75 books like Breakout

By David Sudnow,

Here are 75 books that Breakout fans have personally recommended if you like Breakout. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Link to the Past: Stories of Growing Up Gamer

Clark Nielsen Author Of Growing Up Gamer: A Video Game Memoir

From my list on reliving playing video games from your childhood.

Why am I passionate about this?

Video games have always been an important part of my life. I love playing games. I love talking about them. I love (trying) to make them. I love writing about them! Over the years, I’ve realized these various game consoles have been the backdrop to some very important milestones in my life. It’s been fun to go back and piece together which games helped me at which age. It’s been just as fun to explore this gaming relationship from the perspective of other authors/gamers. If you, too, grew up gaming, you’ll appreciate the books on this list.

Clark's book list on reliving playing video games from your childhood

Clark Nielsen Why did Clark love this book?

Of course, I have to recommend Davis’s book; we have similar titles! But in all seriousness, Davis takes a much different approach to the “gamer memoir” by focusing more on the games themselves. He reminisces about his favorite childhood games and/or games that were culturally important and does a great job highlighting what made them work (or not work) without letting modern-day feelings get in the way. Occasionally, Davis will tie the game into some real-world lesson he learned. It’s that aspect that I appreciate the most. I also try to reflect on certain games as being more than just “something fun at the time.”

By Brian J. N. Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Link to the Past as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In A Link to the Past: Stories of Growing Up Gamer, Brian Davis explores what it meant coming of age when video games went from something young people were expected to grow out of, to being a centrally crucial pillar of development to an entire generation. Starting in the halls of Maniac Mansion, and weaving a path through Skyrim’s majestic landscape, A Link to the Past follows the journey of one young Midwesterner’s search for identity, no matter the super villains, glitches, or threats of social alienation that stood in the way.


Book cover of Going Nowhere: A Life in Six Videogames

Clark Nielsen Author Of Growing Up Gamer: A Video Game Memoir

From my list on reliving playing video games from your childhood.

Why am I passionate about this?

Video games have always been an important part of my life. I love playing games. I love talking about them. I love (trying) to make them. I love writing about them! Over the years, I’ve realized these various game consoles have been the backdrop to some very important milestones in my life. It’s been fun to go back and piece together which games helped me at which age. It’s been just as fun to explore this gaming relationship from the perspective of other authors/gamers. If you, too, grew up gaming, you’ll appreciate the books on this list.

Clark's book list on reliving playing video games from your childhood

Clark Nielsen Why did Clark love this book?

This one’s an intentionally short read, fast-forwarding through Leith’s life at breakneck speed, only stopping to check in every few years to see what game he was into then. The whole thing feels like a strange fever dream or stream of consciousness, particularly in the first few chapters when his childhood memories are probably as fuzzy as the TV he played Planetoid on. Still, it’s a fascinating look at how certain games stick with you over the years. I have my own collection of games that don’t necessarily reflect my favorites of all time but certainly define key moments in my life.

By Sam Leith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Going Nowhere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Videogames are among the defining artforms of our age. They are variously adored and reviled, but their influence is felt everywhere. Every game is its own little universe – and hundreds of millions of us now spend part of our time living in those universes.
But what does it mean to play them? What does it feel like to be a member of the generation that grew up with them? Where do they take us, and what needs do they serve? In this short memoir, Sam Leith tells the story of his life through his relationship with games.
It’s a…


Book cover of Gamelife: A Memoir

Caleb J. Ross Author Of Suddenly I was a Shark! My Time with What Remains of Edith Finch

From my list on to defend your video game obsession to non-gamers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong video game obsessive. I think about video game worlds and my relationship with them in the ways most people think about family vacations to the beach or a trip with friends to Las Vegas. Every game I play is an opportunity to experience a new world, and a new culture, and to change myself along the way. Video games are a younger industry than either the music industry or the movie industry, but it’s more than 2.5x bigger than those two industries combined! There are reasons humans are so enamored by video games. The books on my list explore those reasons.

Caleb's book list on to defend your video game obsession to non-gamers

Caleb J. Ross Why did Caleb love this book?

