A History of Video Games in 64 Objects

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A History of Video Games in 64 Objects

History of Video Games in 64 Objects, A - Hardcover - USA.jpg

Hardcover - USA - 1st edition.

Author Various
Published 2018-05-29
Type Non-fiction
Genre Educational, History
Themes Computers, Electronics, Video Games
Age Group Adult

A History of Video Games in 64 Objects is a non-fiction book about the history of video games. It was published on 2018-05-29 and written by a team of writers on behalf of the World Video Game Hall of Fame and the Strong National Museum of Play. The title borrows from A History of the World in 100 Objects but instead covers 64 significant games, consoles, and various other video-game-related topics. The objects are presented in chronological order starting with the inspiration of video games from the 1940s, the first games to use video screens in the 1950s, the first commercialized video games in the 1970s, and then through the decades up until 2016. The physical book has a lot of great illustrations.

Personal

Own?Hardcover - USA - 1st edition.
Read?Audiobook read by Ray Chase.
Finished2023-12-20.

Always eager to expand my knowledge of video game history and culture, I read this book. After enjoying the audio book, I bought a physical copy.

Review

Overall:

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Good

  • The book is well-written by skilled authors. I was always eager to keep reading.
  • Nearly all of the 64 topics covered in the book are important aspects of video game history, and each is described in short digestible sections. While every chapter is independent, each is also put into context with the culture of gaming at the time. I enjoyed this style of writing.
  • The book is fully illustrated with many great pictures.

Bad

  • I'm sure the authors has a very difficult time distilling the entire history of video games into only 64 objects, and, for the most part, I agree with their choices, but, a few I don't think were nearly important enough, like Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen and That Dragon, Cancer. Also, a few were so derivative, they probably should have been relegated to a single chapter, like Colossal Cave Adventure, Zork, and Adventureland. Then there were games that were vastly overshadowed by their genre definers, like, there is a chapter for River Raid, but not Xevious.
  • Most things are described quite accurately, although I had a few quibbles:
    • The game Outlaw is described as having players try to out draw their opponent. But, the game doesn't really have any quick draw mechanics, it's just a free-for-all pistol combat.
    • The book suggests that there were reports of a 100 yen coin shortage in Japan after Space Invaders was released, but nobody has been able to find contemporary reports to prove this.
    • Missile Command is described as ending with a full-screen mushroom cloud, but it's really just a polygon that increases in size.
    • The introduction of the chapter on Tetris incorrectly says it was developed on a mainframe. Thankfully, the rest of the chapter correctly identifies it as a minicomputer.
    • Some of the stuff in the chapter on id Software is based on out-of-date information. Later books like Masters of Doom and Doom Guy correct a lot of misinformation from older sources.
  • The author of chapter on the Virtual Boy opines that the console failed because games are meant to be played with other people and spectators, which isn't possible with the Virtual Boy. As someone who spends 99% of his gaming time alone, I doubt that.
  • I wish the authors were listed, they deserve credit.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Media

Covers

Representation

I don't normally maintain specifics about representation in non-fiction, but the book has a chapter specifically for women in video games, and, the authors occasionally use she/her pronouns instead of the typical he/him in regard to hypothetical people, which is always nice. In the section on the Channel F, it talks about the contributions of Jerry Lawson, a pioneer black electrical engineer.

Links

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