Friday, December 30, 2016

Guy Friday: Game On!: Video Game History from Pong and Pac-Man to Mario, Minecraft, and More

Cover image for Game On!Hansen, Dustin. Game On!: Video Game History from Pong and Pac-Man to Mario, Minecraft, and More
November 22nd 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
Library Copy 

In a fun, conversational tone, Hansen discusses the major video games that shaped the industry and lead us to the present, where students daily rot their brain on their cell phones. From Pong to League of Legends, the development, history, public acceptance and every detail of each game anyone could ever want to know are discussed at great length, accompanied by informative sidebars about what else was going on in the world and with technology. Pictures and screen shots show the evolution as well, and top ten lists (villains, cheat codes, etc.) are scattered throughout.

This was a truly amazing book. It's shelved in the adult section of my local library, and I can understand why. It's a great resource for National History Day, and a book that truly devoted gamers will love, but it seems to be a firmly middle grade book to me. High schoolers would probably pick it up, but the tone is rather avuncular, and clearly addressing gamers who did not get Pong under the Christmas tree in 1975. (My brother played many of the games mentioned, although the only game I ever liked was Block Buster. Which I still kind of miss, to be honest!)

The format of this is quite nice, and I liked how the games were introduced by year. I did feel that there should have been some mention of Tamagotchis and RuneScape, because those were such a huge part of my own children's video experience, but they are not "serious" games. I had never heard of Zork, even though I would have been in high school when it was popular, and would have at least hung around people who might have been inclined to play it. 

Wow. Between the history of running shoes, and the history of video games, I feel about a thousand years old. In about 1979, we got a Tandy computer to hook up to our television. I spent about two weeks programming in two lines of music for it to play back, then decided I hated computers until about 1991, when I discovered the "killer app" of a spread sheet that would alphabetize a vocabulary list in English, and then realphabetize it according to the Latin in two seconds, as opposed to the days it would have taken to type it manually!

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