V. Briceland's Reviews > Replay: The History of Video Games

Replay by Tristan Donovan
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Jun 09, 2011

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As a history of an industry younger than some pop music stars, Replay: The History of Video Games works well. It's exhaustively researched, contains extensive interviews with the programmers and idealists who built the computer games movement from the ground up, and has not only a thorough bibliography, but a glossary and extensive list of video game systems and their specs in the back.

Donovan's approach, however, is to chronicle beginnings—the germs of movements that lead to popular trends in the gaming industry. He's not that big on following up hose trends in any but the most cursory manner, however, leaving the reader in the curious position of having to fill in what happened later on. There's quite a bit, for example, on the development of the original Nintendo Famicom, the device that proved that the video game industry had not crashed irrevocably—there's remarkably little on any of Nintendo's follow-up devices, however. And for all the betrayals and scheming that went into the Playstation's eventual production, there's nary a mention of its popular later iterations; the Xbox is barely mentioned. Similarly, the book delves deeply into the origins of MUDs and of Ultima Online, the progenitor of later MMOs . . . but barely a mention of World of Warcraft, the most popular of all.

Donovan's tendency to trail off after he's established a thread can be irritating, but admittedly, he's got a lot of ground to cover here. That he manages to obtain as much depth as he can muster here is remarkable at all, given the glossy subject matter.
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