Where David Sudnow’s Breakout: Pilgrim in the Microworld focused on the flamboyant poetry of gaming, Michael W. Clune’s Gamelife opts for minimalism.

Clune himself describes the book as a memoir about computer games, which is true, and that description alone warrants inclusion in my list. Why? Any topic that can be a lens through which to reflect on one’s own life is noteworthy.

Clune isn’t a game developer recounting a life spent developing games. Clune isn’t a games industry executive doling out business advice. Clune is a gamer with a childhood he’s able to better understand when filtered through video games.

Tell your non-gaming friends: video games are therapy!

By Michael W. Clune,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gamelife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In telling the story of his youth through seven computer games, critically acclaimed author Michael W. Clune (White Out) captures the part of childhood we live alone.

You have been awakened.

Floppy disk inserted, computer turned on, a whirring, and then this sentence, followed by a blinking cursor. So begins Suspended, the first computer game to obsess seven-year-old Michael, to worm into his head and change his sense of reality. Thirty years later he will write: "Computer games have taught me the things you can't learn from people."

Gamelife is the memoir of a childhood transformed by technology. Afternoons spent…


Book cover of You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

Clark Nielsen Author Of Growing Up Gamer: A Video Game Memoir

From my list on reliving playing video games from your childhood.

Why am I passionate about this?

Video games have always been an important part of my life. I love playing games. I love talking about them. I love (trying) to make them. I love writing about them! Over the years, I’ve realized these various game consoles have been the backdrop to some very important milestones in my life. It’s been fun to go back and piece together which games helped me at which age. It’s been just as fun to explore this gaming relationship from the perspective of other authors/gamers. If you, too, grew up gaming, you’ll appreciate the books on this list.

Clark's book list on reliving playing video games from your childhood

Clark Nielsen Why did Clark love this book?

Yes, this is technically a “celebrity memoir,” but Day is in a unique position of not only growing up in gaming culture but rising to fame because of it. While only two of the chapters in her book are about specific games she played, one of those games does become the basis for the show that launched her career. It’s interesting to read how she navigated the early days of YouTube and created and marketed the show with basically no budget. As someone who has frequently tried (and failed) to create game-related content of my own, it was nice to see what a self-made success story can look like.

By Felicia Day,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The instant New York Times bestseller from “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is a “relentlessly funny and surprisingly inspirational” (Forbes) memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to internet stardom, and embracing her weirdness to find her place in the world.

When Felicia Day was a girl, all she wanted was to connect with other kids (desperately). Growing up in the Deep South, where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons,” she looked online to find her tribe. The Internet was in its infancy and she became an early adopter at every stage…


Book cover of How to Do Things with Videogames

Caleb J. Ross Author Of Suddenly I was a Shark! My Time with What Remains of Edith Finch

From my list on to defend your video game obsession to non-gamers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong video game obsessive. I think about video game worlds and my relationship with them in the ways most people think about family vacations to the beach or a trip with friends to Las Vegas. Every game I play is an opportunity to experience a new world, and a new culture, and to change myself along the way. Video games are a younger industry than either the music industry or the movie industry, but it’s more than 2.5x bigger than those two industries combined! There are reasons humans are so enamored by video games. The books on my list explore those reasons.

Caleb's book list on to defend your video game obsession to non-gamers

Caleb J. Ross Why did Caleb love this book?

Despite the implications of the title, this book is not a how-to book about repurposing Nintendo game cartridges as drink coasters. It’s even better than that (and this is coming from someone who actually does use old, non-functioning game cartridges as drink coasters). 

How to Do Things with Videogames is a plea to non-gaming industries to embrace video games as tools to advance their own products and services. While video game mechanics and visuals have certainly matured since their introduction in the 1970s—and that is all quite interesting—Ian Bogost’s book isn’t interested in how humans have advanced video games but instead in how video games could advance humans.

