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The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  132 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
In the forty years since the first Magnavox Odyssey pixel winked on in 1972, the home video game industry has undergone a mind-blowing evolution. Fueled by unprecedented advances in technology, boundless imaginations, and an insatiable addiction to fantastic new worlds of play, the video game has gone supernova, rocketing two generations of fans into an ever-expanding univ ...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published March 5th 2012 by Welcome Books
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The Horologicon by Mark ForsythThe STREAM TONE by T. GillingThe Signal and the Noise by Nate SilverJust My Type by Simon GarfieldThe Art of Video Games by Chris Melissinos
2012's Best Nonfiction for Geeks
5th out of 19 books — 7 voters
Okami Official Complete Works by Michelle Kirie HayashiThe Art of Bioshock Infinite by Ken LevineThe Art of Alice by Dave MarshallThe Sky by Yoshitaka AmanoSf25 by Capcom
Best Videogame Art Books
26th out of 65 books — 22 voters

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Community Reviews

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Dec 14, 2013 Rob rated it it was ok
Shelves: technology, art
If you grew up playing console games at home, and if you're looking for a nostalgic picture-book to pick up now and then and idly flip through, this will be a fine addition to your coffee table.

It's difficult to take it any more seriously than that — if you try, you're likely to be disappointed.

The first thing you need to understand is that the selection of games was not selected by video game experts, historians or museum curators. No, the 80 games were selected based on the results of an open
Nov 15, 2012 Parka rated it liked it
Shelves: art-books

(More pictures on my blog)

This is the companion book for the exhibition of the same name, held at the American Art Museum from 16 March 2012 to 30 September 2012.

The book title is quite broad, and maybe ambiguous. This isn't an art book with pretty pictures or concept art of video games. Rather, it's about the evolution of video game graphics, the artistry of making video games. All explained in a brief and simplified manner.

Since this is an exhibition companion book, it's not surprising it's no
Jan 14, 2013 rhea rated it really liked it
This is a book based on an art exhibition that was at the Smithsonian, I wanted to go, but it was not possible. Last I read it traveled to Boca Raton, there is a list of where it goes from there, I would love to see the exhibition in real life. The book is going to make a great addition to my other coffee table giant books. It's pretty, interesting, and fun. If you don't care about video games you might not care or you might learn something. The interviews with different designers and such was m ...more
Kim Pallister
Mar 31, 2012 Kim Pallister rated it it was amazing
[Disclosure: I was on the advisory board for the exhibit related to the book]

Over the course of 2010/2011, I was privileged enough to be invited by Chris Melissinos to sit on the advisory board for the Art of Video Games exhibit he was putting together for exhibition at the Smithsonian. I recently got a copy of the book Chris authored in parallel with it, also titled The Art of Video Games and had a delightful time going through it.

The book is a large format hardcover coffee table book. It is li
Guy Chapman
May 07, 2012 Guy Chapman rated it really liked it
Visually, this is a wonderful looking book. The images are crisp and clear, and very well detailed.

That said, the choices used to cover each system and era seem random. Some games make perfect sense. Other titles just seem far too obscure, and not really a game that particularly innovated or defined a system, or was even a visual wonder of its time. Someone clearly felt that multiple Mario, Zelda, and Panzer Dragoon titles could sum up the whole of modern gaming on their own. For four titles per
Aug 21, 2012 Andy rated it really liked it
Shelves: hardcover, owned
I bought this at the museum exhibit in DC this spring. I heavily skimmed it when I bought it but will now go through and read it.

