Believe it or not, the miracle of Youtube and online outlets such as this fine website aren’t the only available sources that can be mined for information regarding debates around video games. No, sometimes you have to swap screen for page in order to immerse yourself knee-deep and educate yourself more about this beautiful medium, and there are plenty of books ready and waiting.
Covering a wide breadth of topics and styles, from beautifully-printed coffee table books, fictionalised version of video game histories, as well as one book all about the act of developing video games, here are the best books about video games you can read right now:
- Console Wars by Blake J Harris
Subtitled Sega, Nintendo, and the battle that defined a generation, Blake J Harris’s book is a microscopic look at the original 16-bit rivalry between two video game industry titans which took place in the 90s. Console Wars is interesting in the sense that while factual, the entire narrative is recounted using traditional prose you’d expect to see in fiction, with dialogue, instances, and events all based upon over two hundred interviews.
If you’d thought that the current heated competition between Microsoft and Sony is topical, Blake J Harris’s Console Wars details all you need to know about the original video game rivalry. Depicting the legendary rise and staggering fall of Sega’s place in the console market, as well as how Nintendo originally laid the foundation to continue being successful. It’s often said that history repeats itself, so this is a story that might well be worth knowing.
- Sega Megadrive/Genesis: The Collected Works by Keith Stuart
The perfect coffee table book to pick up when wanting to lounge around and have the occasional flick through. Keith Stuart’s Sega Megadrive/Genesis: The Collected Works resembles more of an art book that prominently places “lifestyle” shots of the console in full view, and was originally funded by fans on kickstarted before undergoing a second publish run.
Most of the art and shots can only be best described as candy for the eye, serving as a nice retrospective on both versions of the console itself as well as Sega’s most-cherished gaming properties. As a nice bonus, the book is backed up by 28 interviews with some of the company’s most notable developers, all of which help shed light on the thinking behind each of their respective games.
- 100 best games that never existed by Nate Crawley
More of a comedic take on the current state of the games industry as opposed to an authentic or informative look back/ahead, Nate Crawley had the idea for 100 best games that never existed after he proposed a made-up video game for every ‘like’ he received on twitter. The idea soon proved so popular that Crawley went ahead and conjured a book full of hypothetical games we don’t think will ever see the light of day.
Highlights include, Behind the Bins at Burnley Co-Op Warriors which would have players go head to head around the back of one of the UK’s leading grocery stores. And Genghis Can’t which would take the form of a Civilisation-esque simulation game that would focus on rallying the troops as opposed to actually deploying them. These are just5 the tip of the iceberg for some of the book’s hysterical but genuinely well thought through takes.
- Power Up by Chris Kohler
Penned by veteran video game journalist Chris Kohler, Power Up: How Japanese Video Games gave the world an extra life was released in 2005, and provides readers with an informative look on how media’s youngest format has impacted the world around us. Sometimes it’s so easy to fall into despair when looking through the news which chooses to focus on the bad implications can have such as cyberbullying, so Kohler’s book is a nice reminder that overall video games are an amazing thing.
- Blood, Sweat, & Pixels by Jason Schreier
An in-depth look at just how much time, care, and attention is required to just even get a video game made and off the ground, Kotaku News Editor Jason Schreier’s book Blood, Sweat, and Pixels is a chapter-by-chapter breakdown that documents the trials and tribulations experienced by a specific game. This more short-form/essay-based analysis about the development of video games makes it easily digestible, and is worth knowing for any gamer that has ever taken issue with a game delay.