I’ll give a specific example that has stuck with me since my first read of this book. Humans are great with spatial awareness. Video games have an amazing ability to leverage this capability for fun. But why not leverage this capability to…

By Ian Bogost,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Do Things with Videogames as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In recent years, computer games have moved from the margins of popular culture to its center. Reviews of new games and profiles of game designers now regularly appear in the New York Times and the New Yorker, and sales figures for games are reported alongside those of books, music, and movies. They are increasingly used for purposes other than entertainment, yet debates about videogames still fork along one of two paths: accusations of debasement through violence and isolation or defensive paeans to their potential as serious cultural works. In How to Do Things with Videogames, Ian Bogost contends that such…


Book cover of Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry

Caleb J. Ross Author Of Suddenly I was a Shark! My Time with What Remains of Edith Finch

From my list on to defend your video game obsession to non-gamers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong video game obsessive. I think about video game worlds and my relationship with them in the ways most people think about family vacations to the beach or a trip with friends to Las Vegas. Every game I play is an opportunity to experience a new world, and a new culture, and to change myself along the way. Video games are a younger industry than either the music industry or the movie industry, but it’s more than 2.5x bigger than those two industries combined! There are reasons humans are so enamored by video games. The books on my list explore those reasons.

Caleb's book list on to defend your video game obsession to non-gamers

Caleb J. Ross Why did Caleb love this book?

Sometimes, defending your video game obsession means acknowledging that the video game industry is flawed. It’s best not to avoid necessary conversations about the negative impacts that video games can have on families and on personal health.

But while it would be tempting to cite flawed studies about games as a precursor to violence (a sub-recommendation for more about such flawed studies would be The Gaming Mind: A New Psychology of Videogames and the Power of Play by Alexander Kriss), Jason Schreier’s book instead digs into the “industry” part of the video games industry to explore systemic problems like overwork, the lack of unionization, and incredible wealth inequality.

The video game industry is huge (like, really huge. Like, 2.5x the size of the movie and music industry combined huge). Its enormity, combined with its lack of regulation and oversight, makes for a difficult foundation on which to build a life.…

By Jason Schreier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Press Reset as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. From the bestselling author of Blood, Sweat, and Pixels comes the next definitive, behind-the-scenes account of the video game industry: how some of the past decade's most renowned studios fell apart-and the stories, both triumphant and tragic, of what happened next.

Jason Schreier's groundbreaking reporting has earned him a place among the preeminent investigative journalists covering the world of video games. In his eagerly anticipated, deeply researched new book, Schreier trains his investigative eye on the volatility of the video game industry and the resilience of the people who work in it.

The business…


Book cover of Getting Gamers: The Psychology of Video Games and Their Impact on the People who Play Them

Caleb J. Ross Author Of Suddenly I was a Shark! My Time with What Remains of Edith Finch

From my list on to defend your video game obsession to non-gamers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong video game obsessive. I think about video game worlds and my relationship with them in the ways most people think about family vacations to the beach or a trip with friends to Las Vegas. Every game I play is an opportunity to experience a new world, and a new culture, and to change myself along the way. Video games are a younger industry than either the music industry or the movie industry, but it’s more than 2.5x bigger than those two industries combined! There are reasons humans are so enamored by video games. The books on my list explore those reasons.

Caleb's book list on to defend your video game obsession to non-gamers

Caleb J. Ross Why did Caleb love this book?

Getting Gamers shows us that the science of video games is the science of human interaction. In fact, some game development studios staff teams of psychologists and researchers, and sometimes those teams use virtual spaces as testing environments for psychology theories.

How does physical appearance prime social interactions (ie, the Proteus Effect), for example? With the wealth of avatar customization options available to gamers, we can carefully articulate and test our assumptions of interactions in groups using MMOs (massive multiplayer online games).

Tell your non-gaming friends: video games remind us that we are human!

By Jamie Madigan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Getting Gamers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Video games are big business. They can be addicting. They are available almost anywhere you go and are appealing to people of all ages. They can eat up our time, cost us money, even kill our relationships. But it's not all bad! This book will show that rather than being a waste of time, video games can help us develop skills, make friends, succeed at work, form good habits, and be happy. Taking the time to learn what's happening in our heads as we play and shop allows us to approach games and gaming communities on our own terms and…


Book cover of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

Doug Walsh Author Of The Walkthrough: Insider Tales from a Life in Strategy Guides

From my list on the video game industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

Doug Walsh is the author of over one hundred officially licensed video game strategy guides for BradyGames and Prima Games. From Diablo to Zelda, his work covered nearly every major gaming franchise for two decades.

