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Videogames: The Books

maximumzeromaximumzero I...wait, what?New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
edited August 2010 in Games and Technology
I was in Barnes & Noble today looking for Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6 (They didn't have it.) when I came across this on the new release table:
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Grand Theft Auto IV is both a waste of time and the most colossal creative achievement of the last 25 years, according to this scintillating meditation on the promise and discontents of video games. Journalist Bissell (Chasing the Sea) should know; the ultraviolent car-chase-and-hookers game was his constant pastime during a months-long intercontinental cocaine binge. He's ashamed of his video habit, but also ashamed of being ashamed of the dominant art form of our time; by turning the eye of a literary critic on the gory, seemingly puerile genre of ultraviolent, open-ended shooter games, he finds unexpected riches. Bissell bemoans the uncompromising stupidity of their story lines, wafer-thin characters, and the moronic dialogue, but celebrates the button-pushing, mesmeric qualities and the subtle, profound depths these conceal—the catharses of teamwork and heroism in the zombie-fest Left for Dead, the squirmy moral dilemmas of Mass Effect, the mood of wistful savagery suffusing the rifles-and-chainsaws-bedecked denizens of Gears of War. Bissell excels both at intellectual commentary and evocative reportage on the experience of playing games, while serving up engrossing mise-en-scène narratives of the mayhem. If anyone can bridge the aesthetic chasm between readers and gamers, he can. (June 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Sounds interesting, and I'll likely pick it up in the near future. It reminded me of Game Over:
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A book I bought from EB Games back in 2001 for like 99 cents. It was the history of Nintendo, but it only went up to about '95/'96, so it didn't get into Nintendo getting their ass handed to them in the Playstation/N64 generation, but it was a still a good read.

Supposedly this is the spiritual sequel to that book.
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Which I also plan on picking up soon.

So hey, any books about videogames that are worth checking out?

I also found these in Amazon's related books section but I know nothing about 'em.
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Feel free to include art books, as I have the Megaman & Megaman X collections and I plan on picking up the MMZero & Okami collections soon as well.
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Posts

  • Xenogears of BoreXenogears of Bore Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Masters of DOOM and Game Over are the only vidja game books I've ever really enjoyed.

    Game Over also doubles as a fairly in depth guide of Atari's rise and fall.

    Xenogears of Bore on
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  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Chantry of NightmaresRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I love Capcom for localizing those artbooks. They are beautiful.


    I've imported one video game artbook: Kaneko's Digital Devil Apocalypse.
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    I own a few of the bonus ones given out as preorders in the US: Tales of Symphonia, P3's, P4's, and the Magna Carta artbook(horrible game, beautiful art).

    cj iwakura on
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  • anoffdayanoffday To be changed whenever Anoffday gets around to it. Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    The only video game book I have is called the art of the video game. And unfortunately, they cover some art work from games that I don't really care about. Actually most of them I don't care about, but I got it for like 10 bucks at a book store and it had been around 40, so not a bad deal.

    Also, let me point out that books are freaking expensive. So I find it hard to pick up books, when I could buy a video game or two for the price of one book. They both tell stories so when given the choice I'll usually choose the game.

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  • UnbreakableVowUnbreakableVow Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    5178BH5A3GL._SS500_.jpg

    I bought this a couple years back and it's a really good read

    They do spend a lot of time on pinball machines though, but I actually found it pretty fascinating

    UnbreakableVow on
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  • mere_immortalmere_immortal So tasty!Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I've heard pretty good things about This Gaming Life by Jim Rossignol.

    Yet to pick it up yet though.

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  • Forever ZefiroForever Zefiro Jack is back Time to let 'er ripRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    How about books that are in the universe of a particular video game? Like the Mass Effect books. I read the first two and they were interesting. Nothing required for the game, but a neat look at other stuff that goes on.

