Most helpful positive review
An interesting read for game fans
on 20 June 2012
I'd recommend this book to those who like me took an interest into the Art of Video Games website, exhibition, voting process etc. It should also be of interest to hardcore gamers familiar with the games in question (websearch "The Art of Video Games" for the list), industry experts and anyone else who wants to know why Mario has a moustache.
The book contains descriptions & images of the 80 games chosen for the exhibition, divided into categories dependant on the "gaming era" in which they were released. There are also interviews with game designers/creators. With not having the means to travel across the Atlantic this year for the exhibition at the Smithsonian I purchased the book as an alternative - but the book does not contain much insight into the exhibition itself (no pictures, little reference overall to it, no mention of the future US exhibition dates etc) which is a little shame.
The descriptions of each game provide an insight into their inception, design & history (mainly focusing on the positive attributes) without delving too deep. The accompanying images are screenshots taken from the games, however, at least for the RPG's I've played, appear to be images taken from early in the game, and of the title screen, and can't help feel that some artistic imagery from later in the games will have been missed. I believe the Smithsonian exhibition was to include fan art however the book makes no reference to this. I also would have liked to see conceptual imagery, early character/enemy/level design etc.
The interviews with the designers read like they've been handed a piece of paper and asked to write a 500 word essay on "how/why they are in the games industry and why are they art?". Unless you are an industry expert you will, like me, probably not know who any of them are (especially as it does not show who they have worked for and which games they worked on) and not be of interest to the reader - but they do occasionally provide quirky anecdotes and reference some of their own titles.
Having followed The Art of Video Games wesbite with interest from an early stage, including participating in the voting process, I was pleased with the choice of the final games included. Whilst they were chosen by the fans rather than professionally it may not necessarily reflect the most artistic of games, it's better to read & reminisce about the popular ones as most like me tend to be more familiar with them. If nothing else it's fantastic that some masterpieces from the past like Panzer Dragoon Saga, Final Fantasy 7, Shenmue, Goldeneye, and The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time to have some modern day recognition!!