An incredibly, almost anemically, straightforward recent history and look behind the scenes reportage on the making of video games in the last two decades by a Kotaku writer whose day to day reporting is much more incisive and critical and political in its nature. I love video games and I’ve played through several of the ones here, and other than the last one detailed, as it was ultimately canceled, I’ve at least played or watched people playing all of them. So the history here is something that I’ve been cursorily aware of, but never in such detail.
This book is a detailed reporting on the specific stories of several different companies developing several different games. The ones described in this book seem to look across the wide array of white men making games, and finding some diversity in terms of size of companies and level of independence. While there’s some diversity in terms of race and ethnicity behind the scenes, there’s little present here, as this book focuses on the CEOs and lead designers, and there’s almost no women presented here except for a few wives, girlfriends, and minor players. So while it might very well represent the industry as a whole, it doesn’t look for subjects that are more diverse, or couldn’t seem to find them. And we don’t know because the author doesn’t mention them.
In addition, analysis of the labor practices of video games, ie the crunch of unpaid overtime in the lead up to launches and other events, is discussed as an industry practice, but not really analyzed. So while the history is interesting, the book is shallow and frustrating, given the daily output of the writer otherwise.