    I picked up a Diablo book also, in my anticipation for D3. Haven't started it yet though. I love Diablo's mythology. I must have read the D1 game manual twenty times.

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  • Xenogears of BoreXenogears of Bore Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I was literally just about to post about how not allowing Worlds of Power and other video game novelizations into this thread is a good idea.

    I mean sure, it's amusing to mock Halotards about how deep the backstory is in the not fit for airplane reading halo books, or Wownerds and those awful books.

    Man being a Fantasy book reviewer sure did suck during the previous decade. Glad I'm no longer doing that.

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  • Alfred J. KwakAlfred J. Kwak Registered User
    edited July 2010
    Planescape: Torment - the novel is supposedly no where near as good as the game?

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  • Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I definitely read the World of Power novelization of Metal Gear when I was about eight years old.


    There's a super-heated area ahead? How will I get through? I know! I'll eat some rations so my body temperature increases while I'm digesting them, and then the heat won't affect me!


    Even an eight-year-old knows bullshit when he sees it.

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  • ikillkennyikillkenny Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    5178BH5A3GL._SS500_.jpg

    I bought this a couple years back and it's a really good read

    They do spend a lot of time on pinball machines though, but I actually found it pretty fascinating

    This book is fantastic. Game Over is also pretty good.

    ikillkenny on
  • OlivawOlivaw good name, isn't it? peach treesRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I think I heard good things about Replay

    That's the one about the worldwide history of games, right? Because the dude originally wrote a book centered more on American game history, but then he wrote another one with a more international perspective

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  • YodaTunaYodaTuna Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I read SmartBomb
    http://www.amazon.com/Smartbomb-Quest-Entertainment-Videogame-Revolution/dp/1565125452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1280208339&sr=8-1

    I enjoyed it a bit. There was a chapter on Wil Wright that was really interesting.

    YodaTuna on
  • VeganVegan Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Extra Lives has been getting a lot of mainstream press, but the excerpt I read was completely stupid. The guys just writes about his cocaine addiction in Vegas and how GTA4 is the greatest game evar.

    Vegan on
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  • CherrnCherrn Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Vegan wrote: »
    Extra Lives has been getting a lot of mainstream press, but the excerpt I read was completely stupid. The guys just writes about his cocaine addiction in Vegas and how GTA4 is the greatest game evar.

    I actually just finished Extra Lives, and while I disagree with him on a lot of things, it is by far the best nonfiction book on video games I've read.

    The bit about GTA is one chapter (the last one, in fact); every section is devoted to one or two different games. As a whole he definitely gushes uncontrollably about emergent gameplay, but it is more of a celebration of the sheer potential of gaming as seen through a selection of very specific current examples, and how he feels they offer something that other media cannot.

    It's generally very well-written, and he has a fair amount of insight into the philosophy of game design. My main problems with the book are that it is entirely console-focused (and I don't mean to be elitist, but he's definitely missing some context from the PC perspective), and that he is too fond of throwing around maxims and theories as fact (he solely blames the original Resident Evil for setting video game narratives back a decade, which I think is pretty short-sighted).

    Nonetheless, it is actual, proper video game discourse, to which he dedicates an inordinate amount of respect and passion. I definitely recommend picking it up.

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  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I've heard that Game Over is really hard to find now.

    Of all the art books I own, the HL2 one is fantastic. There's real insight into the design in there.

    Willeth on
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  • LorahaloLorahalo Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Holy shit I want that Okami artbook.

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  • LBD_NytetraynLBD_Nytetrayn TorontoRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    cj iwakura wrote: »
    I love Capcom for localizing those artbooks. They are beautiful.

    Hey, gotta give credit where credit is due: UDON is the one who's localizing them.

    LBD_Nytetrayn on
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  • BiopticBioptic Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I've heard pretty good things about This Gaming Life by Jim Rossignol.

    Yet to pick it up yet though.

    You can get a legal digital copy for free.

