly profitable and competitive sport that sometimes attracts enough crowds to fill arenas.
Demystify esports follows competitive gaming back to its origins in South Korea and explores how and why it became a multi-million dollar global phenomenon. Even better, the book is written for an audience that doesn’t know anything about Esports, so it’s a great option for someone who wants to read a welcome book that isn’t bogged down by jargon.
Masters of Fate (David Kushner)
1993 Loss is considered one of the best first-person shooters ever made. More than that, it’s widely considered one of the best and most influential video games of all time. Masters of Fate investigates the stories of John Carmack and John Romero – the founders of id Software – and their journey to the release of their hit game Loss.
The book follows the creation of id Software, the release of Loss, the praise it received, the unintended controversy it created, and ultimately the turmoil Carmack and Romero had to endure as a result of it all. Besides being a great book about the game, it’s also a fantastic personal account of two complicated but brilliant creators.
Retro Gaming: A History of Video Games in Byte Format (Mike Diver)
In Retro Gaming: A Byte-Size History of Video Gameseach page is a mix of handwriting and fully colored images, which really helps bring classic games and consoles to life.
The book is an overview of all things retro, from classic consoles like the beloved Super Nintendo to the totally underrated SEGA Saturn, as well as famous (and infamous) old games, and even weird and wild peripherals including many gamers probably never suspected it existed. It’s the perfect book for nostalgia fans or anyone who wants a brief overview of how far the industry has come.
Game on! (Dustin Hansen)
Game on! is a celebration of influential video games over the decades, exploring everything from Zork, Myst, Monitoring, and more. The book is considered “YA Non-fiction”, which simply means that it is a non-fiction book with an easier writing style to make it more accessible to people of different reading levels. .
However, in a jargon-laden and largely misunderstood industry like video games, this basic writing style is incredibly useful for readers who may not already know the difference between a developer and a publisher, or the definitions of words like sprites, polygons, rendering, and game engines.
Sonic the Hedgehog Encyclo-speed-ia (Ian Flynn)
Sonic the Hedgehog has been a polarizing figure in gaming for decades, being both the mascot that built SEGA’s empire, while also suffering from some horribly revamped games in the 2000s. However, with the 2020 movie, Sonic has returned to the spotlight and is finally getting the universal recognition it deserves.
the Encyclo-speed-ia is a fully colored giant tabletop book that gives readers an in-depth look into the world of Sonic. From the original 16-bit games to the modern era, each level is explored in detail explaining enemies, world history, and more. The book also contains background profiles for characters such as Dr. Robotnik, Knuckles, and Tails.
The Comic History of Video Games (Jonathan Hennessey)
For comic book fans, The history of video game comics will be a must read. It’s a fully illustrated game story, all presented in the style of a massive comic book. From the early days of gaming in arcades to the emergence of consoles, and even mobile hits like angry Birdsthe book does a surprisingly thorough job of capturing the history of the industry.
Additionally, its unique concept of presenting the story in the form of a comic strip makes it a fresh take on a story that some gamers may already know, making it an enjoyable read even for the most hardcore gamers. more pure and hard.
Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry (Jason Schreier)
One of the tragic realities of the gaming world is that the industry is incredibly toxic and volatile, and largely operates on a boom and bust cycle. This leads many studios to “crunch”, which is when employees are forced to work long overtime hours (often unpaid).
It also creates tons of friction between colleagues, leads to an endless revolving door of hiring and firing, and sometimes it even destroys the studio. Tap Reset discover the stories of the doomed studios behind games like Bioshock Infinite, epic mickey, dead space, and more. It’s a fascinating (yes tragic) reality of the video game world.
Blood, Sweat and Pixels (Jason Schreier)
Blood, sweat and pixels tells the story of some of the world’s most popular games, from their inception to the production process, release, and more. Games explored include Stardew Valleywhich was made by one guy for almost five years, Dragon Age: Inquisition, which almost turned out to be a huge disaster; the untimely fate of the now canceled Star Wars: 1313; and much more.
This is a great book for readers looking for a good variety of stories, all of which show that no game goes through the same production process.
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