Thursday, October 26, 2017

It seems fitting to read about the history and development of video games in graphic novel format.  The Comic Book Story of Video Games takes the reader through the foundation of the industry while also introducing the stories of the men who dreamed up the idea of animating games.

The book begins with the earliest inventions and experiments that would eventually allow the creation of moving images that users could control.  Developments such as running electricity through glass tubes to produce glowing light, using magnetic fields to control the light and the invention of television all helped to pave the way for video games.  World War II accelerated the scientific research and development into such areas as radar, also helping to further develop the groundwork upon which electronic gaming was built.

There are "spotlights" throughout the book highlighting the contributions that were made to the field by important figures.  The first mentioned is Alan Turing, the man who was able to create a machine to decode Nazi transmissions during WWII.  He is also credited with creating the first computer game which was based on chess.  Ralph Baer, a self-taught tinkerer, eventually came up with the first home video game console, which allowed two players to engage in a table-tennis like battle.  Atari's founder, Nolan Bushnell, saw opportunities and was able to capitalize on them by originally staffing his company with "bikers, hitchhikers, hippie stoners and unshaven layabouts."  Well, whatever works!  Atari's video game Pong was soon available for play in many retail establishments, but of course it didn't take long for people to realize that the home market would be much more lucrative.

The rise of video games in Japan is also explained, as well as how Steve Wozniak became involved in the industry. Steve Jobs doesn't come off very well in the book, with is first job in the business being scheduled for the overnight shift due to his "body odor" and negative attitude (allegedly). While many of the early figures were important to the development of video gaming, it wasn't until people who were fanatical games themselves became involved that the industry really took off.  Arcade games became popular until the "1983 gaming crash" nearly destroyed the industry.  Luckily, computer gaming and eventually consoles came along and saved video gaming for future generations!

The book has a lot of very interesting information and there is a great deal happening on every page.  Anyone who is interested at all in how video games became such an ingrained part of everyday life will enjoy reading this book.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of The Comic Book Story of Video Games from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review 

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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