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10 Awesome Books for Video Game Enthusiasts

This week we’ve gathered for you a list of interesting books on the video game history and such game titles as Portal 2, Mass Effect, Minecraft, and others.

This week we’ve gathered for you a list of interesting books on the video game history in general (especially retro arcades) and such game titles as Portal 2, Mass Effect, Prince of Persia, Minecraft and others. Don’t forget to leave us your feedback and recommendations. Enjoy!

The Developer Journals by Jordan Mechner

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Jordan Mechner started keeping a journal in college and continued it for over 10 years. As a result, two books The Making of Prince of Persia and The Making of Karateka appeared. According to the author, the journals are a raw, present-tense record of his journey from the parents’ basement to the forefront of the rapidly-evolving video game industry. They document the struggles, steps, and missteps that brought Karateka and Prince of Persia into being and, ultimately, into the homes of millions of people worldwide. They cover the years 1982-1993 when Apple II was released and became a highly successful mass-market product (both games were originally created for these home computers).

Get the books here:

Jordan Mechner is an American a best-selling author and video game designer who programmed such popular games as Prince of Persia, Karateka, and The Last Express. He was the first game creator who turned into a screenwriter participating in the movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time production. Prince of Persia and Karateka were initially programmed for Apple II and later on remade as modern games with Mechner’s involvement.

Jordan Mechner is an American a best-selling author and video game designer who programmed such popular games as Prince of Persia, Karateka, and The Last Express. He was the first game creator who turned into a screenwriter participating in the movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time production. Prince of Persia and Karateka were initially programmed for Apple II and later on remade as modern games with Mechner’s involvement.

Make sure to also check great graphic novels by J. Mechner:

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No doubt that it’s rather challenging to create a video game that will be warmly accepted by the players and receive a warm spot in the charts of the bestsellers. The book Gamers at Work reveals the challenges, entertaining life stories and lessons learned by the game developers and publishers who once entered the industry rivalry. 18 industry leaders from EA, Atari, Bethesda, Naughty Dog, Insomniac Games and other studios will tell you their strategy and management tips: how they play the odds, seize opportunities, make necessary sacrifices and finally transform small startups into great businesses. And who knows, – maybe it will help you to push your own project forward and gain success?

Morgan Ramsay is the founder of four startups and the author of two bestselling books (Gamers at Work and Online Game Pioneers at Work). For nine years he was Founder, President & CEO at Entertainment Media Council, the association for the business leaders of the video game industry that exist to advance the business. Morgan Ramsay was also the Founder, Managing Director & Chief Brand Architect at Heretic, leading brand development and communications for small business and Fortune Global 500 clients. Right now he works at his most recent project Ramsay Industries building Augmented Reality solutions for private, corporate, and national security.

Other books by M. Ramsay you may be interested in:

  • Online Game Pioneers at Work (the book is devoted to the same topic and includes 15 interviews with the founders of entertainment software companies)

It’s Behind You: The Making of a Computer Game by Bob Pape

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An absolutely free book devoted to the old video game R-Type that Bob Pape wrote back in 1988 for  Clive Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum home computer launched in April 1982. The machine soon became iconic, over nine thousand commercial games were written for it, and Bob Pape is among the community who made a contribution. R-Type was a home computer port of an arcade game that people seemed to like. Later on, the author started putting down the notes about the early game years and eventually, the notes turned into the book. It’s Behind You is separated into three parts: a pre-history of some of Bob’s early attempts at programming, a short section on his first published game (a conversion of the Bally Midway arcade game Rampage) and R-Type – its development and what happened to it after publishing. Anyone who shares the passion for old computer games may find the story of R-Type quite interesting as there are not so many examples of documenting a similar experience. 

The book is available in PDF, TAR and Kindle editions.

Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game that Changed Everything by Daniel Goldberg & Linus Larsson

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The book unfolds how Markus “Notch” Persson, the creator of Minecraft, turned from an unknown computer programmer to a multi-millionaire international video game icon. You will learn about Notch’s life, old school desk filled with Lego, the first computer and, more importantly, growing up in an unhealthy environment of drug abuse and family conflict. If you could never imagine the creator of Minecraft on the borderline of being a seeming misfit and creative madman, you may certainly find the story interesting.

Read the excerpt from the book published at WIRED here:

Markus “Notch” Persson is a Swedish video game programmer and designer, best known for founding the video game company Mojang and releasing the sandbox video game Minecraft in 2011. Since the release, the game became one of the most popular projects discussed and played by millions of people, and Markus Persson became a key figure in the video game industry. 

