Gamers are often characterized as being lazy and addicted to their screen, but this is a false stereotype. There are plenty of gamers who not only love spending time playing games on their television (or monitor), but also enjoy diving into a good book. We’ve put together a list of the best video game books on the market that any gamer will love. These video game books will inspire, encourage, entertain, and inform you on all things gaming related.
Let us know in the comments or in our Facebook discussion which of these gaming books you loved, hated, and those that are dear to your heart and even those that you feel should not be on this list. We want to hear from you! And now, here are the 35 of the Best Video Game Books.
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
A fantastic science fiction were a young teenager escapes from the harsh realities of his world into a virtual reality game called Oasis. The book is chock-full of 90’s video game references, and is an all around fun page-turning read!
“It was the dawn of new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a videogame.”
2. Console Wars by Blake J. Harris
Console Wars details the story of how Sega fought the Goliath Nintendo back in the 90’s. An interesting read on the history of two definitive gaming companies.
“Videogames were for everyone; they just didn’t realize it yet.”
3. Replay: The History of Video Games by Tristan Donovan
Want to read about where video games came from? This epic tale shares how our beloved video games came to be beginning with the first computers following the history to the modern day.
“Nintendo’s standards were exacting. “In terms of game testing they revolutionized the concept,” said Milgrom. “They said zero defects – we will not allow you to release a game that has any bugs in it whatsoever. Now zero defects was an unheard of concept in any other software or on any other gaming platform. Nintendo knew if they were going to sell it in the supermarkets and sell it to mums and dads it had to work off the shelf and had to be flawless.”
4. Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell
Journalist Tom Bissell mixes memoir, reporting, and critique in this book that makes a defense of video games being an art form. This book is great for those that love gaming, hate it, or are just interested in why video games are becoming increasingly more popular.
“More than any other form of entertainment, video games tend to divide rooms into Us and Them. We are, in effect, admitting that we like to spend our time shooting monsters, and They are, not unreasonably, failing to find the value in that.”
5. Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner
If you’re a fan of Doom or Quake you must read this book. It’s the narrative account of John Carmack and John Romero who took the early PC gaming market by storm. It’s a remarkable story of how passion and ambition can bring people together, but also tear them apart. The gaming world can thank these two men for helping shape what we have now today.
“If we can get this done, [Doom] is going to be the f***ing coolest game that the planet Earth has ever f***ing seen in its entire history!”
Want to have the coolest book on your coffee table? The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia is 400+ pages of illustrations from the history of the Zelda franchise (including Breath of the Wild!). Anyone can appreciate this sweet gaming book!
7. Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life by Chris Kohler
An enjoyable book that examines the factors that have made Japanese video games a worldwide phenomenon. The book also offers interviews and personal accounts from professionals in the gaming industry such as Shigeru Miyamoto and Hideo Kojima.
8. Game Over Press Start to Continue by David Sheff
The deeply researched exhaustive history of Nintendo by David Sheff. Shocking to read about Nintendo’s aggressive and semi-illegal business practices to dominate the video game industry.
“When Sigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, Luigi, and Zelda, heard the complaints about video games, he simply shrugged his shoulders. “Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock ’n’ roll.”
9. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
Written by a game designer Reality is Broken explains how video games can raise happiness globally. McGonigal shows how games can solve social problems like depression, obesity, poverty, climate change, and more.
“A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.”
10. The Invisible Game: Mindset of a Winning Team by Zoltan Andrejkovics
Written by an eSport team manager this book gives insight into just how mentally tough eSport players must be. Not only does it give an insider’s view into what eSport players must go through mentally, but also gives ways for aspiring eSport players to face the mental and real life challenges they will inevitably face.
“The only boundaries for you are those, you place in yourself.”
11. Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan
The story of how our favorite plumber become a worldwide sensation. Mario started as a regular plumber and turned into the world’s most popular plumber. This book shares how it all happened.
“The other franchises let you experience the adrenaline and horror of war, or deep fantasy worlds, or pro sports. A Mario game lets you pretend to be a middle-aged chubster hopping onto a turtle shell.”
