Comic books and video games are fun examples of the visual arts especially when author Jonathan Hennessey combines them in an entertaining and educational book certain to appeal to fans of both genres. Even though information comes in comic panels, this isn’t a quick and glossy overview, but rather a thoughtful and in depth exploration of the history of video games; how they got here, the state of the art, and where they’re going.
Hennessey starts off with the surprising statement that computers are not a must have to make or play video games, nor are all electronic games video games. To back that up he takes readers on a tour of game development history starting with experiments with electricity in the 1800s. That leads to pre- and post-World War II and the cathode ray tube. He touches on early contributors to computer technology such as Alan Turing and how the Cold War contributed not only to computer development, but also gaming tropes.
Hacking began a lot earlier than you’d think (the 1950s.) Early hackers’ desire to understand the ins and out of computers went hand in hand with their yen to improve them and stretch the boundaries of what technology could do. Hennessey comes to the amusing conclusion that video games are themselves a hack since computers were only intended for military, government, scientific and industry use. The book is rife with stories of early pioneers such as Nolan Bushnell and Steve Wozniak along with many you never heard of such as Jerry Lawson, an early builder of arcade games. The author ends with the Xbox and Wii Minecraft and how home consoles changed the industry.
This is a fast, fun book with nicely drawn graphics. It’s as up to date as can be expected, but considering how quickly technology changes, the last entries in the book are sure to be old news soon. I received this book from Blogging for Book in exchange for a review.