Reading books about the history and impact of gaming is a great way to expand your appreciation and knowledge of the medium. Amazon is loaded with books on the subject, so we went ahead and found some of the best for you to check out.
My home office is filled with books about video games, video game art, video game history, and a few vintage strategy guides. The goal is to absorb the knowledge through osmosis, sort of like when you enter a Minecraft library with an enchanting table. I’ve even gone so far as to actually read most of them. Most.
This is a deep dive into the world of game development, told by people involved in creating some of your favorite games. Jason Schreier has made a name for himself getting credible news from sources on the inside, and this book is the culmination of his work.
This book takes a deep dive into the history of video games and is loaded with the sort of “holy crap” facts that will astonish your friends.
You can still get this classic book in paperback, but it’s on the pricey side. Or you can order it for Kindle and start reading it right this second, at a price that won’t make you think twice. It’s a great retelling of the history and rise of Nintendo as a gaming juggernaut. I actually went to buy this for Kindle and Amazon told me I already owned it, so I guess I best get to reading.
Another exploration of the history of gaming, this one looks at its influence of popular culture. Games started out as more of a curiosity than anything else, and now they’re this gigantic thing that whole movies are based around.
Even more historical exploration of video gaming, from arcades to PC to handhelds. If you read just one book on the history of video games, pick this one, and then as soon as you’re done, grab another. I was joking about the “just one book” part. There’s no shortage of fascinating stories to discover.
This novel by Blake J. Harris takes a novel approach to the console wars. See what I did there? Using historical documentation and interviews, the author made this tale of Sega and Nintendo duking it out read like a work of fiction, rather than non-fiction, and it’s as enjoyable as it is informative.
This is the first book I ever read on the history of video games. Sure, I read a few blurbs here in there in old magazines like Nintendo Power and the old Electronic Gaming Monthly, but this was the first book I consumed dedicated strictly to exploring the history of games. I highly recommend it.
Chris Kohler knows his stuff. If you follow retro gaming at all, you’ve likely heard him, or at least his name mentioned. This is actually an updated version of an out-of-print book he released in 2004, when writing a book about video games wasn’t nearly as mainstream.
This art book is actually on sale right now, and even if it weren’t, I’d still recommend it. I have this near me right now, as I write this, and I really love it. There’s art from Yoshitaka Amano for every Final Fantasy game and it’s such a pure delight.
I pre-ordered this one because I already have the other two books in the series, and they’re a pure delight. This one doesn’t come out until this fall, so it requires patience, but you can always buy the other books to tide you over until then.
I knew this book was extremely my jam when I opened up to a 2-page illustration of the Master Sword. I would have paid cover price just for that. I love art books and this is one of my all-time favorites.
If you want to understand the convoluted timeline of the Legend of Zelda games, this is where you can get your fix. But perhaps more than that, there’s incredible deep dives into each game up to Skyward Sword, and if you buy just one of the Zelda books, make it this one.
Here’s another informative, collectible book about one of gaming’s most cherished franchises. The special edition comes in one of 5 different slip covers, and oozes Nintendo charm.
Mega Man is my favorite video game character of all. I have the Mega Man 25th Anniversary book and I would have added it to this list, but it’s out of print and also expensive now. But you can pre-order this one and enjoy all the charm of Keiji Inafune’s designs later this year.
I’m pretty old, so my earliest gaming memories were playing Atari 2600 on a black and white television set. The graphics on Atari were bad even for the time, but the art on the boxes and cartridges was sublime. It promises this gorgeous world the technology simply couldn’t replicate, so you had to fill it in with your imagination.
Seth Macy is IGN’s Tech and Commerce Editor. Follow him on Twitter @sethmacy.