Thursday, October 04, 2007

Textbook Review: High Score!

This is part of the series on book reviews.
"High Score! the illustrated history of electronic games (2nd Edition)" (Rusel Demaria & Johnny Wilson)

I've used this book in my Game Industry Survey class, but it's not a textbook. It even says on the cover that it's a coffee table book for game geeks, and that's exactly what it is: a trip down the memory lane of the game industry, in full color, featuring much box art, screenshots and developer photos. The authors give a very candid look at the industry, talking not just about the games but also the developers: what it was like to work at Atari in the early days, for example. The writing style is conversational, not academic, making it an easy read (not to mention that the subject material will be interesting to most student game developers).

This book has two glaring weaknesses, and neither is the fault of the authors. The first is that it was published in 2004; the current generation of consoles did not exist yet, nor did World of Warcraft, so there is a period where the information just stops. Second, the book is unfortunately out of print, which makes it impossible to use as a required text. (Luckily, it can still be found used on Amazon and the like, as of the time of this posting.)

Students: If you're a game geek, you'll probably enjoy reading this book anyway. The fact that you'll actually get a great sense of the history of the industry (which will help you appear serious when you start applying for jobs) is purely accidental.

Instructors: If you teach a course about the history of the game industry, this is a great supplement. Being out of print means it's not required, but you might at least pick up a copy for yourself to supplement your lecture material, and suggest that interested students find their own copy for out-of-class pleasure reading.

Professionals: This is more of a game geek book, so it won't exactly help you make better games. You might like to pick it up for fun, or not, depending on your personal taste in books.

1 comment:

BB said...

I talked with one of the authors of this book at the recent SiegeCon in Atlanta. They're currently looking for a new publisher, so I have my fingers crossed this book will be updated and re-released. There's a sincere need for something like this.