Doug's book list on the video game industry

Doug Walsh Why did Doug love this book?

This smart and at-times hilarious book takes serious, analytical, video game criticism and runs it through the meatgrinder of the gaming- and drug-addicted mind of an adult player. It is a memoir, a love story, and a guide to understanding why, as the title suggests, video games absolutely matter.

By Tom Bissell, Tom Bissell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Extra Lives as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Extra Lives, acclaimed writer and life-long video game enthusiast Tom Bissell takes the reader on an insightful and entertaining tour of the art and meaning of video games.
 
In just a few decades, video games have grown increasingly complex and sophisticated, and the companies that produce them are now among the most profitable in the entertainment industry. Yet few outside this world have thought deeply about how these games work, why they are so appealing, and what they are capable of artistically. Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is a milestone work about what might be the…


Book cover of Rockstar Games and American History: Promotional Materials and the Construction of Authenticity

John Wills Author Of Gamer Nation: Video Games and American Culture

From my list on video games and popular culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a university academic who writes and teaches on American popular culture. I’ve played video games all my life—I remember first playing Breakout and Boot Hill at the local arcade back in the late 1970s as a young child, and yes, I had an Atari VCS. Today, I write, teach, and exhibit work on the history of video games, especially how games depict and connect with the USA. I still play video games, probably too much, and my favorite console is the Sega Dreamcast.

John's book list on video games and popular culture

John Wills Why did John love this book?

This book is just out and reflects the latest scholarship in historical game studies by a new leading academic. Wright’s book tackles one of the biggest players in the video game industry, Rockstar Games, and seeks to understand how Rockstar plays with American history, culture, and our notions of authenticity. Essential reading. 

By Esther Wright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rockstar Games and American History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For two decades, Rockstar Games have been making games that interrogate and represent the idea of America, past and present. Commercially successful, fan-beloved, and a frequent source of media attention, Rockstar's franchises are positioned as not only game-changing, ground-breaking interventions in the games industry, but also as critical, cultural histories on America and its excesses.



But what does Rockstar's version of American history look like, and how is it communicated through critically acclaimed titles like Red Dead Redemption (2010) and L.A. Noire (2011)? By combining analysis of Rockstar's games and a range of official communications and promotional materials, this book…


Book cover of Love and Electronic Affection: A Design Primer

Kat Schrier Author Of We the Gamers: How Games Teach Ethics and Civics

From my list on why games might save humanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first realized the power of games when I won the Geography Bee in my elementary school. I had been playing Carmen Sandiego, which encouraged me to study maps and read almanacs. I started to see how games could motivate interest in all different topics. But I didn’t realize I could make games until I was a graduate student at MIT, and I made an augmented reality game to teach history. Since then I have been designing games to inspire connection, care, and curiosity. I am Associate Professor and Director of Games at Marist College, and I have designed media for organizations like the World Health Organization, Scholastic, and Nickelodeon.

Kat's book list on why games might save humanity

Kat Schrier Why did Kat love this book?

If we want to heal the world, we first need a little love. Some might not associate games with emotions, care, and love, but they couldn’t be more wrong. I think about all the virtual creatures, critters, characters, and real friends that I have connected with through games. Love and Electronic Affection provides a fantastic overview of love and affection in games like Dragon Age, Life is Strange, and Bioshock.

By Lindsay D. Grace,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love and Electronic Affection as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Love and Electronic Affection: A Design Primer brings together thought leadership in romance and affection games to explain the past, present, and possible future of affection play in games. The authors apply a combination of game analysis and design experience in affection play for both digital and analog games. The research and recommendations are intersectional in nature, considering how love and affection in games is a product of both player and designer age, race, class, gender, and more. The book combines game studies with game design to offer a foundation for incorporating affection into playable experiences.

The text is organized…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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