Very enjoyable. Lots of critiques about how it is incomplete (games represented, industry figures interviewed). That may be true, as there are many games I'd have liked to see here. However, it was well done and resonates well for anybody that started playing Atari and now plays the current generation of consoles.
Aug 19, 2012 David rated it it was ok
Shelves: games-computer
Meh. If you're going to sum up 40 years of video game art by showcasing only 80 games, it's likely that every gamer will think there's a few glaring omissions. But with only 80 games to tell the story, why include the likes of Pitfall II, and why highlight three different Panzer Dragoon games? A few of the game designer/programmer interviewers were good, but no better than what Google could dig up for you. So unless you want the dimensions of a coffee table book, I think you'd be better off with ...more
Tim Lapetino
Mar 23, 2015 Tim Lapetino rated it really liked it
A really solid and high level overview on some of the more popular and influential video games from the industry's birth up to the present day. While it doesn't dig terribly deep into defining or differentiating between creative arts, programming and development, or the constellation of activities that surround imagining video games, the book seems to be a great introduction to its main idea, and a good companion to the Smithsonian exhibit of the same name.
James Bowman
Aug 27, 2015 James Bowman rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, non-fiction
An artbook tied with an exhibit at the Smithsonian a few years back. It's not deep, but it is interesting to see a selection of video and computer games viewed from an artist's perspective. (B+)
Erika Schoeps
May 25, 2013 Erika Schoeps rated it really liked it
I finished this book in a day, it was really fantastic. The pictures were great (they started getting crappier as the games started getting better). I didn't read the interviews, but they looked okay. But what I really thought was spot on was the description of how the games they were showcasing contributed to the art world. I love video games, but I've never been the one saying, "GAMES ARE ART", proudly and defiantly. This book made me see where I was wrong. I thought the analysis was spot on a ...more
Aug 05, 2013 zxvasdf rated it liked it
Nothing really impressive and probably works best as a coffee table book. It still manages to evoke whimsy—those were the days, of ostracized geeks trailblazing an entire industry into a multi-billion cash cow.

I'm partial to the 8-bit, as that was my generation. I cut my teeth on the Nintendo and grew into the SNES. The Art of Video games give due credit to many of these games as forerunners in their particular vision.

Oct 14, 2012 Dean rated it liked it
Would've really liked to give this book a higher rating. Physically its a very handsome tome with proper 'coffee table' heft and nice glossy pages. The main issue at hand is the poor choices in layouts and images selected. Images of some current games were clearly not taken at the highest image quality and the majority of selected images were poor choices that does not do proper justice to the game itself.
Chris Aylott
Oct 07, 2012 Chris Aylott rated it liked it
Nice coffee-table book tied to an Smithsonian exhibition of video game art. I enjoyed the games chosen and the interviews, but the layout doesn't *quite* work for the earlier games -- blown up on the page, they look even rougher than they did on the TV screens of their time.

It's not a big problem, I just feel like they needed more inset pictures so readers can see the games as we did at the time.
James Wayne Proctor
May 05, 2013 James Wayne Proctor rated it really liked it
Good program for a fine exhibit. Reading this really brings home the infancy of the form. Tremendous milestones have been achieved, some of which are appreciated by the curator. He does heavily favor Nintendo and Sony, making it more subjective than comprehensive. Programs from early Star Trek conventions were probably similar, raising geek ire over this or that overlooked gem. It's a good start.
Sep 03, 2013 Alyson rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Unfortunately abbreviated but ultimately interesting video game art book. Wish there were more variety to the games presented (instead of several indistinct titles from the same series), and more Square Enix/LucasArts titles, but what was there was presented well. Definitely a nostalgia trip for me, even though it barely scratches the surface of video game art.
Jun 19, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it
This is a book about the artwork of various video games from the very beginning up until recent times. The pictures remind me of the past, and the text is interesting. I didn't care for the interviews though.
D.S. Cohen
Jan 07, 2013 D.S. Cohen rated it really liked it
Read my book review of The Art of Video Games at...
Minecraft is mentioned in this book's catalog record; hence the reserve list? :)
Jan 03, 2013 Brian rated it it was ok
Shelves: technology
I'm puzzled by the selections, and omissions.
Devineni Pallavi
Aug 14, 2013 Devineni Pallavi marked it as to-read
Brian marked it as to-read
May 22, 2016
Kat rated it it was amazing
May 18, 2016
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