| Posted 12/18/10 at 06:48 AM||Reply with quote #1 |
|I noticed over at Brainy Gamer, Michael has a nice list of video game orientated books in his bookshelf column to the left. With Christmas coming up I'm interested in either adding some video game books to my book wishlist, or to pick up post festives with the vouchers I'm likely to get.|
As such I would love to hear which books people have read, and which they feel are worth the cover price. I'm curious in all aspects from history to culture to critique.
| Posted 12/18/10 at 12:38 PM||Reply with quote #2 |
|I really liked Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design - lots to think about, lots of useful suggestions. |
Moderator - Another World
| Posted 06/17/11 at 03:38 AM||Reply with quote #3 |
|Oh, a bit late, but here we go nevertheless:|
Tom Bissell: Extra Lives. Why Videogames Matter
A terrific book by a terrific writer. Bissell gives very personal accounts on his personal relationshop with a couple of games, analyzing them in a comprehensive, but also entertaining fashion. His central aim is to find a reply on the question: How come that games can be at the same time one of the most stupid and one of the most complex mediums for storytelling? (He intended to use the full subtitle "And Why They Don't Matter More" - the quasi-schicophrenic and always critical POV is what makes the book so valuable.)
Tristan Donovan: Replay: The History of Video Games
The books has its flows (typos, a somewhat strange font) - but it simply is, to my knowledge, the most comprehensive accoung of the history of the game so far. Donovan has a style that's easy on the eyes, so to say, so it was a real page turner for me.
Nick Montfort/Ian Bogost: Racing The Beam
The first book in what is intended to become a series on a relatively new approach: Platform Studies. It is nothing less than an attempt to describe a platform (in this case the Atari VCS) as a complete entity - the (short) book takes a bunch of exemplary games and uses them to discuss how the platform with its constraints shaped the form of these games, and how the developers found (sometimes downright genius) ways to work around the limitation. The book touches on a lot of different subjects (it's one of the rare books that not only talks about games, but also about hard- and software, right down to the code level), but it really allows a wholesome look at them that is still very rare. It's very readable, too. (More than, say, Bogost's even more famous, but more academic books, "Unit Operations" and "Persuasive Games", which are - if you're not a stranger to that kind of lecture - worth reading as well; the latter especially.)
Jim Rossignol: This Gaming Life
To my own shame, I have to admit that I haven't read it in its entirety yet. But it's by one fourth of RockPaperShotgun, so that alone is reason enough to read it. If you need even more reasons: It can be read for free online. It is "part personal history, part travel narrative, part philosophical reflection on the meaning of play", with Jim visiting three different cities, ruminating about the gaming culture he comes across there - and much more.
...so much for the moment. Maybe more to come! (My shelf is all too stuffed with games on gaming, which I have not all read yet - so many books, so little time! But that there certainly is a good start.)
| Posted 06/17/11 at 05:32 AM||Reply with quote #4 |
|@davidcarlton: Thanks for the suggestion. I had a look at it on Amazon and the reviews seemed to be glowing. Seems like it would provide some interesting insights when the gamification of nearly everything seems to be so topical.
@oozo Thanks for the extensive post oozo, much appreciated. Christmas came and went and I didn't end up getting any Game related books, even though some like Extra Lives 'were' on my wish list - though to be fair I did get a lot of other books in a diverse range of interests I have so I'm not complaining. I know exactly how you feel when you say so much to read, so little time. Add in great movies, great videogames, making ones way in life and there is not a lot left over :-)
I've read some of Ian Bogost's stuff, including part of Persusive Games so I'm no stranger to his writings. I love the idea of a platform focused book, sounds great. Atari has such a dynamic history, from the conception of the system, the hacking that went on, and the industry that in some ways it helped start.
I've also read some of Replay which I enjoyed for the gaps it helped fill in of my existing knowledge. I know what you mean about font though.
The Gaming Life is one that hadn't been on my radar, though it's funny because I stumbled across it just the other day when I clicked on this little book icon next to Jim's name at the bottom of RPS. Wasn't sure of it's quality as I hadn't heard of it before, so it's nice to get some feedback.
Anyway thanks again for the post, I'll have to find the time to add one of these to my bedside pile soon. Anyway further feedback on any other books would be welcomed.
| Posted 06/17/11 at 03:33 PM||Reply with quote #5 |
|Interesting discussion! I'm going to look up some of these books. I've read a few books about video games. Twisty Little Passages is a great discussion of text-based adventure games, though it is a bit academic (trying to bridge interactive fiction and text-based games). It also has some history of text-based adventure games.|
Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature is another more academic book which seeks to classify interactive works very thoroughly. There's some interesting research and connections to traditional rhetoric, but it's pretty heavy at times (at least it's concise and methodical writing). The definition of an interactive text springs off of where "the user decides which path to take." I think there's also some discussion of how in any physical book, you can decide what parts to read, to read the ending first, etc., but with a computer game, for example, you can't just jump to the ending and read it there, you have to go through the game. It's very interesting to me, but it's not exactly a page-turner.
I thought Wark's Gamer Theory looked really cool, but I've started to read it several times and I can never follow where he's going. It seems like someone who reads a lot of philosophy just spouting off random associations with games? If someone can explain this book to me, I would love to hear it.
| Posted 06/24/11 at 10:34 AM||Reply with quote #6 |
Also check out "Chris Crawford on Game Design", it's worth a read.
Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock and roll. ~SHIGERU MIYAMOTO
| Posted 06/17/12 at 10:22 PM||Reply with quote #7 |
|I know this post is old, but I just wanted to update that I just finished "Tristan Donovan: Replay: The History of Video Games" and very much enjoyed it - I had read a chapter or two in the past, but never the whole book. Whilst I knew much of it from my own readings of video game history over the years (web articles, magazines, and bits in other books etc.) it does provide a nice go to book for an overview that is fairly current. Recommended.|
I think Extra Lives will be my next (videogame related) read. The newer Super Mario book caught my eye, but some reviews flagged it as sloppy on the fact checking. Anyone read it?
Oh and I also read Ready Player One - Ernest Cline a while ago. Whilst not a videogame book per-say it is steeped videogame nostalgia. It's a fun read that will probably resonate with some on this forum. Worth checking out a review at the very least.