The best video game books

9 authors have picked their favorite books about video games and why they recommend each book.

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Blood, Sweat, and Pixels

By Jason Schreier,

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

The Walkthrough: Insider Tales from a Life in Strategy Guides

By Doug Walsh,

Book cover of The Walkthrough: Insider Tales from a Life in Strategy Guides

What is my book about?

One part memoir and one part industry tell-all, The Walkthrough takes players on an entertaining march through gaming’s recent history, from the dawn of the PlayStation to the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Switch. Follow along as Walsh retraces his career and reveals how the books were made, what it was like writing guides to some of the industry’s most celebrated — and derided — titles, and why the biggest publishers of guidebooks are no longer around.

Walsh devotes entire chapters to many of gaming’s most popular franchises, including Tony Hawk’s Pro SkaterGears of War, and Diabloamong othersFrom inauspicious beginnings with Daikatana to authoring the books for the entire Bioshock trilogy, with plenty of highs, lows, and Warp Pipes along the way, Walsh delivers a rare treat to twenty-first-century gamers. The Walkthrough is sure to satisfy the curiosity of anyone who grew up with the works of BradyGames and Prima Games sprawled across their laps.

Extra Lives

By Tom Bissell,

Book cover of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

The Walkthrough: Insider Tales from a Life in Strategy Guides

By Doug Walsh,

Book cover of The Walkthrough: Insider Tales from a Life in Strategy Guides

What is my book about?

One part memoir and one part industry tell-all, The Walkthrough takes players on an entertaining march through gaming’s recent history, from the dawn of the PlayStation to the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Switch. Follow along as Walsh retraces his career and reveals how the books were made, what it was like writing guides to some of the industry’s most celebrated — and derided — titles, and why the biggest publishers of guidebooks are no longer around.

Walsh devotes entire chapters to many of gaming’s most popular franchises, including Tony Hawk’s Pro SkaterGears of War, and Diabloamong othersFrom inauspicious beginnings with Daikatana to authoring the books for the entire Bioshock trilogy, with plenty of highs, lows, and Warp Pipes along the way, Walsh delivers a rare treat to twenty-first-century gamers. The Walkthrough is sure to satisfy the curiosity of anyone who grew up with the works of BradyGames and Prima Games sprawled across their laps.

The Ultimate History of Video Games

By Steven L. Kent,

Book cover of The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon and Beyond . . . the Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World

Steve's sprawlingly wonderful book is not only an essential (and the first) oral history of video games' early years. The author takes you inside the minds of the (mainly) white men who pioneered a form of entertainment media that's now bigger than all forms of popular art combined. Just as it makes you think of the brilliance of these slick hucksters and brainy engineers who created a new form of culture, it makes you think that games would have benefitted greatly from more diversity back then - and now.


Who am I?

Author/journalist Harold Goldberg has written about video games since the 1990s. He is the author of All Your Base Are Belong to Us (How 50 Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture) and The League of Legends Experience. He is the founder of the non-profit New York Videogame Critics Circle and The New York Game Awards, both of which raise funds for essential classes and scholarships in New York City's underserved communities. As editor in chief of Sony Online Entertainment, he worked on Star Wars Galaxies and EverQuest. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Wired, and elsewhere. Goldberg also co-wrote My Life Among The Serial Killers with Dr. Helen Morrison. 


I wrote...

All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture

By Harold Goldberg,

Book cover of All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture

What is my book about?

Through the stories of gaming's greatest innovations and most beloved creations, journalist Harold Goldberg captures the creativity, controversy--and passion--behind the videogame's meteoric rise to the top of the pop-culture pantheon. Over the last fifty years, video games have grown from curiosities to fads to trends to one of the world's most popular forms of mass entertainment. But as the gaming industry grows in numerous directions and everyone talks about the advance of the moment, few explore and seek to understand the forces behind this profound evolution. How did we get from Space Invaders to Grand Theft Auto? How exactly did gaming become a $50 billion industry and a dominant pop culture form? What are the stories, the people, the innovations, and the fascinations behind this incredible growth?

Through 200 extensive interviews with gaming's greatest innovators, both its icons and those unfairly forgotten by history, All Your Base Are Belong To Us sets out to answer these questions, exposing the creativity, odd theories--and passion--behind the twenty-first century's fastest-growing medium. Two chapters that feature rare interviews Rockstar Games' Houser Brothers make the book a must-read.

Santa Lilio Sangre Ayami Kojima Artworks Art Book

By Ayami Kojima,

Book cover of Santa Lilio Sangre Ayami Kojima Artworks Art 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.

Who am I?

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.  


I wrote...

Manga Crash Course Fantasy: How to Draw Anime and Manga, Step by Step

By Mina Petrović,

Book cover of Manga Crash Course Fantasy: How to Draw Anime and Manga, Step by Step

What is my book about?

This book is an intermediate-level tutorial book on how to draw manga, but with a spin on creating your own fantasy stories, worlds and characters. Guided by a decade of experience from my own manga classroom, I managed to present all the most effective shortcuts to someone who wants to make their own stories, and even inserted games to make the process fun!

This book features all the basic-level lessons, so even if you never drew anything in your life, you can start drawing manga today.