Markus “Notch” Persson

Linus Larsson and Daniel Goldberg are best-known Swedish writers who cover such topics as new technology and the internet. They have been published and quoted in the major newspapers and digital magazines such as Washington Post, American Computer WorldNew York TimesSydney Morning Herald and others. Minecraft is their bestselling English language debut which is quite predictably considering the game popularity scale.

My Loser Phase: Tales of Video Game Retail 1992-1997 by Hugues Johnson

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My Loser Phase: Tales of Video Game Retail from the perspective of a clerk from a retail video game store (Hugues Johnson) looks back at the video game industry during years 1992-1997: from the Sega CD launch to the rise of the Sony PlayStation, in-between events, entertaining stories about customers and more. The readers review the book as a great read that brings back memories and tells a relatable story of the loser phase that can happen to anyone. The book should be a pleasant read for those who have a nostalgia for the 90s.

Hugues Johnson is now a computer programmer and a software architect with two favorite hobbies: programming (since childhood) and collecting video games. In recent years he has developed a passion for gathering games from 1984-1996 that appeals to the nostalgic nature and often spends free time in the summer garage sales in search of new treasure.

You may also find interesting his Retro League PodcastRetail Clerk ’89 (a personal project to learn Sega Genesis programming) and multiple articles on the video games.

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Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America is a story behind the Nintendo games that became an inseparable part of our lives. You will discover how a Japanese trading card company on the brink of failure managed to dominate the competitive industry of video games. 

When in 1981 Nintendo (a Japanese trading card company on the brink of failure back then) was stuck in business with two thousand unsold arcade cabinets purchased for an unlucky project, they found a way out. Shigeru Miyamoto designed a new game for the unsold cabinets with a small jumping man and an angry gorilla. Guessed the characters? Donkey Kong was a turning point in Nintendo career bringing in $180 million and eventually leading to the creation of Super Mario. Learn the full story of the unsuccessful business managing to dominate the competitive industry of video games with Jeff Ryan’s book.

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Blizzard Entertainment started as two separate companies and became a multi-billion-dollar video game empire. based on the heavy research and numerous interviews, the book will tell you about the origin of Blizzard North, a studio built by and for gamers, and Blizzard Entertainment, led by designers. Of course, Diablo is in the center of the whole story as a game that both made a vast contribution to the video game history and brought the two halves of the future corporation together.

David L. Craddock

According to David Craddocks website, he writes short and long fiction, non-fiction, and grocery lists. Stay Awhile and Listen became a hugely successful work taking the highest spot on Amazon’s page soon after its release. Apart from the story about Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard North, he published several more books that gamedev fans may definitely find interesting:


Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age 1971-1984 by Van Burnham

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Supercade pays tribute to the Golden age of the history of computer science, technology, and video game culture highlighted by Pong, Pac-Man, Spacewar, Zaxxon, Atari, Coleco and Mattel and many more well-known names and titles. The readers review Supercade as an excellent arcade history book for anyone who remembers or wants to learn more about the arcades and home video game units of the 1970s and 1980s, a book about classic era of video games. Even though it doesn’t fully base on the detailed historical data, Supercade is a great review of the classic era of video games.

Van Burnham is a former production director and contributing editor for Wired magazine. She is currently curating Arcade Wasteland

The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3 by Geoff Keighley

If you have ever been a fan of Mass Effect 3, this short e-book may be interesting for you. As the readers noted, it does not give a full insight into the game series and the technical side, however, shows how key people from BioWare lived and developed the three Mass Effect games. After all, behind every video game, there are unnoticed talented folks who deserve a light to be shed on.

An important note: the e-book does not contain the imagery available on iPad and PC/Mac versions. If you would like to get another version of the book, you can find it on iTunes or the website me3finalhours.com.

The Final Hours of Portal 2 by Geoff Keighley

The book is reported by the readers as a journalistic view of Valve during the development of Portal 2. For this story, Geoff Keighley was given a fly on the wall access to the Valve office, and he documented how the innovative company worked during a huge project. The book is a must-read for the keen fans of the Portal series who want to learn the background information, challenges, solutions and ideas behind the incredible game. 

Again, be aware that the Kindle version does not include as many photos and video materials as in the iPad version. 

Geoff Keighley is a leading media figure in the video game industry who participates in various events from live coverage of E3 and Comic-Con for Spike TV and G4 to producing events like The Game Awards and documenting the gamedev experience behind such games as Portal 2, Mass Effect 3, Tomb Raider, and Titanfall.


This next test involves the Aperture Science Video Game Enthusiast Faith Plate. It was part of an initiative to investigate how well test subjects could focus on work when they were provided with a high-quality book list. Results were highly informative: they could not. Good luck!

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