Video Gaming Books

I did some searches and couldn’t really find any thread to glom onto for this but I’ve noticed a distinct uptick in the number of books being released about our hobby. Sure, there are still lots of strategy guides being produced, the most lucrative area of that seems to be Minecraft and Pokémon. That’s really no surprise.

What IS a surprise is the amount of books coming lately that focus on either really cool retro subjects or even modern games and their artwork. There are Halo art books, Warcraft ones, Splatoon… it’s really rather awesome. I have always been a huge fan of how games look on the printed page. It’s a major reason I still support videogame magazines and why my career writing for gaming mags will likely be the best time of my life when it’s all said and done. There’s just something magical about the art for videogames when it’s static because it often has so much life on the page that excites your mind’s eye. Better yet, you can live it in your favorite series once you fire up the game!

Retro stuff is my forte these days since I’m old (like many of you…) and the reason I thought to start this thread today is I just found out about and ordered this…

I mean, holy shit! Just look at that beautiful Neo Geo artwork that will leap off the pages again! I’m sure that’s part nostalgia, but the beautiful character art in the games and how it translated back to traditional artwork is just one major reason the Neo Geo will always be my favorite console. Its relative unattainable status at the time has always made it my holy grail.

Bitmap Books has other similar tomes for the NES, SNES, Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum and more. They’re in the UK so it’s free shipping for you folks over there.

I also bought this when it came out…

It’s beautiful and highly recommended. Hardcore Gaming 101 has a number of excellent books on Amazon too and Jeremy Parish has put out some excellent stuff too.

If you’ve got other recommendations, drop em here!

The Boss Fight book by Derek Yu about Spelunky is great. On one level, it’s the story of how Spelunky got made, but he uses it to talk about the systems in the game and his philosophy on making games.

Has anyone else read any of the other Boss Fight books? They all sound interesting, but since they’re all by different authors, I’m worried that the quality is uneven.

Putting that Atari artwork book on my wishlist, I loved those game boxes when I was a kid - more than the games themselves sometimes.

I got the Art of Atari book as a present. It’s great fun.

Anyone heard of this old goodie? It was written 30-40 years ago and is about a sociologist who really gets into Breakout. Like, really.

Typical quote

Fifty hours, a good five hours a day for ten days, in the afternoon, the evening, at three o’clock in the morning, more time on these five shots than I’d so far spent altogether. When I wasn’t at the TV, I was practicing the sequence in my imagination, walking down the street, sitting in a cafe twirling a salt shaker, looking up during dinner in a Japanese restaurant at a bamboo and rice paper trellis with Breakout-like rectangles on the ceiling. Everytime I tried to hold to the conviction there wasn’t any point perfecting something I already knew how to do perfectly well, there was the TV screen, now permanently on, inviting me to prove it. The leftovers of each round just stayed there, going through those endless color variations they’d programmed on the cartridge to keep the tube from going bad, beckoning me like the needle beckons a junkie. The only way not to practice was to leave the house. Otherwise it was like breaking a chocolate habit in Hershey, Pennsylvania, giving up
booze on New Year’s Eve.

It goes on like that, for 150 pages.

Sudnow book is possibly-not-legally available in PDF form here.

I just purchased The Art of Atari this morning. Can’t wait to read it.

There is also an Art of Atari poster book you guys. A POSTER BOOK!

This is one of my favorite recent reads and I’ve recommended it widely. I gave it to @Vesper during Secret Santa last year, along with one more Boss Fight book.

I want to like and read that so bad but I hate Spelunky, and other “designed to be extremely hard to the point of ridiculousness” games so much.

I hate super hard games too but Spelunky is a really good platformer with some mild and hilarious frustrations.

Super meat boy, I wanna be the guy, etc… those games suck.

Absolutely fantastic book that inspired me to start tinkering with Game Maker. Haven’t read the other one you got me yet.

I don’t really see Spelunky as much harder than Super Mario Bros. It just has some other mechanics you have to learn. Anywho, the book is good. I think you’d enjoy the book even if you don’t like the game.

that Neo Geo book looks incredible! Gotta love that Shinkiro art.

Here’s my pick:
This released earlier this year and is edited by none other than Toady, the creator of Dwarf Fortress, as well Tanya Short, the creator of Moon Hunters. If I remember correctly it also has multiple chapters by Mark R. Johnson, who is developing Ultima Ratio Regum, as well as chapters from many other prominent developers of roguelikes.

@DaveLong I’ve been meaning to thank you for linking to Bitmap’s Neo Geo book. mine came in a few weeks ago and it is just FANTASTIC! it’s almost as good as owning the real thing ;P

I have that cover on the left on the real thing. :) You’re welcome! It’s an awesome book. I ordered The Art of Fire Emblem Awakening for us for Christmas. Looking forward to busting that open next!

Oh wow, how did I miss this thread before? ALL of these books look just fascinating.
Unfortunately, I cannot afford any of them right now, but I’m bookmarking this thread for the future, and for now, I’m using the link that @wilykat provided to read “Pilgrim In The Microworld”. Thanks, wilykat.

And thanks to everyone for the recommendations, and I hope to see a few more pop up here in the future.

I think I only own two books on video games:
Masters Of Doom by David Kushner, which I think everyone here is probably familiar with.

And also Game Design: Theory And Practice by Richard Rouse III. Rouse is a game designer himself, and he interviews several other designers, such as Doug Church, Chris Crawford, and Sid Meier, among others. He also includes the full design document for one of his own games, “The Suffering”, which comprises about 75 pages of the book’s 700 pages. The book is very thorough and interesting, but there’s a lot to read. I bought it about 10 years ago, and still haven’t finished it.

This one is very nice.

Heh, cool. I went to college with Richard and have seen him here and there over the years. I loaned him my Monkey Island code wheels so he could scan them and put them up on a warez server he ran from his dorm room. Ah, the early 90s.

I bought the book because I was a huge fan of “The Suffering”. I thought the PC port was fantastic, and I was on a kick to find out anything I could about the making of the game. When I saw that the entire design doc was in there, I had to have it.

His company, Paranoid Productions, was also responsible for another game I loved back in the old days, Damage Incorporated, which was made with the Marathon 2 engine.

That looks pretty cool.

I was on the wrong side of the pond to understand the whole Speccy thing, but its lovable eccentricity was evident even from a distance…