Game Over, Pete Watson

By Joe Schreiber, Andy Rash (illustrator),

Book cover of Game Over, Pete Watson

This zany story about a gamer is packed full of laughs. Pete is looking forward to the release of a new game, but when he sells his dad’s old gaming console to afford the new game, things go really wrong, really fast. Let’s just say that was no gaming console he sold and now his dad is trapped in a video game. Pete has to save his dad, (and the world) by entering the game and winning! 

While I usually don’t like the whole getting-sucked-into-the-game trope, it totally works for this silly style of humor. Illustrations along the way don’t just break up the text, they add to the laughs.


Who am I?

I am a middle grade teacher who loves to read. Many of my students prefer to play video games. In fact, some of them have a real aversion to reading. Since I know reading ability is a huge factor in a student’s academic success, I’m always looking for great books to get students to put down their controllers and read. When I couldn’t find many, I was inspired to write the CROSS UPS TRILOGY. I’m confident that the books on this list will lure young gamers into their covers with gaming themes, humor, and relatable characters. 


I wrote...

Tournament Trouble

By Sylv Chiang, Connie Choi (illustrator),

Book cover of Tournament Trouble

What is my book about?

Cross Ups 1: Tournament Trouble is about Jaden, a twelve-year-old gamer who wants to prove he is the best at his favorite game, Cross Ups IV. Problem? His mom doesn’t know he plays this violent game – she’d never allow it. An invitation to compete at a tournament compels Jaden and his friends to hatch a plan to get him there. But his mom isn’t the only roadblock. Annoying siblings, bullies at school, and his best friend Cali’s family problems keep getting in the way.

The humorous, fast-paced novels in the Cross Ups Trilogy include illustrations by Connie Choi to keep reluctant readers engaged.

Love and Electronic Affection

By Lindsay D. Grace,

Book cover of Love and Electronic Affection: A Design Primer

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

We the Gamers: How Games Teach Ethics and Civics

By Kat Schrier,

Book cover of We the Gamers: How Games Teach Ethics and Civics

What is my book about?

The world is in crisis. Can games help us to solve the world’s biggest problems—such as global pandemics, climate change, and racial and gender inequality?

Ethics and civics have always mattered, but perhaps they matter now more than ever before. Games are starting to be seen as communities for civic debate and problem-solving. The book, We the Gamers explores how we engage in civics and ethics when we play games. The book shares examples of all different types of games, including Minecraft, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Fortnite, When Rivers Were Trails, Buffalo, Quandary, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. We the Gamers shows us how we might repair and remake our world through gaming. 

Video Games Save the World

By Heather E. Schwartz,

Book cover of Video Games Save the World

So games just may help solve the world’s problems. Let’s share the news with everyone, including kids! Video Games Save the World does just that. It uses kid-friendly language, examples, and illustrations of how gaming is helping us make positive change. For instance, it talks about the fantastic organization Games for Change, and all different types of games including indie games and VR games.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

We the Gamers: How Games Teach Ethics and Civics

By Kat Schrier,

Book cover of We the Gamers: How Games Teach Ethics and Civics

What is my book about?

The world is in crisis. Can games help us to solve the world’s biggest problems—such as global pandemics, climate change, and racial and gender inequality?

Ethics and civics have always mattered, but perhaps they matter now more than ever before. Games are starting to be seen as communities for civic debate and problem-solving. The book, We the Gamers explores how we engage in civics and ethics when we play games. The book shares examples of all different types of games, including Minecraft, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Fortnite, When Rivers Were Trails, Buffalo, Quandary, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. We the Gamers shows us how we might repair and remake our world through gaming. 

Supercade

By Van Burnham,

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

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!


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Gamer Nation: Video Games and American Culture

By John Wills,

Book cover of Gamer Nation: Video Games and American Culture

What is my book about?

Gamer Nation looks at how America and video games come together, and how video games have evolved into a dominant aspect of contemporary American culture. The book looks at a range of titles from blockbuster series such as CivilizationCall of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Red Dead Redemption through to offensive curiosities such as Custer's Revenge and 08.46, studying how video games over the last half-century have depicted American history and society, and reshaped our understanding of the USA. 

Persuasive Games

By Ian Bogost,

Book cover of Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Gamer Nation: Video Games and American Culture

By John Wills,

Book cover of Gamer Nation: Video Games and American Culture

What is my book about?

Gamer Nation looks at how America and video games come together, and how video games have evolved into a dominant aspect of contemporary American culture. The book looks at a range of titles from blockbuster series such as CivilizationCall of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Red Dead Redemption through to offensive curiosities such as Custer's Revenge and 08.46, studying how video games over the last half-century have depicted American history and society, and reshaped our understanding of the USA. 

Atari Age

By Michael Z. Newman,

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

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.  


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Gamer Nation: Video Games and American Culture

By John Wills,

Book cover of Gamer Nation: Video Games and American Culture

What is my book about?

Gamer Nation looks at how America and video games come together, and how video games have evolved into a dominant aspect of contemporary American culture. The book looks at a range of titles from blockbuster series such as CivilizationCall of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Red Dead Redemption through to offensive curiosities such as Custer's Revenge and 08.46, studying how video games over the last half-century have depicted American history and society, and reshaped our understanding of the USA. 

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