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Vol. 2, Issue 11
February 10, 1999

Pad Happy:

Amazon-sponsored (not) Bookshelf Edition

by Nick Ferguson



Nick F goes all literary. Well, kinda...

ell, I had this week's column down as a review of Crazy Taxi on Dreamcast, but thanks to Her Majesty's Customs & Excise department, it looks like that isn't going to happen... my apologies in advance for another "divergent" edition of Pad Happy. I feel kind of at a loose end, so I think I'll use my space this week to recommend a number of industry-related books I own (or have read recently) that regular loonygames readers might appreciate.

[Editor's note: in the interest of full-disclosure, it should be pointed out, that while loonygames does not in any way benefit from the sales of these books (the links to Amazon.com are not part of any affiliates program) the site is mentioned in one book, and one book has a chapter written by one of our editors. With that in mind, I return you to your regularly scheduled Pad Happy.]

When I wrote my column on game testing a while back, I received quite a lot of feedback from people keen to get into the games industry. It's difficult to know what to say to people when you don't really know much about them or their situation, but I think that one quality that will help anyone is knowing about the history of the the games industry (especially as it's now old enough that a large number of gamers - myself included - don't really remember the advent of classic games like Pong, Space Invaders and Pac-Man). Someone much wiser than me (although I'm confident I could whup his ass at Goldeneye) once said, "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it". I think this is increasingly applicable to the games industry, where we see the same old battles being fought over increasingly faster generations of hardware, year after year. With that thought in mind, let's see how we can learn from others' mistakes...

Probably the most famous and widely-read book written about the games industry is "Game Over" by David Sheff. Sheff was a successful freelance journalist who decided to investigate the Nintendo phenomenon after his son (like so many of us) became addicted to NES games. Although first published in 1993, the book remains an essential read for anyone interested in games because it successfully brings to life the many personalities that contributed to the success of Nintendo (including design deity Shigeru Miyamoto) in the early 90's. Whereas the original edition ends with the impending US launch of the SNES, a recent re-release has several additional chapters (by a different author) which bring the story much more up-to-date.

If you're not a Nintendo fan (get out!) or if you want a broader overview of the games industry, J.C. Herz's "Joystick Nation" (1997) is an entertaining book, focusing mainly on the Golden Age of videogaming (the late 70's and early 80's). Although you may get the impression J.C. isn't totally clued-in on the games of today (a section on first-person shooters doesn't get beyond Doom II), her passion for the titles of her youth really shines through. The book also takes an interesting sociological slant by asking what the broader effect of video games on our society will be (and, for a welcome change, tends to focus on the positive).


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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Dan Zalkus. Pad Happy is © 2000 Niick Ferguson. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, so watch it - we know kung fu, gaijin.