Video Gaming Books


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…


So the connection there is that Jason Jones (Bungie founder) was at University of Chicago when we were there and Richard was friends with him. When Pathways Into Darkness was released, there was a lot of interest in Bungie at U of C. Richard, as I remember, was particularly interested in design of the game and Jason’s future. I suspect that’s why he ended up using the Marathon engine. Anyhow, Richard is super friendly.


Thanks! I love this kind of stuff, so if you can think of anything else, I’d love to hear it.
Also, “Pathways Into Darkness” looks interesting. I take it that it was never ported to PC, as I’d never heard of it until just now.


I’m not sure about that. The Wikipedia page probably has more info? I just remember playing many hours of it.