The Video Game History Book List is a chronological list of books in physical, digital, and webpage format which aspiring game researchers can use to find reading material related to the development and business of video games. More information on the list is available at the bottom of this page.
Gametronics Proceedings (1977) [Archive] A collection of papers and transcripts presented by attendees of the Gametronics conference in January of 1977. Discusses then current market trends, history, and the business aspects of game creation. Attendess include Nolan Bushnell, Ralph Baer, Chuck Peddle, David Chandler, and organizer Jerry Eimbinder.
How to Design and Build Your Own Custom TV Games (1978) Technical manual describing the electronic design of a video game.
Video Games (1982) [Archive] Condensed summary of major trends in video games. Includes a few sections on designers, public view of video games, and the hottest general video games products circa late 1982.
Video Fever Entertainment? Education? or Addiction? (1982) [Archive] Discussion on the negative effects of video games upon the youth of America. Profiles several subjects to see how video games disrupt their daily lives as well as speaking about the way designers compel players to play.
Secrets of the Video Game Superstars (1982) Overview of video games and their creators. Includes some interviews.
Electronic Games: A First Book (1982) A product catalog which includes information on the creation of games. Also provides a list of major suppliers for software and hardware as well as magazines.
Winners’ Book of Video Games (1982) [Archive] Majority strategy guide for arcade and home games with narrative history material. Discussions of several games are interspersed with interviews by the creators. Later chapters tackle many various video game subjects.
Invasion of the Space Invaders (1982) Cultural book discussing the authors perception of the video game craze.
Screen Play: The Story of Video Games (1983) [Archive] History book discussing the technology, creation, and place of video games in society. Features several interviews including Nolan Bushnell and Ralph Baer along with many photographs.
Software Strategies: The Home Computer and Videogame Marketplace (1983) Market analysis of the computer and console industries.
Inventing the Adventure Game: The Design of Adventure and Rocky’s Boots (1984, unreleased) Memoir detailing Warren Robinett’s creation of the console-centric Adventure for the Atari VCS and Rocky’s Boots for the Apple II. Only available in webpage format.
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (1984) [Archive] Narrative history of the early development of computers and technology, including games. Large sections of the book discuss Spacewar and Sierra On-Line.
What to Do When Your Mom or Dad Says “Don’t Overdo With Video Games!” (1984) Cultural study and guide on the affect of video games on child psychology.
The Art of Computer Game Design (1984) A study into the theory behind game design wirtten by Chris Crawford.
Software People (1985) [Archive] Narrative history of the computer software industry, games and productivity. Discusses the early foundation of companies like Microsoft, Broderbund. Sirius Software, Hudson Soft, ASCII Corporation, and Personal Software.
The Secret of Nintendo (任天堂の秘密) (1986) [No information currently available]
The Secret of the Nintendo Commercial Code: How Did We Capture the “Hearts of Children”? (任天堂商法の秘密―いかにして”子ども心”を掴んだか) (1986) [No information currently available]
Video Games – The Complete Book of Televisual Games (テレビゲーム―電視遊戯大全) (1988) [No information currently available]
Famicom Syndrome (ファミコン・シンドローム) (1989) [No information currently available]
All of Sim City Revealed by Will Wright (ウィル・ライトが明かすシムシティーのすべて) (1990) [No information currently available]
Nintendo’s Grand Strategy: Success Myth in the Semiconductor Era (任天堂大戦略―半導体時代のサクセス神話) (1990) [No information currently available]
Computer Game Design Textbook (コンピュータゲームデザイン教本) (1990) [No information currently available]
Bludiště Počítačových Her (1990) Academic examination of computer game culture.
Super Famicom: The Intrigue of Nintendo – Light and Shadow of an Enterprise that Surpassed Matsushita and Sony (スーパーファミコン 任天堂の陰謀―ソニー・松下を越えた世界企業の光と影) (1991) [Archive] Business examination of Nintendo at the beginning of the 1990s in Japan. Includes small narrative portions.
Video Kids: Making Sense of Nintendo (1991) Examination of the effects of playing video games on child psychology.
Virtual Reality (1991) A history of VR and its applications to the point of publication.
The Secret of Nintendo/Gulliver’s Law (任天堂・ガリバー商法の秘密) (1991) [No information currently available]
Sega: Kingdom of Games (セガ・ゲームの王国) (1992) Business examination of the rise of Sega.
Sega v Nintendo: The Multimedia War’s Future (ソニーvs.任天堂マルチメディア戦争の内幕―陰謀と裏切りに満ちたその裏側) (1993) [Archive] A business book detailing the competition between the two Japanese game makers. Includes narrative portions on the backgrounds of the executives as well as perspectives from the major third party developers in Japan.
