100 books like Gamelife

By Michael W. Clune,

Here are 100 books that Gamelife fans have personally recommended if you like Gamelife. 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 Breakout: Pilgrim in the Microworld

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?

David Sudnow’s Breakout: Pilgrim in the Microworld is perhaps the earliest account of a person’s obsession with a video game.

Sudnow’s diary-like approach to his relationship with the 1976 arcade game Breakout is captivating. It reads like improv jazz (which isn’t surprising considering Sudnow himself was an accomplished jazz pianist).

For example, here’s Sudnow describing the moments before starting the final phase of his longest game so far: “I feel the attempted seduction of the long lobbing interim, a calm before the storm, the action so laid back that I’m consciously elaborating a rhythm to be ready, set, go for a slam.”

Sudnow shows us that what might seem like simple bleeps and bloops to most people can instead be a life-affirming awakening to others. And how can something so powerful not warrant respect?

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

By David Sudnow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Just as the video game console market was about to crash into the New Mexico desert in 1983, musician and sociologist David Sudnow was unearthing the secrets of “eye, mind, and the essence of video skill” through an exploration of Atari's Breakout, one of the earliest hits of the arcade world.

Originally released under the title Pilgrim in the Microworld, Sudnow's groundbreaking longform criticism of a single game predates the rise of serious game studies by decades. While its earliest critics often scorned the idea of a serious book about an object of play, the book's modern readers remain fascinated…


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 The Splendid Things We Planned - A Family Portrait

Marlayna Glynn Author Of Overlay

From my list on surviving traumatic childhoods.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first memoir, Overlay, has been called “the very best teenage suicide prevention tool ever created” for which I am eternally grateful. I've been told that it's a miracle I survived my childhood at all, but I don't take credit or satisfaction in that statement. Instead, I've aspired to understand what it is that gives some of us the grit that allows us to power through the unfathomable. Voraciously reading similar stories from my fellow authors continues to inform me that we all have the power to push through the pain of a disadvantaged childhood. Whether it's an inner light, luck, fate, a higher power or some combination of some or all of the above, I don't know. I do know that the children like me who grew up to tell their story with the hope of helping others deserve a read. And sometimes, a good cry.

Marlayna's book list on surviving traumatic childhoods

Marlayna Glynn Why did Marlayna love this book?

No one wants to know a troubled, addicted family member isn't going to beat their demons. But knowing the ending at the beginning makes reading this difficult story possible. Bailey tells a relatable story that breaks down his brother's struggles and their effect upon the family in a way that those of us who share similar stories can relate to. The reader can see how and where things went wrong with Blake's brother Scott, while recognizing that there wasn't anything anyone could have done to prevent the ending.

By Blake Bailey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Splendid Things We Planned - A Family Portrait as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet the Baileys: Burck, a prosperous lawyer once voted the American Legion's "Citizen of the Year" in his tiny hometown of Vinita, Oklahoma; his wife Marlies, who longs to recapture her festive life in Greenwich Village as a pretty young German immigrant, fresh off the boat; their addled son Scott, who repeatedly crashes the family Porsche; and Blake, the younger son, trying to find a way through the storm. "You're gonna be just like me," a drunken Scott taunts him. "You're gonna be worse."

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Blake Bailey…


Book cover of The Bishop

Tayler Marie Brooks Author Of Tangled Suspects

From my list on keeping you up or to let your imagination roam.

Why am I passionate about this?

Unlike most authors, who only write one genre, I write mystery/suspense, thriller, fantasy, and dystopian. I love plotting and naming stories. I studied Criminal Justice & Legal Studies in college and absolutely loved it. I've also been reading these genres since I was little. I certainly never thought I’d be a writer, but the ideas kept coming so I guess the writing chose me. As a self-published writer, I get to make every decision concerning my books and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I write my books, design the covers, make the trailers, market the books, and everything else. I enjoy using my writing to point to the things I believe are important.

Tayler's book list on keeping you up or to let your imagination roam

Tayler Marie Brooks Why did Tayler love this book?

This series captured me from the very first page of the first book.

The Bishop isn’t the first book, but it was my favorite one from the series. Finally, my favorite serial killer has returned. (Yes, I pick my favorite killers in novels.) The paramedic is back but this time he’s left his career behind and teamed up with my newest favorite killer.

It quickly became clear that the killers weren’t really in love especially when the guy chains the girl to a dead body. However, it was a pretty gruesome yet intriguing scene. As a graduate who studied Criminal Justice & Legal Studies, I can attest, these books don’t disappoint. 

By Steven James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers's cutting-edge 21st-century geospatial investigative techniques and impeccable logic have helped him track some of the country's most grisly killers. But those skills are pushed to the limit in this new installment of the highly-acclaimed, award-winning The Bowers Files series.

This time it's a congressman's daughter who is found dead even as her killers launch a spree of perfect murders in the Northeast. With nothing to link the crimes to each other, Agent Bowers faces his most difficult case yet--even as his personal life begins to crumble around him.

Known for his intricately woven, masterfully plotted…


Book cover of Childhood

Catherine Cusset Author Of Life of David Hockney

From my list on by French women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a French novelist, the author of fifteen novels, many of which are memoirs, so I am considered a specialist of "autofiction" in France, of fiction written about oneself. But I also love writing about others, as you can see in my novel on David Hockney. Beauvoir, Sarraute and Ernaux were my models, Laurens and Appanah are my colleagues. Three of the books I picked would be called memoirs in the States, and the other two novels. In France, they are in the same category. All these women write beautifully about childhood and womanhood. I love their writing because it is both intimate and universal, full of emotion, but in a very sober and precise style. 

Catherine's book list on by French women

Catherine Cusset Why did Catherine love this book?

This book is so subtle and intelligent that it makes me smile at almost every line. Sarraute hates nothing more than clichés and the narcissistic self-indulgence of memoirs. In Childhood, the inner dialogue between the narrator and her memory allows her to avoid these pitfalls and resurrect the past with an amazing emotional accuracy. The questions asked by her critical self deepen her memory and lead to a delicate, vivid, and funny rendering of her childhood at the beginning of the twentieth century in Paris between her divorced Russian parents.

By Nathalie Sarraute, Barbara Wright (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As one of the leading proponents of the nouveau roman, Nathalie Sarraute is often remembered for her novels, including "The Golden Fruits", which earned her the Prix international de litterature in 1964. But her carefully crafted and evocative memoir "Childhood" may in fact be Sarraute's most accessible and emotionally open work. Written when the author was eighty-three years old, but dealing with only the first twelve years of her life, "Childhood" is constructed as a dialogue between Sarraute and her memory. Sarraute gently interrogates her interlocutor in search of her own intentions, more precise accuracy, and, indeed, the truth. Her…


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