Gaming Books Round-up

Written by Joe Martin

January 8, 2008 | 11:41

Tags: #art #bar #best #book #carmack #coffee #content #cut #design #doom #gift #half #library #money #morris #read #romero #writing

Companies: #history #valve

Gaming Books Round-up

I'm a difficult person to buy presents for, but I haven't always been. I used to be easy to buy for – my family and friends would simply need to buy me a computer game or two. Anything from Lucasarts or with Warren Spector's name on it got bonus points.

Unfortunately, when I moved out of freelancing and into my position as Games Writer for, that all came to an end. Computer games started to be sent to me all year round, not just on Christmas – and by people I never knew, like Eidos, EA or Ubisoft. Suddenly, Christmas present ideas dried up and it slowly dawned on me that I had no other hobbies other than gaming – except reading.

So this year a new trend emerged in my stockings – beneath the wrapping paper that blanketed the floor of my new flat was a treasure trove of books. Books about games.

Gaming books, not to be confused with gamebooks, seem to have undergone a minor revolution lately and have sprung to the fore massively in the last few years. They can be found littering the coffee tables of most every woefully fashionable wannabe thanks to the birth of geek chic and, for the most part, that's all well and good. Let people learn more about and start to appreciate gaming books.

Gaming Books Round-up
Want to see how Counterstrike levels are conceptualised, designed and crafted? There are books for that too...

However, as I found out first-hand this Christmas, not all of these books are really all they seem to be. That some of them aren't very good is to be expected, but some of them put on a veneer of authority and technobabble to cover up what is often nothing more than a ream or two of non-content. It's always just enough to impress non-geeks like my parents and just enough to disappoint a geek like me.

Not all the books are that bad though - some of them are well written and professionally presented, raising the credibility of computer game design as a collaborative artistic process of major interest to a huge, established market.

So, in true charitable post-Christmas fashion, we present a chance for you to learn from our mistakes in our gaming books round-up. Of the gifts we got, which do we recommend and which do we abhor? What's good for gamers and what's more suited to tech-heads? What belongs on your bookshelf and what should be balancing your coffee table? Enough with the questions, just read-on for the answers!
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