The Day Sony Gets Eaten by Nintendo (ソニーが任天堂に食われる日―ソニー、松下を利益で抜いた任天堂と世界のソニーの虚々実々戦) (1993) [No information currently available]
40 Years of Playmaking (40th History of Taito Corporation 遊びづくり四十年のあゆみ) (1993) Narrative history celebrating the 40th anniversary of Taito Corporation. Includes photographs and information on the entire life of founder Mikhail Kogan.
Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered The World Two Editions (1993/1998) [Archive] Narrative history of Nintendo from its beginnings to the early 1990s. Structured around in depth interviews with the top executives in both Japan and the United States.
Playing with Power in Movies, Television, and Video Games: From Muppet Babies to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1993) Culutral book examining the effect of early 1990s pop culture on children, including video games.
Nintendo is in Danger (任天堂が危ない) (1993) [No information currently available]
The Collapse of the “Drakue” and “Nobunaga” Software Industry – What is the Myth!? (「ドラクエ」「信長」ソフト産業の崩壊―神話の正体は!?) (1993) [No information currently available]
I don’t know if my son is going to be okay – Video game “poison” is all the rage (うちの子、大丈夫かな―テレビゲーム“毒”が大流行) (1993) [No information currently available]
Computer Games: Who is the Post Famicom Champion (コンピューターゲーム―ポスト「ファミコン」の覇者は誰か) 1993) [No information currently available]
Children of the Famicom Era (ファミコン時代の子どもたち) (1993) [No information currently available]
Family Computer 1983-1994 (ファミリーコンピュータ 1983-1994) (1994) Catalog of every single commercial Famicom game release, also featuring interviews with many people involved in the success of the Famicom.
Master of the game : Steve Ross and the creation of Time Warner (1994) Narrative history of the formation of Time Warner and biography of main founder Steve Ross. Includes several chapters on Atari.
King of Games: The Future of Gaming : Nintendo, Sega, Matsushita, Sony … A clash of the champions, a battle for survival (キング・オブ・ゲームの未来戦 : 任天堂, セガ, 松下, ソニー … 生き残りを賭けた王者たちの激突) (1994) [No information currently available]
A Study of the “FF World” – Virtual Reality Considerations (「FF世界」の研究―バーチャルリアリティ考察学 ) (1994) [No information currently available]
The paradise game industry – “Manufacturers are not the only industry!” (ごくらくゲーム業界―「メーカーだけが業界じゃない!」) (1994) [No information currently available]
Video Game Gods: The Ideals and Dreams of the Men Who Created the RPG (テレビゲームの神々―RPGを創った男たちの理想と夢) (1994) [No information currently available]
Nobody knew! The Surprising Story of a Game Character (誰も知らなかった!!!ゲームキャラの意外話 (竹書房文庫)) (1994) [No information currently available]
The Age of Televisual Games: Video Games Today (電視遊戯時代―テレビゲームの現在) (1994) [No information currently available]
The Wind and Cloud Game Industry’s Warring States Era: Will the era of two powerhouses, Nintendo and Sega, continue? The Third Force and High-tech Battle for position in the manufacturer’s field (風雲ゲーム業界戦国時代―任天堂、セガの2強時代は続くのか? 切り崩しを図る第3勢力とハイテク・ メーカーの陣地争い 単行) (1994) [No information currently available]
Microsoft Arcade: The Official Strategy Guide (1995) Strategy guide for classic arcade games which includes a number of interviews with designers of Atari classics.
Making of A Computer RPG (メイキングオブコンピュータRPG) (1995) [No information currently available]
Games war : video games – a business review (1995) An analysis of the business state of video games.
Video Games (1995) Coffee table book discussing the technology and creation process of video games.
Negotiation Techniques – Nintendo buys the major leagues (交渉術―任天堂、大リーグを買う) (1995) [No information currently available]
New Game Design – A New Way of Thinking for TV Game Creation (新ゲームデザイン―TVゲーム制作のための発想法) 1995) [No information currently available]
The Marathon Scrapbook (1996) Examination of the creation of the Marathon series by Bungie. Features development environments, discarded concepts, and narratives of the various creators.
