75 books like Homo Ludens

By Johan Huizinga,

Here are 75 books that Homo Ludens fans have personally recommended if you like Homo Ludens. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age 1971-1984

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?

I love this book. It’s an exquisite and beautiful coffee table title by Van Burnham, but that description really doesn’t do it justice. You can dip in and out of some wonderful features that chart the history of video games written by academics and other experts in the field. It is totally accessible and fun and the artwork is fantastic. Rejoice in old pixel video games you remember or have never heard of. The second volume is due out imminently and is totally brilliant. Buy both and enjoy!

By Van Burnham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gloriously illustrated history of the videogame and its legacy for both our mindscapes and video technology.

It was a time when technology was king, status was determined by your high score, and videogames were blitzing the world... From Pong to Pac-Man, Asteroids to Zaxxon—more than fifty million people around the world have come of age within the electronic flux of videogames, their subconscious forever etched with images projected from arcade and home videogame systems.

From the first interactive blips of electronic light at Brookhaven National Labs and the creation of Spacewar! at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; to the…


Book cover of Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames

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?

Persuasive Games is about how games persuade you, of ideas, what to buy, how to vote, how to live and more. It is a brilliantly inventive title from an established Game Studies scholar with a knack for original thought. Bogost brings in all kinds of little-known games to highlight his themes, and for me, it is just one of those books that you come back to for ideas and inspiration.

By Ian Bogost,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An exploration of the way videogames mount arguments and make expressive statements about the world that analyzes their unique persuasive power in terms of their computational properties.

Videogames are an expressive medium, and a persuasive medium; they represent how real and imagined systems work, and they invite players to interact with those systems and form judgments about them. In this innovative analysis, Ian Bogost examines the way videogames mount arguments and influence players. Drawing on the 2,500-year history of rhetoric, the study of persuasive expression, Bogost analyzes rhetoric's unique function in software in general and videogames in particular. The field…


Book cover of Atari Age: The Emergence of Video Games in America

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?

Atari Age is a wonderful title with possibly the best book cover ever (for any retro games aficionado anyhow!). Newman researches with skill the advent of video games in the United States, looking at how people became gamers, and exploring life in the arcades, and playing Atari VCSs for the first time at home. It’s a seriously good history book.  

By Michael Z. Newman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The cultural contradictions of early video games: a medium for family fun (but mainly for middle-class boys), an improvement over pinball and television (but possibly harmful).

Beginning with the release of the Magnavox Odyssey and Pong in 1972, video games, whether played in arcades and taverns or in family rec rooms, became part of popular culture, like television. In fact, video games were sometimes seen as an improvement on television because they spurred participation rather than passivity. These “space-age pinball machines” gave coin-operated games a high-tech and more respectable profile. In Atari Age, Michael Newman charts the emergence of video…


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 Santa Lilio Sangre Ayami Kojima Artworks Art Book

Mina Petrović Author Of Manga Crash Course Fantasy: How to Draw Anime and Manga, Step by Step

From my list on inspiring manga art.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a long-time manga teacher and a pop-culture researcher, as well as a comic illustrator and a Youtuber, presenting under the "Mistiqarts" pseudonym. Since manga was something that inspired me early on to dedicate my life to the art style and pop culture, I was constantly looking for new ways to bring this lifestyle and art to other people interested in drawing manga.  

Mina's book list on inspiring manga art

Mina Petrović Why did Mina love this book?

Ayami Kojima has held my heart for as long as I was an artist. Her visual style is something anyone can recognize, and the aftershock of knowing that this artist defined an entire video game industry aesthetic made me love her work even more. I managed to find only pieces of this book online until I was able to finally afford this super rare book filled with her hyper-detailed oil paintings.

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 The Official Nintendo Player's Guide NES 1987

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?

Arguably, the very first strategy guide for the North American market. This compendium covered 90 titles for the N.E.S., including maps and mini-guides for 30 of the most popular games. As a twelve-year-old boy, this book was one of my prized possessions … and continues to be a source of fond memories and inspiration.

By Nintendo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Official Nintendo Player's Guide NES 1987 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times top 10 bestseller

With a foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales.

'A stunningly moving book about the power of hope and love to overcome the very worst of mankind' - Piers Morgan

When Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert was liberated in 1945, a Jewish-American soldier gave her a banknote on which he'd written 'Good luck and happiness'. And when her great-grandson, Dov, decided to use social media to track down the family of the GI, 96-year-old Lily found herself making headlines round the world. Lily had promised herself that if she survived Auschwitz she would tell everyone…


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 Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made

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?

Longtime games journalist, Jason Schreier, takes readers within the bowels of gaming’s most celebrated studios to reveal the fascinating, yet often cringe-inducing conditions in which modern games are made. Well-researched and fascinating to read, with individual chapters devoted to many of gaming’s most recent bestsellers.

By Jason Schreier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You've got your dream job--making video games. You have a great project, great designs, and clever controls. One morning, you get a call from your producer. Turns out that wall-jumping trick won't work because the artists don't have time to design a separate animation just for the plumber to move that way. Also, your lead designer keeps micromanaging the programmers, which is driving them crazy. Your E3 demo is due in two weeks, and you know there's no way you can get it done in less than four. You'll have to cut out some of the game's biggest features just…


Book cover of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Abraham Chang Author Of 888 Love and the Divine Burden of Numbers

From my list on incorporating pop culture in unexpected ways.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a publishing professional for over 20 years, I’ve worked in a variety of jobs and positions with some of the biggest pop culture creators and brands. Just before the pandemic, I finally took time to invest in myself as a writer and set out to combine my lifelong passions for film, TV, music, video games, and books–with my skills as an award-winning poet–to write my debut novel, from my “certain point of view” as a first-generation Asian American. The books on my list here are from some of the authors that I admire–who are also “one of us”: the bookworms, the pop culture geeks, the hopeless romantics. 

Abraham's book list on incorporating pop culture in unexpected ways

Abraham Chang Why did Abraham love this book?

I came to this book late. My wife is the real reader in the family, but she’s also a sports fan and a quiet indie rock fan. Suffice it to say, our tastes vary widely and wildly–with me being the more gothmetalcomicbooknerd of the pair. But she told me that this might be a book for me, and it reminded her of my writing.

I was hooked within the first ten pages. You had me at that first Oregon Trail reference! And video games and Shakespeare and Dickinson? The serotonin triggers were firing in rapid succession. There is enough praise and recommendations out in the world for Zevin’s book–I’m just raising my hand and waving to a kindred spirit that I imagine I might see across the way at Hall H one day. 

By Gabrielle Zevin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

* AMAZON'S #1 BOOK OF 2022 *

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow takes us on a dazzling imaginative quest, examining identity, creativity and our need to connect.

This is not a romance, but it is about love.

'I just love this book and I hope you love it too' JOHN GREEN, TikTok

Sam and Sadie meet in a hospital in 1987. Sadie is visiting her sister, Sam is recovering from a car crash. The days and months are long there, but playing together brings joy, escape, fierce competition -- and a special friendship. Then all too soon that time is…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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