THE CRPG BOOK, from the UK’s Bitmap Books, is the culmination of years of work by over a hundred contributors. It’s one of the most comprehensive histories of CRPGs ever written, and features in-depth review-style writeups of over 400 games, along with essays on the ancient history of role-playing games (going all the way back to the Prussian Empire), the early days of MUDs (multi-user dungeons, the earliest online games), the archaic but impressive PLATO computer system, and the importance of paper manuals and hand-drawn maps.
AMONG ALL THE games I’ve played over the past decade, Skyrim holds a special place. I’ve probably spent longer talking to Belethor, the smarmy but conveniently-placed Whiterun merchant, than I have playing many other titles from start to finish in their entirety. I’ve quested for hours to win the favor of a lone companion for the sole purpose of having someone to help carry my unwieldy piles of stuff – an apt if depressing analogy for real-world relationships.
CLOCKING IN AT 536 pages, NES/Famicom: A Visual Compendium offers a wealth of retro goodness for die-hard gamers, nostalgia seekers, and pixel-art fans alike. In addition to its eye-popping visuals, the book includes features on major developers like Konami and Capcom, extensive box art, interviews with developers from both Japan and the west, and fan tributes both written and visual.
GROWING UP, I had a closer-than-usual relationship with Atari’s games: with a close family member who worked at the then-young Silicon Valley company, I had access to dozens of games, sometimes even in pre-release builds. With most of the games I played existing only on floppy disks, this mind-bending cover art (not to mention any sort of packaging, background info, or instruction manual) was totally absent from the experience. This meant contending not only with the games’ built-in learning curves, but also figuring out the frequently bizarre lore and background stories of the games only through their totemic, rudimentary pixel art.
GAME ON IS A massive exhibition spanning the entire history of videogames, from Tennis for Two to home consoles, and from massive arcade cabinets to VR headsets. Originally curated by the Barbican Centre, the exhibition came to Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Spring 2016.