Sold fight, I’m buying it. : A Blueprint for Nintendo Victory (売られた喧嘩、買ってます。: 任天堂勝利への青写真) (1996) [No information currently available]
Sony, Sega and Nintendo Game Console Final War (ソニー・セガ・任天堂ゲーム機最終戦争) (1996) [No information currently available]
The man who changed the game, Kenji Eno-The truth of the E0 incident (ゲームを変えた男・飯野賢治―E0事件の真相) (1997) [No information currently available]
The Story of Video Games (La saga des jeux vidéo) (1997) Narrative of the video game industry with a focus on French creations and publishers.
From Myst to Riven: The Creations & Inspirations (1997) Development notebook on the development of Cyan Worlds’ two hit computer games.
Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (1997) Academic examination of digital storytelling.
Game Liberation Theory – Kids who don’t play the game are screwed! (ゲーム解放理論―ゲームで遊ばない子はダメになる!) (1997) [No information currently available]
Nintendo and SEGA – Entertainment Industry Breakthrough and Great Competition (任天堂・セガ―エンターテインメント産業の躍進と大競争) (1997) [No information currently available]
The Secret of Pokemon (ポケモンの秘密) (1998) [No information currently available]
The Universe of Video Games (L’univers des jeux vidéo) (1998) [No information currently available]
Pokémon Cult – Your child is in danger! (Pokémon Cult – Your child is in danger!) (1998) [No information currently available]
The Final Hours of Half-Life (1998) Report on the release of Half-Life and the history of Valve Software.
Total Annihilation: The Story so Far (1998) Narrative history of the development of Total Annihilation by Cavedog.
Video Game and Pinball Book of World Records, 1st Edition (1998) Resource of high scores from across various games and the world. Includes historical insight on Twin Galaxies.
Pokémon are children’s enemies or allies: exploring the fascination and true horror of the Pokémon world (ポケモンは子どもの敵か味方か―ポケモン世界の魅力と真の恐怖を探る) (1998) [No information currently available]
Lucky that Way (1998) Memoir by Activision producer Brad Fegger. Discusses his early involvement with computer games and the shepherding of the game Shanghai.
The First Quarter: A 25-year History of Video Games / The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon–The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World (1998/2001) Narrative history of the video game industry.
Game Design: Secrets of the Sages Guide (1999) Collection of interviews with game designers across the board, talking about production and planning.
Blinded by Reality: The True Story Behind the Creation of Unreal (1999) Narrative history behind the creation of the game Unreal and the Unreal Engine by Epic Games.
Haunted Glory: The Rise and Fall of Trilobyte (1999) Report on the closure and histroy of Trilobyte Studios.
Simply Divine: The Story of Maxis (1999) Narrative History of Maxis Software.
Nintendo’s Law – Digital Entertainment 2001 (任天堂の法則―Digital Entertainment 2001) (1999) [No information currently available]
Boys and Girls of the Brain Game (電脳遊戯の少年少女たち) (1999) [No information currently available]
Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony Playstation and the Visionaries Who Conquered the World of Video Games (2000) [Archive] Narrative history of Sony’s arrival into video games. Largely focused on the Japanese side of the story.
It’s the Nintendo (イッツ・ザ・ニンテンドウ) (2000) Discussion book on Nintendo including interviews with several insiders like Shigeru Miyamoto, Hiroshi Imanishi, and Masayuki Uemura.
Pokemon Story (ポケモン・ストーリー) (2000) [No information currently available]
The Final Hours of Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun (2000) Report on the development and release of Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun by Westwood Studios.
Game Freaks – a creative group that is rewriting the world standard of play (ゲームフリーク―遊びの世界標準を塗り替えるクリエイティブ集団) (2000) [No information currently available]
Knee Deep in a Dream: The Story of Daikatana (2000) Report detailing the creation and legacy of Daikatana by Ion Storm.
The Final Hours of Quake III: Arena (2000) Report delving into the history and release of Quake III: Arena by iD Software.
Down From the Top of Its Game (2000) Narrative history and business examination of Infocom looking at its success and downfall.
Yu Suzuki Gameworks Vol 1 (鈴木裕ゲームワークス VOL.1) (2001) Catalog of games created by Yu Suzuki at Sega with small amounts of developer insight.
The Final Hours of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001) Report and development insights on the game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty by Konami.
Eye of the Storm: Behind Closed Doors at Blizzard (2001) Report on the working environment at Blizzard Entertainment.
The Final Hours of Black & White (2001) Report on the release and development of Black & white by Lionhead Studios.
Opening the Xbox: Inside Microsoft’s Plan to Unleash an Entertainment Revolution / The Xbox 360 Uncloaked: The Real Story Behind Microsoft’s Next-Generation Video Game Console (2002) [Archive] Narrative history of Microsoft’s work in creating the Xbox platform.