12. Game On!: Video Game History from Pong and Pac-Man to Mario, Minecraft, and More by Dustin Hansen
A history of video games focusing in on classic like Pong and Pac-Man and moving to modern day gems such as Minecraft and the Uncharted series.
13. Getting Gamers: The Psychology of Video Games and Their Impact on the People who Play Them by Jamie Madigan
Video games can get a bad rap for being a waste of time, relationship killers, and money sucks. Getting Gamers presents all the positive traits that gaming offers the gamer and world at large.
14. Video Game Storytelling by Evan Skolnick
Are you interested or developing your own video game? This book can help you develop an engaging and exciting narrative. Evan Skolnick dives into what makes a great story and how to implement story into your game.
“Video game storytelling doesn’t begin or end with a writer. The Best game stories emerge from a collaborative process between a writer and a cross-disciplinary team of game developers. And so, as a game developer, you are also a storyteller.”
Sometimes pictures can speak more than words ever could. Enjoy this art from Pac-Man, Mass Effect, Super Mario 64, and more classic games.
16. The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon–The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World by Steven L. Kent
A full history of gaming filled with interesting tidbits. In this read you’ll learn about how Pac-Man was designed, the coin shortage caused by Space Invaders, and the reason why Atari failed.
“The flipper bat was quite a breakthrough because it gave the player a true means of exercising and developing skill. You could aim at targets now, rather than in the old days when you popped the ball up and just shook the shit out of the table and hoped that it went in the right hole or hit the right thing. The use of the flipper bat is probably the greatest breakthrough ever in pinball. —Eddie”
We have included many history books that give an overview of the gaming industry, but this one is unique in that it is a comic book version of it! Feel like reading a comic book and want to know how video games started? This is the book for you! Enjoy the art!
18. Spelunky by Derek Yu
Many regard Derek Yu’s video game Spelunky as one of the best indie games ever. This autobiography shares Yu’s story, influences, and explanations of how he designed Spelunky. An interesting read for hardcore Spelunky fans and game developers.
“In a way, producing, experiencing, and interacting with art is like participating in a long-running conversation that artists have been having and will keep having in the future.”
19. Gamelife: A Memoir by Michael W. Clune
Michael Clune’s memoir looks at his childhood and teenage years as he becomes obsessed with video games. The deep dive into Clune’s life looks at how youth can be transformed by gaming and technology.
“But we advance into the mystery beyond life only by misunderstanding the living.”
20. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier
Looking at video games such as Dragon Age: Inquisition, Stardew Valley, and Destiny, Shreir takes the reader behind the scenes of what it takes to develop a video game. It’s a peek behind the curtain to see the hard work and attention to detail that large game developing teams and individual game developers must undertake to produce their a top quality game.
21. The Tetris Effect: The Game that Hypnotized the World by Dan Ackerman
Tetris may be the most recognizable game in the world, and while it came out many years ago is still played today. Dan Ackerman answers why this simple game can be so addictive, and how it captured the minds of many.
“One of those adversaries was Kevin Maxwell, the privileged son of a hard-charging UK media mogul. Anyone who had taken on Maxwell and his well-connected father, Robert, found that the Maxwell family frequently proved the old adage about starting a war of words with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”
22. All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture by Harold Goldberg
Grand Theft Auto, King’s Quest, Madden, Super Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, Crash Bandicoot, and The Sims. These games are vastly different, but all have helped bring video games into popular culture. Journalist Harold Goldberg interviews those within the gaming industry and examines gaming’s history to understand how gaming pushed its way into pop culture.
“Unabashedly, Yokoi said, “The Nintendo way of adapting technology is not to look for the state of the art but to utilize mature technology that can be mass-produced cheaply.”
23. The Making of Prince of Persia by Jordan Mechner
Prince of Persia is now a classic best-selling video game franchise. The great game was created and programmed by Jordan Mechner. This book is a collection of Mechner’s journal entries during development chronicling the struggles, joys, and challenges of creating the hit game Prince of Persia.
“I’ve chosen a life that’s so different from everybody else’s that it cuts me off from them. Practically everybody I know treats me like a guest celebrity. Of course it’s my own fault. I feel so damn alone sometimes, I feel like I could just float away into the stratosphere and everybody would stand there looking up at me and not one would haul me back down to earth. No ropes.”
