In the depths of my past, my first salad days was as a video game journalist. I fell into it really. A lucky break. But just like my game playing ability, I was rubbish at it. Despite that I still love videogames. I’m also fascinated by its history. Oh what’s this? A graphic novel about the history of videogames? Two of my favourite things combined? Just how would this fail to please?
I picked this book when I saw it reviewed in The Guardian and it just Super Mario jumped at me. I also kinda knew in the back in my head that Hip Hop Family Tree was an epic fail of a pick last time I went for a non-fiction book for the gang. This was a bit of gamble, particularly as Tom doesn’t play videogames. I’d hoped that the medium might have given him some insight into the joys of videogames and that tastes are much more widely catered for these days.
Well… I was waaaay to optimistic 😅.
The others weren’t so interested in the history of gaming. A couple of them are also into games, but don’t really care that much for how these things came about. Well to an extent, because they’ve seen High Score on telly and it’s a pretty cool documentary. I think the words “worse than a TED Talk, more like a wikipedia page” were mentioned.
And I can see why, as it’s really dryly delivered. The cartoonish style divided opinion further: I didn’t mind it, Tom thought it was really “on-model” and professionally approached. Dan and Jake hated the marshmallow heads and pale palette.
Despite the shortcomings the other identified, I thoroughly enjoyed it! I loved the consistency in the art style so that jumping from one game to the next wasn’t jarring. I had no strong opinions on the look or colour myself, the delivery of content was a bit academic - reflected in the huge appendix.
But I liked the insights and also found a list of games to check out. Jake noted a few himself too.
I liked how the problems with racial stereotypes and the depiction of women were touched upon (the others complained it was a bit lightweight, but I feel the whole book was quite a whistle-stop and in keeping with that).
I also liked how the psychology of games was looked into.
Ultimately it made me want to play some games, which the others did too. Except for Tom.
4* I love games history and the thinking in some of this was fascinating.
2* Too wordy and not nicely coloured. Thanks but no thanks. Will still take something away from it.
2* Obvs a lot of work and like looking at it.
3* I don’t hate it. I think it has its place. It could have been worthwhile.