The First Hours of Command & Conquer: Generals (2002) Report on the initial development phase and brainstorming sessions of Command & Conquer: Generals by Westwood Studios.
The Flight of Enix: A True Story of the Game Industry (エニックスの飛翔―実録・ゲーム業界戦国史) (2002) [No information currently available]
The Endless Hours of The Sims: Online (2002) Report on the creation and release of The Sims: Online.
Game On: The History and Culture of Videogames (2002) [No information currently available]
High Score!: The Illustrated History of Electronic Games (Editions 1 and 2) (2002/2003) Narrative history of the video game industry with a focus on computer games.
Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic (Editions 1 and 2) (2003/2014) A narrative history of Richard Garriott and the creation of Origin Systems. Also includes a chapter on the Columbine controversy.
The Final Hours of Prince of Persia: The Sand of Time (2003) Report on the conception, development, and release of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time by Ubisoft.
Supercade: A Visual History of Video Games (2003) Coffee table book with light narrative explanations of each games’ place in history.
More Than a Game – The Computer Game as Fictional Form (2003) Academic examination of the artistic reaches of video games.
Ken Kutaragi’s Prestige Revolution (久多良木健のプレステ革命) (2003) [No information currently available]
Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar (2004) Development insight into Valve Software’s creation of both the original Half-Life and Half-Life 2. Details unused concepts, design decisions, and a few internal documents from development.
The Final Hours of Half-Life 2 (2004) Report on the development and release of Half-Life 2 by Valve Software.
Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (2004) [Archive] Narrative history of iD Software detailing the creation of Doom and Quake.
Game Design: Theory and Practice (2004) Series of interviews with game designers, spanning their whole careers.
Videogames (2004) Academic book attempting to define and examine the scope of video games for study.
Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution (2004) [Archive] Examination on the creation and play of video games.
The Making of Doom 3 (2004) Developer stories and production details behind the creation of the game Doom 3 by iD Software.
Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction (2005) Academic look at the realm of digital storytelling in interactive fiction.
Droidmaker: George Lucas And the Digital Revolution (2005) [Archive] A narrative history of Lucasfilm including a large portion on LucasArts.
In the Beginning: There Was ‘Pong’ (それは「ポン」から始まった-アーケードTVゲームの成り立ち) (2005) A narrative history of the Japanese coin-op video game industry.
Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games (2005) [Archive] Cultural and business book examining the ecosystems of online games like MMOs.
Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life (Two Editions) (2005/2016) Cultural examination on what makes Japanese games different from developments in the West. Includes several translated interviews with Japanese game developers/
Smartbomb: The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution (2006) [Archive] Narrative history following individual personalities in the creation of the video game industry.
Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture (2006) [Archive] Cultural study on the attitudes of players in the online space.
The Plenitude: Design and Engineering in the Era of Ubiquitous Computing (2007) [Archive] Posthumous memoir by designer Rich Gold talking about the process of idea making in the creation of many inventive games.
Bally: The world’s game maker – celebrating 75 years of innovation (2007) Corporate history of Bally Corporation.
The Video Game Explosion: A History from PONG to PlayStation and Beyond (2007) Series of articles discussing aspects of video game history studies.
Dungeons & Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games (Two Editions) (2008/2018) Reference book covering early computer RPGs.
Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design (2008) Examination of the history and application of sound design and music in video games.
Arcade Mania: The Turbo-charged World of Japan’s Game Centers (2009) Cultural book on the environment of the Japanese arcade center with some small pieces of history for context.
Critical Play: Radical Game Design (2009) Academic study of game design.
Satoshi Tajiri: The Man Who Created Pokemon (田尻 智 ポケモンを創った男) (2009) [No information currently available]
Yokoi Gunpei Game Hall RETURNS ─ The Power of Imagination That Gave Birth to Game Boy (横井軍平ゲーム館 RETURNS ─ゲームボーイを生んだ発想力) (2010) Biography of Nintendo’s Gunpei Yokoi, based on a long form interview just prior to his death.
Nintendo Magic: Winning the Videogame Wars (2010) Business examination of the success of Nintendo and their corporate ideology.
Replay: The History of Video Games (2010) Narrative history of the video game industry. Includes a larger focus on European markets -both West and East – than prior accounts.
Takahashi Meijin – Biographie d’une Idole du Jeu Vidéo au Japon (2010) Biography of Hudson Soft’s Takahashi Meijin based on interviews.
Nihon Falcom 30th Anniversary Official Falcom Chronicle (日本ファルコム30周年公式記念本 Falcom Chronicle) (2011) Coffee table and history book on the entire history of Nihon Falcom.
