There are dozens of amazing books about video games out there. There are also countless types of these books, ranging from biographies to theoretical texts, fun yet weirdly sweet joke books to tomes dedicated to the history of the medium. One thing all these books share is that their authors are all extremely passionate about the idea of electronic “play”, and their love for the source material can be found on every page.
So, if you’re looking for an interesting text to satisfy your need for Video Game knowledge, then you’re sure to find at least one book in this list that’ll catch your attention.
10 Hey! Listen! By Steve McNeil – A Concise History
Those living outside the United Kingdom may not know who Steve McNeil is, but in the British Isles McNeil is mostly known as being one of the team leaders of and key minds behind the Video Game themed TV show Second O Briain’s Go 8-Bit – a show that sees him and various celebrity guests take on video game based challenges.
McNeil is also an avid lover of Video Games, and his love and knowledge of the medium is showcased hilariously and in fascinating details in his book, Hey! Listen! – which is a digestible basic history of Electronic Gaming, from its origins as an experiment amongst tech students to becoming the biggest money-making entertainment industry in the world.
9 Blood Sweat And Pixels By Jason Schrier – Equal Measures Sad And Hopeful
Not all games that start production get finished. Sometimes years and years of hard work, toiling, and dedication can be shelved in an instant. And even when they do get finished, the weight of the lengthy and harsh development time can way heavily on those making the game for years afterwards.
These harsh truths are highlighted beautifully in renowned video game journalist Jason Schrier’s 2017 book, Blood Sweat & Pixels. The name says it all really; the book consists of 10 stories filled with personal drama, insane corporate decisions, and a deep, eye-opening guide into the world of video game development.
8 Queer Games Avant-Garde By Bo Ruberg – The Essential Guide To Queer Video Games
Throughout the 20 interviews found in The Queer Games Avant-Gardeyou truly get a sense that you are just scratching the tip of the iceberg when it concerns queer video games. This statement is 100% meant as a positive – the book lines up interviews with LGBTQ+ video game developer celebrities and relative unknowns, all the while showcasing the works they’ve made. The games on display are those that defy the norms of traditional AAA game design philosophy, reflecting how those making them defy the norms of hetero-normative society.
The work that Dr. Bo Ruberg has put into this book is extraordinary, and you can definitely tell that they care deeply for the medium.
7 Things I Learned From Mario’s Butt Edited by Laura Kate Dale – A Silly Yet Sweet Book
If one could summarize Laura Kate Dale’s writing style in just a few words, then it would be with the following three, “Silly, informative, and sweet”. On the surface, Things I Learned From Mario’s Butt is merely just silly – a collection of pieces about various video game butts, each written by a different friend of Dale, and all are lovingly illustrated by Zack Flavin.
However, as you get further into the book, and read the eloquent odes to “butts” in all their shapes and forms, you begin to understand the sentiment behind the book – to provide genuine insight into what makes the different writers tick, as well as a sense to just bring something into the world that is always in need. Joy.
6 Masters Of Doom By David Kushner – Hell Awaits
Who knows what video games would look like today if John Carmack and John Romero had never joined forces back in the early 90s. One thing is certain for sure, we wouldn’t have received Doomwhich in turn would mean the first-person shooter genre as we know it wouldn’t exist.
However, as the book highlights, before becoming two of the most influential people in the video game industrythe two John’s had many trials, tribulations, and tests to get over first, all of which is excellently summarized in Masters of Doom.
5 Service Games: The Rise And Fall of Sega By Sam Pettus – A History Of A Tumultuous Company
Very few video game companies have risen as high as SEGA, or fallen quite as hard as the truly international corporation. The history of SEGA is so filled with intense stories of internal rivalries, fraught relationships between developers, and strange yet inspired business decisionsthat trying to compile all of this into one volume would be a hard task for anyone.
Yet Sam Pettus, author of Service Games: The Rise and Fall of Segamanages to weave an extremely tight narrative, while still taking the time to explore and reveal dozens of tidbits about the company that once challenged Nintendo as the largest and most influential force in gaming.
4 Gamish!: A Graphic History Of Gaming By Edward Ross – A Graphic History Of Play
Gamish! is one of the most ambitious books about video games ever published. Taking the form of a graphic novel, the book not only acts as an extremely concise history of the medium but also manages to squeeze in musings on the origins of what it means to “Play” as well as the many social difficulties that video games create and attempt to deal with.
All of this excellently researched material is only accentuated by the smooth drawings and colour palate, which make processing all of this material all the more enjoyable.
3 Video Games And The Global South Edited By Philip Penix-Tadsen – A Global Phenomena
Narratives about the video game industry tend to focus mostly on three places; Japan, The United States, and in more recent years, Europe (these areas combined are sometimes known as the key components that make up the so-called “Global North). This is understandable to an extent, as these places make the biggest video games with the most market value and media attention.
However, Philip Penix-Tadsen attempts to rectify this oversight with the book Video Games And The Global South, a collection of essays on video game cultures in the eponymous “Global South”. This term is sometimes used as a descriptor for the vast areas of the world and human population that live outside the area of imbalanced economic wealth centered in the “Global North”.
2 Pure Invention: How Japan’s Pop Culture Conquered The Modern World By Matt Alt
While not strictly about video games, Pure Invention is absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in learning just how deeply connected to Japan’s culture the medium is.
The book goes to great lengths to make the reader understand that without the Japanese video game industry taking what was started in the United States, and turning it into the modern industry we know today, we would not have anything close to modern gaming. An absolutely fascinating read that really puts the Japanese video game industry’s importance into perspective, especially in terms of its influence on the United States.
1 Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition – A Classic Fun Time
Not all books about video games are deep dives into the history of the medium or “tell-alls” on important figures and sub-cultures in the wider video game zeitgeist. Some of them are just really fun, light, and informative reads – just like the Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition series.
Obviously filled with video game record breakersthe books are also filled to the brim with interesting facts and tidbits about video games that make for a really fun read on a relaxed day. The books also act as excellent summaries of just what exactly was big, important, and culturally relevant in their respective years of publication.