24. Significant Zero by Walt Williams
A book about video games Significant Zero is the story of Walt Williams. Williams is a retired professional game designer who worked on Bioshock, Oblivion, Mafia II, Mafia III, and as a writer on Star Wars: Battlefront II. Williams reveals the inner world of game design with commentary on topics such as violence in games. If you’re interested in writing video games this video game book is right up your alley!
25. A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
A heartwarming story of Father and his autistic son who are able to connect through the popular video game Minecraft. While it’s a fictional account, the plot is inspired by Keith’s own relationship with his autistic son.
“Life is an adventure, not a walk. That’s why it’s difficult.”
A comprehensive book that gives background information of every classic game adventure game that you can think of. It also includes from the perspective of how the game relates to others in the genre, how the game holds up today, and how it relates to others in the series.
27. Breakout: How Atari 8-Bit Computers Defined a Generation by Jamie Lendino
Those who lived and gamed through the 80s have fond memories of Atari games. While looking at the rise and history of Atari, Breakout also explores the 8-bit platform as it stands today.
28. Service Games: The Rise and Fall of SEGA by Sam Pettus
Personally my first gaming system was a Sega Genesis that I received as a birthday gift in Kindergarten. This book explores the history of one of my favorite video game companies: Sega.
“While never ultimately commercially successful, the Dreamcast is home to the most expensive-to-produce games made to date. Shenmue and Shenmue 2 cost more than $70 million at the time; Sega would have needed to sell two copies of each game for each Dreamcast”
29. Armada by Ernest Cline
This fictional novel is the tale of Zack Lightman who wishes that his life was more like the video games that he spent playing. It was all wishing until a UFO flies across the sky, and Zack finds himself fulfilling his dream fighting for humanity.
“I’d spent my entire life overdosing on uncut escapism, willingly allowing fantasy to become my reality.”
30. Halo – Boxed Set
Do you love the Halo video game franchise? Check out this set of three books that explore the war between Master Chief and the Covenant. This contains “Contact Harvest,” “The Cole Protocol,” and “Ghosts of Onyx.”
“For a split second, Lash couldn’t think. He was all animal, fight or flight . . . with an overwhelming portion of his mind focused on the flight portion of that imperative.”
31. God Jr. by Dennis Cooper
God Jr. is the story of Jim, a father who survived the car crash that killed his teenage son Tommy. Tommy was distant, transfixed by video games and pop culture, and a mystery to the man who raised him. Now, disabled by the accident, yearning somehow to absolve his own guilt over the crash, Jim becomes obsessed with a mysterious building Tommy drew repetitively in a notebook before he died. As the fixation grows, Jim starts to take on elements of his son-at the expense of his job and marriage-but is he connecting with who Tommy truly was?
32. Deus Ex: Icarus Effect by James Swallow
If you’ve played the Deus Ex video game you’ll enjoy reading this book. It does a great job of explaining the events that result to the events that take place in the game. If you’re hoping for a fuller picture of the Deus Ex universe this book is for you!
33. Embed with Games by Cara Ellison Swallow
This is a collection of essays that Cara wrote as she traveled the world crashing on couches and meeting game creators. This is her story and insight into the lives of popular gave developers.
“There’s a languid pleasure in waiting. The feeling of being suspended. You might look down, sometimes, and think that you are far from the ground, like you might drop if you didn’t fly so hard. You might become scared of what might happen. But if you look back in front of you, where there is clear sky, where you can see the obstacles coming and you take them one at a time, it’s like waiting, not moving. It’s like suddenly becoming aware that you are alive. Is waiting when we are most alive?”
34. A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players by Jesper Juul
A look at how through the years the types of people who have been playing games have changed. Thanks to the Nintendo Wii, no longer are video games just for young boys.
35. The Witcher Boxed Set by Andrzej Sapkowski
The Witcher game series is insanely good! Did you know that it’s based off of a book series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Read the book that the gaming series is based off of.
Have you read any of these video game books? Are we missing some great gaming titles from this list? We’d love to know what your thoughts are on this list, and whether we missed any anything! Share in the comments below or join in the Facebook discussion.
Also check out our article on 24 of the Best Video Game Art Books!