The Golden Age of Video Games (2011) Narrative history of video games.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture (2011) Narrative history of video games.
Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft® Reader (2011) Academic study and companion piece to the culture of the game World of Warcraft.
The Final Hours of Portal 2 (2011) Report on the release and creation of Portal 2 by Valve Software.
Communities of Play: Emergent Cultures in Multiplayer Games and Virtual Worlds (2011) Academic examination of online play in multiplayer games.
Yoshihisa Kishimoto: Enter the Double Dragon (La Naissance de Kunio Kun et Double Dragon) (2012) Biography of Technos’ Yoshihisa Kishimoto based on interviews by the authot.
Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto (2012) Narrative history of DMA Design/Rockstar Games from their origins through Grand Theft Auto 4.
The men who would be king : an almost epic tale of moguls, movies, and a company called Dreamworks (2012) Narrative history of the company Dreamworks. Includes chapters on Dreamworks Interactive.
Generation Xbox: How Videogames Invaded Hollywood (2012) Narrative history of the intersection of video games with Hollywood ambitions. Includes sections on NEMO, Dreamworks Interactive, and the Super Mario Bros movie.
Grand Thieves and Tomb Raiders: How British Videogames Conquered the World (2012) Narrative history of the development behind some of the most significant British video game creations like Tomb Raider, Peter Molenyeux, and Codemasters.
Before the Crash: Early Video Game History (2012) Series of academic essays examining the technology, culture, and history behind the early video game industry pre-1983.
A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players (2012) Academic exploration of the casual games movement.
The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World (2012) [Archive] Academic study of the player interaction in online worlds like World of Warcraft.
Codename Revolution: The Nintendo Wii Platform (2012) Platform study of the Nintendo Wii, discussing its technical and development environment.
The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga (2012) Platform study on the Commodore Amiga to see how its hardware specifications allowed for the creative expansion of possibilities on home computer platforms.
Secrets to a Creative Mind: Become the Master of Your Mind (2012) Memoir and quasi-inspirational book by David Nutting, peppered with a few tales about his game creation days.
Sony’s DNA Adrift: The Men Who Fought the World with PlayStation (漂流するソニーのDNA プレイステーションで世界と戦った男たち) (2012) [No information currently available]
Arcade-style Game Design: Postwar Pinball and the Golden Age of Coin-op Videogames (2012) Thesis paper exploring the ecosystem of coin-op games.
History of Nintendo Volumes 1 to 4 (2012/2012/2018/2019) Narrative histories and product catalog for the long material history of Nintendo. First volume covers their toy and game history prior to the Game & Watch, the second volume covers Game & Watch, Volume 3 covers the Famicom, and the fourth volume is about the Game Boy.
The Making of Karateka / The Making of Prince of Persia (2012/2020) An edited collection of excerpts from Jordan Mechner’s diary during his days of game creation. Covers a span of years from 1982 to 1989.
Ocean: The History (2013) Narrative history of the British software publisher Ocean Software.
The Video Game Theory Reader 1 and 2 (2003/2008) Series of academic articles discussing game studies.
Service Games: The Rise and Fall of Sega (2013) Narrative history and catalog of Sega, largely covering their home console releases.
Minecraft : the real inside story of Markus ‘Notch’ Persson and the gaming phenomenon of the century (2013) Narrative history of the creation of Minecraft.
The History of Sonic the Hedgehog (2013) [No information currently available]
The life and times of the Nintendo Famicom: the birth of TV games (ファミコンとその時代 : テレビゲームの誕生) (2013) [No information currently available]
Stay Awhile and Listen Volumes 1 and 2 (2013/2019) Narrative history of Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard North. The first book culminates in the release of Diablo II and the second book ends with the effective closure of Blizzard North.
Before Mario (2014) Coffee table book detailing Nintendo products from their origins to 1981.
Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation (2014) Narrative history written in the style of a fiction book detailing the marketing and corporate battle between the American subsidiaries of Nintendo and Sega. Focuses the book in large part around the story of Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske.
The History of Mario : 1981-1991, The Rise of an Icon, From Myths to Reality (L’histoire de Mario : 1981-1991, l’ascension d’une icône, entre mythes et réalité) (2014) [No information currently available]
Dungeon Hacks: How NetHack, Angband, and Other Roguelikes Changed the Course of Video Games (2014) Narrative history of the roguelike genre based on interviews with the game developers.
Developer’s Dilemma: The Secret World of Videogame Creators (2014) Academic examination of game development environments.
