A Brief History Of Video Games Review
Please note that a copy of the book was very kindly supplied for review.
A book about video games is nothing new. Whether you want it to talk about how to get into making games, writing about them or playing them to the best of your ability, books are out there to fulfil all of those purposes. However, many cater towards the video game veteran: seasoned players who know most of these things already and just want to consolidate their knowledge. Much like in Stanton's introduction where he writes that "games will be everywhere and everyone will be a player," by reading this book even those who don't consider themselves "gamers" can learn something about how the industry began and - more importantly - how it came forward from there.
But that's not all. As somebody who likes to think they know a little about the early history of video games (and where they went beyond that) I found myself thinking, "oh, I know what happens next!" fairly often, but I think somebody who knows nothing at all could easily jump in and have fun. Saying that, I also think that people - like myself, or (more likely) with more knowledge than I have - could read it and learn something from it which they can take away. That's something incredibly valuable, and the fact that its been done, and that a book is out there which can occupy that middle ground is impressive.
However, the fact I learnt something new every minute or so meant that those facts came in somewhat of a bombardment. While, for me at least, this didn't detract from the enjoyment of the book, it did mean that I felt the need to break little and often in order to digest the wealth of information served to me. That isn't necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. It isn't how the facts are presented, and in fact I don't think it's the fault of the writer at all. In fact, I think it's more testament to how the industry was evolving so quickly and changing from one thing to another so often. This almost makes the barrage of facts unavoidable in a history of the subject.
Something that I really loved in this book was that it didn't just catalogue the beginning of games. It goes on. On the front cover it says "From Atari to Xbox One". It's refreshing to have everything put into one book, and also means that facts from previous chapters come back later on, and that means it's very easy to see how it all ties together and how one thing affects the next, however indirectly that may be.
While I do love the book, and how it all works well together (it would be weird if history didn't, wouldn't it?) I do wish there was a little more evaluation. Obviously this would detract from the historical aspect, but - as someone who loves what the book is about - I wish it featured more opinion and told me why something was good or bad, rather than just delivering facts. However, perhaps that is a different book entirely.
Saying all that, I did really enjoy the book. It genuinely taught me something, and helped me to understand how the whole industry fits together. Knowing where things come from is very important, and I'm sure this book can help anyone understand that about the fastest growing industry that the world has ever seen.