    The Okami book is astonisingly beautiful - and huge, as well! If it was a normal novel, it'd be a decent thickness, but this is 300-ish pages of A4-sized glossy full-colour prints. All rendered in that lovely watercolour and ink style.

    HL2: Raising the Bar is just a good book in it's own right - it's less about wowing you with concept art, and more of an insight into the amazing amount of work that goes into the design process. I can remember a longish email exchange over the types of glasses Dr. Breen could wear (complete with mockups), and what each style would convey about his personality.

    At least in the UK, books are never as great an expense as games - an art book will never cost more than £20 (novels £5-15), whereas a PS3/X360 game will cost £40-50 at release.

    Lastly, I can only applaud the recent surge in Eastern European and Russian literature being adapted into video games, as each tends to be fairly faithful and enhance the experience of the other - Roadside Picnic (sort of), Metro 2033 and The Witcher included.

    Bioptic on
  • Cameron_TalleyCameron_Talley Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Had not heard of the Nintendo Magic book. Will pick that up soon. "Game Over" is one of my favorite books, period. It is a fascinating look at the entire early Nintendo era, and is a must read for anyone that calls themselves a Nintendo fan. Or any business person, either--I've heard it is even required reading in some college business courses (or was at one time, anyway).

    I haven't seen anyone mention the pop culture and philosophy series. I know at least two: Final Fantasy and Philosophy and The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy. The first I've read and it's pretty good, though centered on the later FF games. Haven't picked up the Zelda book yet.

    I work in an academic library for a major university, and we've been ordering a ton of books on Video Games. There are lots of scholarly collections of essays on games and game theory out there.

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  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2010
    One of the best video game books is the original player's guide to Super Mario World. It was like 500 pages and the first 200 or so are just a Nintendo/Mario history book.

    Also speaking of which, remember those Choose Your Own Adventure Mario books? Man, those things were dark for kids. One possible ending of one of the Mario ones was
    Luigi being turned into an egg and then accidentally killed by Mario

    FyreWulff on
  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    FyreWulff wrote: »
    One of the best video game books is the original player's guide to Super Mario World. It was like 500 pages and the first 200 or so are just a Nintendo/Mario history book.

    Also speaking of which, remember those Choose Your Own Adventure Mario books? Man, those things were dark for kids. One possible ending of one of the Mario ones was
    Luigi being turned into an egg and then accidentally killed by Mario

    man what

    Willeth on
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  • ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    How about books that are in the universe of a particular video game? Like the Mass Effect books. I read the first two and they were interesting. Nothing required for the game, but a neat look at other stuff that goes on.

    I picked up a Diablo book also, in my anticipation for D3. Haven't started it yet though. I love Diablo's mythology. I must have read the D1 game manual twenty times.

    The Diablo manuals are indeed awesome. I really enjoyed the manual and materials that came with Deus Ex, and the Mechwarrior 2 manual was good times as well.
    I mean sure, it's amusing to mock Halotards about how deep the backstory is in the not fit for airplane reading halo books, or Wownerds and those awful books.

    Woah, dude, don't hold back. Tell us how you really feel.

    I've enjoyed a wide variety of terrible video game adaptations. I haven't read the Mass Effect ones, but I'll probably snag them eventually. I enjoyed the Halo novels I've read so far, though they do vary in quality, especially between authors. I liked most of the Resident Evil books when I read them, which was a good decade or more ago.

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  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2010
    Willeth wrote: »
    FyreWulff wrote: »
    One of the best video game books is the original player's guide to Super Mario World. It was like 500 pages and the first 200 or so are just a Nintendo/Mario history book.

    Also speaking of which, remember those Choose Your Own Adventure Mario books? Man, those things were dark for kids. One possible ending of one of the Mario ones was
    Luigi being turned into an egg and then accidentally killed by Mario

    man what

    Actually looking over TMK's covers, I'm pretty sure it was this one that had that story

    nab7.jpg

    Is is indeed man what. I remember reading it again because I was all "the fuck was that?"