Game After: A Cultural Study of Video Game Afterlife (2014) [No information currently available]
How Do Video Games Affect Society? (2014) [No information currently available]
The Final Hours of Titanfall (2014) Report and development history of the game Titanfall by Respawn Entertainment.
Flash: Building the Interactive Web (2014) Platform study on the web-based run-time environment Flash, focusing on its ability to facilitate game creation on the web.
Shigeru Miyamoto: Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda (2015) Biography of Nintendo’s premiere game designer Shigeru Miyamoto.
The Story of U.S Gold (2015) Historical narrative of the British software company U.S Gold.
The formation of gaming culture : UK gaming magazines, 1981-1995 (2015) Narrative history of the major UK magazines dedicated to games and their effect on culture.
Video Games Around the World (2015) A series of essays regarding video game developments in many major countries and regions. Each section has a different author native to the region with varying amounts of information on history, study, and business in each area.
Uncertainty in Games (2015) Academic study on the game design principle of uncertainty and luck.
Works of Game: On the Aesthetics of Games and Art (2015) Academic profile on the visual artistry of games.
Xbox Revisited: A Game Plan for Corporate and Civic Renewal (2015) Memoir of Xbox Executive Robbie Bach.
Prepare to Meet Thy Doom: And More True Gaming Stories (2015) Narrative history of game development. Follow-up to Masters of Doom detailing the exploits of John Romero and John Carmack.
Coin-Operated Americans: Rebooting Boyhood at the Video Game Arcade (2015) Academic examination of the 1980s arcade, relating mainly to the gender disparity of said locations.
I Am Error: The Nintendo Family Computer / Entertainment System Platform (2015) Platform study of the original Famicom/NES, detailing the benefits and obstacles to game creation present in the hardware.
Nintendo Nostalgia – Gunpei Yokoi and his time (任天堂ノスタルジー 横井軍平とその時代) (2015) [No information currently available]
Playing at the Next Level: A History of American Sega Games (2016) Narrative history around Sega of America’s internal development teams, discussed game by game.
Spelunky (2016) A detailed look at the creation and game design decisions behind the game Spelunky, told by its creator Derek Yu.
Making Fun: Stories of Game Development (2016) Series of narrative game development articles built largely on interviews with the subjects.
The Beep Book: Documenting the History of Game Sound (2016) A collection of interviews with some of the leading pioneers in digital game audio.
The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games (2016) Academic study on the nature of failure in video games.
Embed with Games: A Year on the Couch with Game Developers (2016) Narrative look at the development process for several games.
The Tetris Effect (2016) Narrative of the game Tetris, its psychological effect on players, and its competitive environment.
Electronic Dreams: How 1980s Britain Learned to Love the Computer (2016) Historical narrative of the British computer market and its games.
How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design (2016) Academic work detailing the nature of meaningful play.
Debugging Game History: A Critical Lexicon (2016) Series of articles looking at frameworks for studying video game history.
Now the Chips Are Down: The BBC Micro (2016) Platform study on the BBC Micro to how its software limitations sparked creativity.
Explore/Create: My Life in Pursuit of New Frontiers, Hidden Worlds, and the Creative Spark (2017) Biography and memoir of Richard Garriott, covering both his game creation and entrepreneurial exercises.
Galaxian Genesis: The History of Kazunori Sawano (ギャラクシアン創世記 -澤野和則 伝-) (2017) Long form interview detailing the life and work of Namco’s Kazunori Sawano.
Breakout: How Atari 8-Bit Computers Defined a Generation (2017) Catalog of games and culture around the Atari 8-bit computer line along with narrative history for context.
Brenda Laurel: Pioneering Games for Girls (2017) Biography of game designer Brenda Laural.
Jane Jensen: Gabriel Knight, Adventure Games, Hidden Objects (2017) Biography of Sierra game designer Jane Jensen.
Space Invaders – How Tomohiro Nishikado Gave Birth to the Japanese Video Game! (Space Invaders – Comment Tomohiro Nishikado a donné naissance au jeu vidéo Japonais!) (2017) Biography of Taito’s game designer Tomohiro Nishikado.
The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture (2017) Historical narrative around the interconnected computer system PLATO. Includes several chapters on prominent games.
PlayStation Anthology (2017) Coffee table book on notable games for the PlayStation platform. Includes developer interviews.
Nintendo 64 Anthology (2017) Coffee table book featuring high profile games for the Nintendo 64. Includes developer interviews.
The Comic Book Story of Video Games: The Incredible History of the Electronic Gaming Revolution (2017) Narrative history of the video game industry illustrated in the form of a graphic novel.
