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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Art of Video Games

The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect

What immediately grabs me is the layout of this book. Not only does it have a short tidbit history of video games, but it's a pleasure to look through. From the large font of one word when you open the book "Start!", you know this had a gamer in mind.

This book would not exist without the current The Art of Video Games exhibit at the Smithsonian. It will run March 16- Sept 30. However, after it's initial exhibition it will travel to 10 cities in the US, LA not being one of them sadly, I guess MOCA and LACMA don't care. However, if your lucky enough to be attending the opening there's a lot of activities planned. Including the outside playing of video games, speakers from the video game community including the guy in charge of Kotaku, and old Nolan Bushnell. You can get the full list of speakers and activities of the 3 day "Gamefest" at the site I already listed.

Sadness, for no LA exhibition, but we still have E3 and a million other video game related events. The book doesn't pack a million video games in it, but does have more than 200 pages of video game goodness. Many pages contain a tight synopsis of the game matched with a beautiful image of the game. The book is also filled with interviews and for every new chapter explains the point of history of what games are out at that time.

I want more from the book though, it's kind of like a Pokedex to video games, explaining only a bit or a few characteristics of the game. There's little discussion of the art or graphics, mostly just technical explanations of gameplay with story and history. It would have been better to title the book and possibly the exhibit The History of Video Games. That isn't to say the synopsises aren't well-written and are spot on. They do clearly define artistic elements and style , but  usually in one paragraph or other times are just forgotten. I guess I wanted more an examination of the art, with analysis from an artist or a programmer or designer, maybe technical info on graphics that could be generated for the game. Possibly asking to much given the limited space of one page to keep the aesthetic of the book.

The book can of acts like a doorway to get you interested in the games it reviews. I kind of wish the reviews/synopsis of each game was somehow up on a major site, sort of like the Encyclopedia Video Gameia, I think that would have been a better title. I kind of wish the cover was a little more fun, I get the minimalist bit view, but I would have liked something else.

You can pick it up now.

The reviewer was provided a  PDF online copy for review.