    FyreWulff on
  • Cameron_TalleyCameron_Talley Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    In all fairness, I don't think those weird endings were any worse than the ones from regular CYOA books.

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  • GyralGyral Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I've got High Score!, which certainly has a lot of pictures but I'm not to sure on the quality of the writing.

    I also have a few of the art books for Tales of the Abyss, Final Fantasy IX, Persona 3 and 4 and a few others that I'm sure I'm forgetting.

    Gyral on
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  • AuburnTigerAuburnTiger Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I'm not sure this qualifies, but I just ordered this:
    bayonetta-ce_3d-cover_uk.png

    It's a 400 page guide/artbook HC that came out 8 months after the game; Future Press makes some amazing guide books.

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  • maximumzeromaximumzero I...wait, what? New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I have the hardcover guide for Twlight Princess, and I want to pick up the hardcover guides for both DS titles.

    I'll likely never use 'em but they're just so goddamn cool looking.

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  • OlivawOlivaw good name, isn't it? peach treesRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I have the hardcover guide for Twlight Princess, and I want to pick up the hardcover guides for both DS titles.

    I'll likely never use 'em but they're just so goddamn cool looking.

    The hardcover guide for Twilight Princess is a thing of beauty

    Leather bound, gold embossed on the cover and the edges of the pages, including a cloth map and nice quality paper with some fantastic artwork

    I haven't even beaten that game but I had to own that book

    Olivaw on
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  • Automatic JackAutomatic Jack Registered User
    edited July 2010
    Check out the Brainy Gamer's bookshelf (left hand column of page) if you're interested in more academic reading. He recently did an interview with the Extra Lives guy too, though I have yet to read it. Henry Jenkins has some good stuff as well. I read Rules of Play and it basically was like one continuous, fascinating headache; I'll probably go back to it once every year and measure my brain growth by how much more I can take in each time.

    I also read a few of the Halo books in high school without ever having played Halo. All I remember is one scene with Master Chief as a kid playing King of the Hill and knocking over the other children. I think he had a missing tooth or something, and brown hair and eyes? I dunno. They were largely incomprehensible.

    Anyone read the Alan Wake novel yet?

    Automatic Jack on
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  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Raph Koster's Theory of Fun is interesting, but maybe more for designers or parents than gamers. He breaks down (maybe a little too simply) the reasons behind wanting a challenging game.

    Willeth on
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  • VeganVegan Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I always see a plethora of Japanese art books at Comic Con but they're never discounted. Such a tease.

    Vegan on
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  • SmokeScreenSmokeScreen Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Somewhat along the same lines...

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    A novel about one man's life changing quest to find the impossibly rare (and made up for the novel) arcade cabinet Lucky Wander Boy, while weaving in facts, myths, and and misconceptions about videogames of all kinds. Sort of like a Fight Club but for the videogame crowd (but nowhere near as well written, obviously). Starts off fairly straight forward and gets more and more postmodern and bizarre as it reaches the end. Not for everybody, but I really enjoyed it.

    Here's an excerpt that both functions as an interesting short story and pretty much sums up the books mix of real videogames and odd sense of mysticism.

    SmokeScreen on
  • OlivawOlivaw good name, isn't it? peach treesRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Willeth wrote: »
    Raph Koster's Theory of Fun is interesting, but maybe more for designers or parents than gamers. He breaks down (maybe a little too simply) the reasons behind wanting a challenging game.

    I don't know why anyone would want to read a book about game design by Raph Koster after what happened to Star Wars Galaxies

    Olivaw on
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  • Sprite ColaSprite Cola Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Vegan wrote: »
    I always see a plethora of Japanese art books at Comic Con but they're never discounted. Such a tease.

    I used to buy them off Amazon Japan.

    Even with shipping it's cheaper.

    Sprite Cola on
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