Atari Age: The Emergence of Video Games in America (2017) Narrative history and study of the early video games.
Honoring the Code: Conversations with Great Game Designers (2017) Collection of interviews with game developers.
Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made (2017) Narrative histories of the development of individual games.
Super Power, Spoony Bards, and Silverware: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (2017) Platform study on the Super Famicom/Super Nintendo Entertainment System dealing with its many in-built hardware functions.
Break Out : How the Apple II Launched the PC Gaming Revolution (2017) Narrative history of the development of several major games and companies who created important games on the Apple II.
GameDev Stories Volumes 1 to 6 (2017/2019/2019/2019/2020/2020) Collections of interviews with game developers.
Q*bert & We (2018) Memoir of artist Jeff Lee’s work at Gottlieb and Premiere Technologies creating both video and pinball games.
The WoW Diary: A Journal of Computer Game Development (2018) Memoir of John Staats, lead level designer on World of Warcraft, detailing the process and creation of MMO worldbuilding.
Cyber Jack: The Adventures of Robert Clardy and Synergistic Software (2018) Memoir of Doug Clardy of Synergistic Software, detailing a number of his early game creations.
The Sega Arcade Revolution: A History in 62 Games (2018) Narrative history of arcade games released under Sega. Each game gets its own development story.
Shovel Knight (2018) Narrative history of the development of Shovel Knight by WayForward.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2018) Narrative history looking at the creation of Knights of the Old Republic by Bioware.
Stairway to Badass: The Making and Remaking of Doom 2016 (2018) Narrative history behind the creation of the game Doom (2016) by iD Software.
Retrogame Archeology: Exploring Old Computer Games (2018) Academic study breaking down methodology and practice of discovering information inside of retro video games.
500 Years Later: An Oral History of Final Fantasy VII (2018) Collection of interviews framing the creation of Final Fantasy VII.
The Secret History of Mac Gaming (2018) Narrative history of games created for the Apple Macintosh platform.
Adventure: The Atari 2600 at the Dawn of Console Gaming (2018) Catalog of Atari 2600 software along with narrative history.
Game Center CX Writer’s Challenge (ゲームセンターCX作家岐部の挑戦) (2018) Memoir of Masayuki Kibe, writer for the show Game Center CX.
The Man Who Made Pokemon, Satoshi Tajiri (ポケモンをつくった男 田尻智) (2018) [No information currently available]
Gaming the Iron Curtain: How Teenagers and Amateurs in Communist Czechoslovakia Claimed the Medium of Computer Games (2018) Narrative history and study of the gaming scene in Czechoslovakia.
8-Bit Apocalypse: The Untold Story of Atari’s Missile Command (2018) Narrative history behind the creation and reception of Atari’s arcade game Missile Command.
Legendary Game Designer Kazutoshi Ueda and Masanobu Endo: Genealogy of Game Culture Vol. 1 (伝説のゲームデザイナー「上田和敏×遠藤雅伸」対談: 《ゲーム文化の系譜 Vol.1》) (2018) Collection of interviews with two prominent Japanese game designers.
The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality (2019) Biography of Palmer Luckey and the Oculus Rift.
They Create Worlds: The Story of the People and Companies That Shaped the Video Game Industry Volume 1 (2019) Narrative history of the video game industry focusing on business trends and decisions.
NBA Jam (2019) Narrative history culminating in the release of Midway’s arcade game NBA Jam.
Arcade Perfect: How Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, and Other Coin-Op Classics Invaded the Living Room (2019) Collection of interviews of game developers behind home ports of arcade games.
The Media Snatcher PC/CORE/TURBO/ENGINE/GRAFX/16/CDROM2/SUPER/DUO/ARCADE/RX (2019) Platform study of the PC Engine/Turbografx 16, examining its base hardware and addons.
The Game Beat: Observations and Lessons from Two Decades Writing about Games (2019) Memoir of game journalist Kyle Orland.
The Game History of The Netherlands: 1978-2018 (Gameschiedenis van Nederland 1978-2018) (2019) Narrative history of game production in The Netherlands.
Faster Than Light: The Atari ST and the 16-Bit Revolution (2019) Catalog of Atari ST software along with user culture, plus some narrative history around its lifespan.
Imagine That!: The story of one of the first African Americans to work in the design of video games and personal computers (2020) Memoir of Ed Smith of APF Electronics.
You Can’t Call It @!#?@!: Stories From a Life Making Video Games (2020) Memoir of Warren Davis detailing the creation of games at Gottlieb and Midway.
