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The best video game books

Video game books are edging towards a golden era. People are writing about everything under the sun: travelogues, deep analyses of EVE Online, sociocultural inspections, and narrative dissections. For those passionate about the medium, there’s been no better time to learn about it.

In this buyer’s guide, we’ve assembled a sampling of the best video game books we’ve read. The books listed are not necessarily PC gaming specific, as that would exclude an arbitrary portion of good writing for no good reason—all things in the games industry and creative culture influence one another. Included are links to where you can purchase the publications, with a brief summary of each.

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Masters of Doom

  • Reloads your brain (with knowledge)
  • A safe way to think about hell
  • Is not the videogame Doom
  • Cannot run Doom
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Embed with Games

  • Gives global perspective
  • Details parties with Terry Cavanagh
  • You are not partying with Cavanagh
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10 PRINT CHR$(205.5 + RND(1)); : GOTO 10

  • May be the hardest you think about old code
  • Mazes are cool
  • Impossible to Google
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Unwinnable

  • A winning collection of writers
  • Breezy and insightful
  • Does not let you win
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Uncertainty in Games

  • ???
  • It's uncertain
  • Read to find out
  • The _____ is jarring
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How to Do Things with Videogames

  • Taught me to love video game buildings
  • Widens perspective of game utility
  • Made me Google 'games that do your taxes'
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Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

  • Teaches how to use games for the greater good
  • Does not teach you how to hack the Matrix
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The State of Play

  • Diverse writers, diverse topics
  • A clean snapshot of gaming culture today
  • Play is not recognized as a state by federal government
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Extra Lives

  • Stark, realistic take on games culture
  • Easy to identify with author's perspective at times
  • Drugs are bad
  • Don't do drugs
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The Arcade Review

  • Covers fringe games and art
  • Cover art is almost too cool
  • Is not a review for arcades
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Killing is Harmless

  • Motivates reader to think harder about games
  • Gives new perspective on player violence
  • Turns out, killing isn't harmless
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Reading ahead

The books here won't fill up your library, but don’t worry, the list isn’t final. We’ll keep reading and updating until our organic eyeballs are replaced by whatever Google comes up with that aren’t embarassing cyber goggles. In the meantime, enjoy.

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