These books capture the story, the spirit of the game


Each month, the Columbia Public Library offers selections from its collection related to a current bestseller or hot topic. Public Services Librarian Stellan Harris has compiled this month’s picks.

There’s nothing better for a relaxed get-together with friends than kicking back and enjoying a game, whether it’s with cards, a board, or any other type.

In recent history, the ways we play games have changed in significant and fascinating ways. While some classic games are still popular, contemporary options like video games and role-playing games are growing in popularity. The story of these hobbies, and what they mean to us, is an under-told story. Several fascinating books attempt to change that, pointing the way to today’s games.

“A history of video games in 64 objects” by the World Video Game Hall of Fame (Dey St., 2018) is one of a pair of books that strive to bring some visual history to the video game world. This book is both incredibly readable and fascinating to watch. With high definition images of objects ranging from fundamental pinball machines to arcade games, massive online multiplayer game servers to a copy of Oregon Trail, this title attempts to chart a course from the origins of what would become the video games up to the present day (from 2018).

“The Game Console” by Evan Amos (No Starch Press, 2018) is another great visual resource for video game history, focusing on the development of home consoles. With detailed descriptions and history of each console, as well as beautiful visual breakdowns of the consoles and their accessories, this title is a wonderful resource for those interested in how video games have looked in the home over the years. year.

For a title that focuses on the story of a specific game, you can’t go wrong with “Masters of Fate” by David Kushner (Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2004), which tells the story of one of the most influential games in history and the two men who created it. Doom was arguably the founding game of the first-person shooter genre and a source of controversy throughout its existence. So, unsurprisingly, the story of the game and the industry titans behind it makes for a compelling story from start to finish.

Shifting gears a bit, I wanted to feature a few books that tell some of the history of tabletop roleplaying, Dungeons and Dragons. D&D is pretty mainstream right now, but a lot of people might be surprised to know that the story of the company behind the game has had a lot of twists and turns. “Killing the Dragon” by Ben Riggs (St. Martin’s Press, 2022) explores these ups and downs in an engaging way to paint portraits of the many complex figures involved. This book delves into the gritty details of the decisions that ultimately led to the modern incarnation of D&D, and will be a gripping read for those interested in how the hobby developed.

"slay the dragon"

For another perspective, look no further than “Dungeons and Dragons: Art & Arcana” by Michael Witwer (Ten Speed ​​​​Press, 2018), a beautiful book that chronicles the many changes that D&D has undergone in its works. Describing how the game’s aesthetic has changed since its inception, this book recounts how the very fantasy of the game has evolved and changed, while highlighting some of the weird quirks you might have missed.

For my last two titles, I want to take a detour into the realm of fiction to show how contemporary games have influenced the kinds of stories we write. First of all, I would like to recommend the graphic novel “Dying, Volume 1” by Kieron Gillen (Image Comics, 2019), which involves a group of people stuck in their tabletop fantasy world. They escape, but several years later they must return to discover the fate of their lost friend. The novel is beautifully illustrated and conveys the wonderful sense of otherworldliness and fantasy that the best D&D sessions can have, while having an undercurrent of horror of the real danger the characters find themselves in.


To finish, “Kill” by Brittney Morris (Simon Pulse, 2019) is a young adult novel that follows the efforts of a teenage video game developer as she battles against forces beyond her control that seek to close down the space she lives in. has built into its game. Focused on the potential of games to be a place of community and camaraderie, especially in the face of hardship, “Slay” is a wonderful read that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Stop by the library for more books related to all things gaming – and have a great September!


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