Through the Moongate. The Story of Richard Garriott, Origin Systems Inc. and Ultima Parts 1 and 2 (2020/2020) Narrative history of Origin Systems.
The Final Hours of Half Life: Alyx (2020) Report on the release and development of Half Life: Alyx by Valve Software.
A History of Video Games in France, 1960-1991: From Labs to the Teenage Bedroom (Une histoire du jeu vidéo en France, 1960-1991: Des Labos aux Chambres d’ados) (2020) Narrative history of video games created and distributed in France.
Postal (2020) Narrative history documenting the creation of the game Postal (1997).
When SimCity got serious: the story of Maxis Business Simulations and SimRefinery (2020) Narrative history of Maxis Business Simulations and their sole game SimRefinery.
The Sierra Adventure: The Story of Sierra On-Line (2020) Narrative history of Sierra On-Line.
Beyond Donkey Kong: A History of Nintendo Arcade Games (2020) Narrative history of the arcade games released by Nintendo.
Candid Conversations in Code: Interviews With the First Generation of Video Game Programmers (2020-08-12) Collection of interviews with early game developers. [Disclaimer: This book is by the list author.]
The Games That Weren’t (2020) Coffee table book cataloging unreleased games with additional development and historical info as to why each game was never commercially available.
Sid Meier’s Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games (2020-09-08) Memoir of Sid Meier explaining his game design philosophies and stories from his career up to the early Civilization games.
Attract Mode: The Rise and Fall of Coin-Op Arcade Games (2020) Historical narrative of the early coin-op videogames through the 1980s, mainly focusing on Atari.
Hot Tubs and Pac-Man: Gender and the Early Video Game Industry in the United States (2020) Academic examination of gender dynamics in the early video game industry.
Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The rise and fall of Sierra On-Line (2020-10-01) Memoir of Ken Williams, founder of Sierra On-Line.
Who Are You?: Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance Platform (2020) Platform study examining the Game Boy Advanced hardware, diving into its technical capabilities as a driver for game development.
A Bit of Foolishness: An Oral History of Age of Empires (2020-11-12) Oral history covering the development of the first Age of Empires game.
Atari Design Impressions on Coin-Operated Video Game Machines (2020-11-12) A study on the industrial design of arcade games at Atari Inc. and how this aspect of production may have contributed to their success.
Bet on Black: How Microsoft and Xbox Changed Pop Culture (2020-11-13) Long read article covering the inception and release of the original Xbox.
How Pac-Man Eats (2020) Study on the play dynamics and mechanics of Pac-Man.
Todd Howard: Worldbuilding in Tamriel and Beyond (2020-12-24)
The Minds Behind Shooter Games (2021)
Like a Hurricane: An Unofficial Oral History of Street Fighter II (2021)
Shareware Heroes (TBD)
The method behind this list is to compile reading which would be most useful to people seeking to find historical information about the video game industry. This largely excludes buyer’s guides, encyclopedias, and coffee table books except if they are supplemented with new historical research. In general this information has to have some sort of source, even if not directly stated in the text. For instance, many business books on this list are based on observations of contemporaneous news coverage, and occasional first-hand research. A book which is useful to a historian has some sort of fact-checking mechanism behind it, even if not all the stories are true (which they never are).
The books are listed in a chronological order with a description of their contents. If a book has several different editions which add significant content, the release if split into separate years for that purpose. The description attempts to summarize the majority contents of the book, not attempting to detail every piece of it. The parts which are most valuable to a historian should be easy to see at a glance in subject, format, and scope. Where possible, links are provided to library aggregate website Worldcat to prevent this blog from unduly promoting any platform for purchase.
Long-form journalistic articles and thesis papers are also included in the list, as the contents often resemble something which would be published in book form and give a much deeper insight into subjects than may ever be available fully in print. This will not be a comprehensive collection of useful articles for studying the game industry but instead have some level of practical work and examination in crafting their narratives.
Note: This list has errors! I am entirely open to corrections of all kinds. Spelling and grammar, publication date misplacements, and incorrect summaries. Please feel free to correct me or inform me of other books for evaluation in this list via the comments, email, or Twitter.
For those who would like to make a list of their own, they are free to take information from here! Just note that I will be updating this with coming releases in an attempt to keep this the most up to date and comprehensive spot on the internet for game history books.
2020-08-27 (Revision #1 – Created the initial list and explanation.)
2020-09-03 (Revision #2 – Added Jamie Lendino’s books and two Czech related books.)
2020-09-07 (Revision #3 – Began adding exact publication dates for more exact sorting.)
2020-11-28 (Revision #7 – Added new 2020 releases.)