ON THE SHELF: High Score! The Illustrated History of Electronic Games

Games aficionados and technologists alike will get a kick out of High Score!

This well produced glossy book on the history of gaming traces the evolution of electronic games, from ‘prehistory' (including great spreads on early pinball machines) through to the development of the first games systems, games like Doom and finally recent launches like the Xbox.

Loads of great photos and a good design mean the book feels like it should join the coffee table stack - but the text will hook you in. As well as looking at the games themselves, Demaria and Wilson delve into the histories of the companies and the personalities behind the great games. Knowing these background machinations help you to understand why fantastic games and platforms can fail. Creative people don't always make good business managers, and stories of the clashes between management and designers are enlightening.

Games fans shouldn't worry that there isn't enough of the real stuff: the games themselves. There are sketches and notes for early games so you can get an understanding of how famous games were created, and loads of anecdotes detailing how developers came up with their ideas.

Given the high-stakes undertaking that the industry has become, with billions of dollars spent in marketing, it's worthwhile taking this trip down memory lane to see where it all started. The writers enthusiastically lead you through the twists and turns - and even if you just looked at the photos, you'd get your money's worth: they may only be a snapshot of the dense history of gaming, but they certainly make for a fun read.

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Deanne McIntosh

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