I Wanna be Literated #198

I Wanna be Literated #198

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Friday, 14 December 2018
BOOKS

A History of Video Games in 64 Objects
by World Video Game Hall of Fame

I used to be addicted to video games and totally immersed in the culture. I wasn’t much of a reader growing up, but when I did, it would be video game magazines. I would religiously collect issues of Electronic Gaming Monthly and all its offshoots, and my friends and I would trade issues, comparing reviews and features and get excited about what games we would spend our allowances on or ask our parents for Christmas. I held the belief (and still do) that video games can change someone’s life for the better. I always think of Final Fantasy 7 and how it instilled the idea in me that a story could be as important (if not more) than gameplay. It also taught me patience and perseverance: something that’s taught me to get through many boring books in my life.

I was a Nintendo NES kid, then Sega Genesis, and progressed to the Playstation, then Playstation 2. But something happened when I got the PS2, and the best way I can describe it is that life happened to me. Video Games were evolving and I wasn’t into the direction they were headed. They seem to be getting more violent (and not in a cartoonish Mortal Kombat way), less innovative, less original, and very first-person-shooter heavy. With Halo’s rise my interest also waned. I found my EGM magazines piling up as I would forget about them, and soon realized that I was reading about games I didn’t care about and was never going to buy. It was time to start a new chapter in my life. But video games and Street Fighter remain thoroughly embedded in my DNA and you can bet I visited more than one arcade while I was in Japan.

A History of Video Games in 64 Objects is more than a coffee book but not exactly a full-blown book. It’s too visually-heavy for that, but then again video games were always about the graphics, so why not have that here as well. It’s also deceptively dense, and does a wonderful job of covering the beginnings of video games, from pinball machines, to games that have made us contemplate our mortalities and deal with grief. Expertly put together by the Strong Video Game museum, this book has very wordy and in depth articles on the important games, puts them in historical perspective and gives readers an inside look on how they got made. Some favorites are not here (like Contra, or Castlevania), and some entries are downright perplexing (like the train conductor game), but the trend can be seen: video games have gone from fringe culture to the mainstream and have continues to build on the foundation of their predecessors.

It’s a hefty beautiful book that can just as easily tell the story of the growth of video games as it can offer casual gamers the highlights to their favorite games.

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