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Have you ever wondered how your favorite video game was made? Or maybe you’re looking for some design inspiration from one of your favorite game developers? Anyway, as much as we love to play video games, sometimes you want to know how the sausage is made. And one of the best ways to do that is to crack open a book on the production history of the video game industry.
From behind-the-scenes look at the production of iconic titles, to documents from the 1990s console wars and the musings of Nintendo’s former president, these are our favorite books about the video game industry.
The only caveat here is that art books don’t count. If you want to see some of our favorites you can find a list here.
Masters of Doom
While eager modders try to find a way we can play demise on an eReader, we bring you the next best thing. David Kushner’s Masters of Doom does exactly what it says on the tin. It follows the lives of John Carmack and John Romerofrom how they first met, to the founding of id Software and the release of a small first-person shooter called demise.
This book is a great piece of video game history and delves into the world of game development in the 1980s and 1990s. Kushner goes behind the scenes, profiling how the two Johns were able to combine their quirks to create the most important FPS game ever, the fame it brought id Software, and the rising tensions between the two developers.
Masters of Doom is a great reminder of how much of a great achievement demise was upon its initial release and how influential it is to this day.
If you’re old enough to remember the console war between Nintendo and Sega in the 1990s, chances are you’re in your early thirties and probably have at least one bad knee. The good news is, while you freeze that knee, you can relive those salad days Console Wars.
It’s weird to think that a little over 30 years ago, Sega was not only one of the most important players in the video game world, but was also seen as an equal to Nintendo. Blake J. Harris’ Console Wars describes the heated rivalry between the two video game companies in the 1990s, following Sega’s rise from an underdog studio to a major player, and its fall towards the end of the decade.
The book has been carefully researched and drawn from over 200 interviews with former Sega and Nintendo employees. Harris does take some dramatic liberty with events by writing embellished dialogue from the perspective of his subjects. Like Sega’s 32X, it’s an unfortunate add-on that feels more like a distraction than an improvement.
Blood, Sweat and Pixels
If you’ve read Kotaku long enough, Jason Schreier’s name probably sounds familiar to you. The former news editor of Kotaku US, Schreier’s book, Blood, Sweat and Pixels takes a deep dive into the production of some of the biggest video game releases of the past 20 years.
Blood, Sweat and Pixels travels in the world of game development, from the disastrous launch of Diablo 3 to how Yacht Club made Kick Knight and Eric Barone’s intense mission to create Stardew Valley all alone. Schreier even dives into the development of Star Wars 1313 and what happened to the game – and LucasArts – na Disney bought LucasFilm in 2012.
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to make a video game, this is the book for you. Taken from over 100 interviews with various game developers, Blood, sweat and pixels is a portrait of the good, the bad and the ugly of the industry. By the time you get it out, you can’t help but be amazed at the fact that video games are being made at all.
asks Iwata is a collection of insights and wisdom about video game making lately Satoru Iwata. Composed of the “Iwata Asks” columns, the former president and CEO of Nintendo offers its various philosophies on what it means to be a leader, what goes into game development, and the importance of design innovation.
As much as this book is about making video games, Iwata’s insights are the kind that can be applied to almost every facet of your life, with motivational quotes such as: “Through the trial and error process, all kinds of things that seem impossible become impossible at first.” can be a success”.
The book also features interviews with Shigeru Miyamoto and Shigesato Itoic, which were performed after Iwata passed. The two reminisce about their friend and how he influenced their lives as well as countless Nintendo fans.
Tetris is an incredibly fun take on your standard making-of book. Presented as a graphic novel, cartoonist Box Brown describes the development of the game of the same name, from its creation as a side project by Soviet software engineer Alexey Pajitnov to his journey from behind the Iron Curtain and the intense bidding war to secure his publishing rights.
brown used Tetris as a point of reference, to give us a snapshot of the video game industry from the mid to late 1980s, when it was a little wilder and more freewheeling compared to our current landscape. Although, in the case of Tetristhis is both a blessing and a curse, as the game’s popularity includes waves of imitators in the wake of its release.
Brown dives into why Tetris has remained such a popular title for more than three decades after its release – both in terms of sales and the psychological aspects of the game (aka the “Tetris effect“). Why do we keep playing it over and over and over again anyway?
Did we miss any titles that you think deserve a spot on our sagging bookshelves? Let us know in the comments.
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