Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Comic Book Story of Video Games

The Comic Book Story of Video Games by Jonathan Hennessey and Jack Mcgowan, published by Ten Speed Press, publication date October 3, 2017.
This is my first non-fiction review, so be gentle on me :o)  
I'll begin by saying how surprisingly interesting I found the subject to be; I intended to read this to see if my high school Manga-loving students would like this. I've decided that, even if they wouldn't, the robotics-, engineering-, and coding-type gamers would! There were so many interesting factoids in the telling of this history. (I'm tempted to leak a few to you here, but I wouldn't want a spoiler alert tagged to this review.) Suffice it to say, that in 181 pages of story, I annotated 24 or so places with 'interesting factoid.'

The vocabulary might be a bit elevated for some high schoolers, but those with an interest in this topic will probably glean or look up the meanings of the unknown terms; it doesn't happen often enough to turn off a reader. There were a few places where I felt a chronological disconnect to the unfolding of the history, almost as if the author thought the relevance of a fact was more important in deciding its placement than pure chronology; if only that were always the case... at least twice I needed to reread sections because I thought I had 'missed' something, but rereading didn't clarify the information placements. Still, it was historical, so I tried just to absorb the significance of the information without the need to strictly enforce the chronology.

The storytelling depends heavily on Moore's Law without ever explaining it. (see http://www.wired.co.uk/article/wired-explains-moores-law if you, too, don't know Moore's law.) There were also a few places where I would have liked to have been told the source of the information being touted as fact since I practice a healthy skepticism of weighted adjectives that appear alongside data.

The distractions described were fairly minor to my overall enjoyment of the history of video games (hint: my first personal awareness of video gaming coincides with page 87 or so). I thoroughly enjoyed the many pop culture, political, and historical gaming evolutionary connections the author made throughout the story. Psychology, marketing, politics, war, engineering, computers, electricity, culture... the author included something with which a multitude of readers could engage. (Simply put: something for everyone.)

My enjoyment was OBVIOUSLY enhanced by the clever, detailed, and engaging drawings in this graphic novel. At least twice I full-stopped reading just to appreciate the humor and allusions the drawing provided to heighten the experience. The pictures were not merely embellishments; they sometimes were the story! Some of the best pictures were enough to jog my memory, explain something new, or complete a written explanation. Note: The cover doesn't do the inside any justice:

I'm looking forward to recommending this title to my non-fiction readers as well as my computer, gaming, coding, and Manga-ing students (and teachers!)

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