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Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age, 1971-1984
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Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age, 1971-1984

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  163 ratings  ·  17 reviews
From Pong to Pac-Man, Asteroids to Zaxxon - more than 50 million people around the world have come of age within the electronic flux of videogames, their subconscious forever etched with images projected from arcade and home videogame systems.
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published September 30th 2001 by MIT Press (MA) (first published September 1st 2001)
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Start your review of Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age, 1971-1984
David Glenn Dixon
Washington City Paper
Arts & Entertainment : Book Review

No Quarter
By Glenn Dixon • December 7, 2001

If you think videogame history is in its infancy, just get a load of videogame historiography. Stick to the stuff in English and it makes for a mighty short bookshelf: Scott Cohen's "Zap! The Rise and Fall of Atari" follows the industry pioneer into the murk of the 1983-1984 cartridge-system crash. David Sheff's well-reviewed "Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your
Fresno Bob
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
beautiful representation of the visual imagery of old school console and arcade games
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I sought this out for Nick Montfort's contributions and for the subject matter. What I found was a disjointed coffee table book with editing problems and black pages that absorb oils like crazy.

Van Burnham edits the collection and presumably writes the copy for the myriad games (arcade and home) that dot the pages in timeline order between 1971 and 1984. A broad selection of guest authors fill in the rest, and these articles range from fairly interesting to mailed-in copy.

A few of the articles
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great illustrations, skipped most of the text but my tech-oriented brother-in-law seemed to like it.
Tim Lapetino
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a fantastic and gorgeous read, a high-level visual history of classic video games. With excellent screenshots, box art, and images of consoles, the author does a great job of covering the birth of video gaming as we know it. Great graphic design and just enough in-depth text make this a great coffee table book with quality meat on its bones. Even though the book itself is more than a decade old, the presentation and design feel pretty fresh for the material. Highly recommended.

Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: games
Some of the historical accounts are a bit shallow, e.g. offhand I know the there's a lot more interesting story behind MS-DOS and PacMan than is included in their respective articles. But the brevity is understandable given the encyclopedic breadth covering individual games from the very beginning - essentially a page per game with the text essentially embedded in a splash of color photos that give the whole book a video game feel.

The careful narration of the early days and inventors along with
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly engrossing for anyone, like me, who came of age during the rise of the video game. Both the home console and the video arcade are covered in detail from the extremely obscure to the ubiquitous cultural icons. Built around a timeline that incorporates product launches, business deals, oddball trivia, and software launches one would be hard pressed to find a more complete picture of an era viewed through the prism of video games. Visually stunning, with a foreword and introduction that ...more
Peter Smith
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Books about video games have generally turned into self-promoting art books for games that weren't that great in the first place. This book, while matching the heft and visual design of any of these books, turns its eye to the past and explores all the early games along with the first video game systems and gives them the coverage they deserved. Certainly my nostalgia for these games informs my love for this book, but I think the book gives these games the long overdue respect they deserve (in ...more
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
had so much fun reading this... even tho it is an over-sized coffee table book not necessarily the easiest to cozy up with in bed! Really interesting to learn the history behind different consoles and games that I love playing!
Jonathan Keiser
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: gamers, nerds
I have yet to fully absorb this coffee table book, but it's amazing photographs and completely relevant contributors make it an amazing piece of work. I love it.
Steven Kent
Certainly the best coffee table book on the history of arcades. This book has the prettiest layout, the most photographs and some good articles.
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
a visual treat bringing u t a world of how videogames and how they get their look
Sep 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The most golden memories of my childhood are captured in this book. I suppose that says something about me, but I'm not the least bit ashamed.
Morbus Iff
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, games
Beautiful book that smudges too easily.
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great visual history of the early video game era. Recommend reading with gloves -- the black pages instantly absorb fingerprints!
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-read-books
Brings back lots of memories of lost quarters.
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Van's MySpace page can be found at She is a former contributor to Wired magazine, lives in Los Angeles, and has a large arcade collection.