A gloriously illustrated history of the videogame and its legacy for both our mindscapes and video technology.
The generation now in its 30s pumped innumerable quarters into free-standing video consoles with protruding joysticks, steering wheels, and "fire" buttons the quaint precursors of today's dollar-based sensory overload and sleekly sophisticated home systems. Burnham, an L.A.-based Wired contributing editor and a member of the Video Arcade Preservation Society, lovingly collects screen shots of faves like Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Q*bert, along with early games like Computer Space and Pong, and home games from Atari and Nintendo. The cheeky capsule descriptions of each game from Burnham and others are matched with longer essays from writers like Julian Dibble (My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World), who writes about the text-based game Adventure, and former Feed editor Steven Johnson (Emergence) on Atari competitor Intellivision. The chronological organization holds the book's disparate games and players together adequately, but readers looking for a straight narrative history should look elsewhere: this is all about memory jogging and rapturous description. Notably, Burnham did the book's text, design and production; the layout is quirky and provocative but not disorienting, and the print quality is excellent. (Nov.) Forecast: While the book can't compete with the actual experience of playing the games, Burnham's time capsule will given as a gift among gamers (not a small subculture), and browsers from its demographic will at least flip through. The MIT imprint could lead to some campus acquisitions, especially for schools with modern media and culture departments. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.