At my desk at Telltale, I have a small library of books that I use as my key reference materials in new media and the only textbooks of value with-in my New Media work.
“The Language of New Media” by Lev Manovich
This is the number one book I state as required reading for any individual working in any electronic media in any form. Yes, I’m that board in my assertion. This is a very accessible academic text that provides the right kinds of question about the wide world of New Media. Lev spends most of the book using a film criticism background as a starting point in analysis of New Media texts including video games, 3D animation, and et all.
“The Ultimate History of Video Games” by Steven L. Kent
While there are other books that focus on specific periods and or projects in the game industry, the Kent book is a good compressive history from the beginnings of the industry till around 2000 with the idea of Microsoft working on the Xbox. The beginning of the book is pretty much all about Nolan Bushnell, but then moves boarder when the history starts containing more people and stories. The only real setback I have with the book is the lack of pictures. While there is a section in the middle of select photos, being able to put the face to a lot of the names would make the book better.
“The New Media Reader” edited by
This book is a collection of hidden diamonds of influential text in New Media. While some of the texts seem to be dry and irrelevant, but as you read a section, you then realize how it was the foundation of much larger things in technology and New Media.
The first thing to note is the CD that comes with the book. It includes emulators and software of various key applications like Spacewar! and video such as Douglas Engelbart‘s first presentation of the mouse, word processor, hyperlink, computer-supported cooperative work, video conferencing, et all.
The book itself contains some standards such as the GNU Manifesto and selections from Marshall McLuhan. Then there are the other selections such as “The Lessons of LucasFilm’s Habitat” which is a postmortem of the first MMO that ran on Commodore 64. A lot of MMOs wouldn’t have gone so wrong had the creators read this article.
“Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud
This is a art criticism book for comics and graphic novels by illustrating points in graphic novel format. Scott does a great job in explaining concepts of drawn images which can be applied not only to comics but visual displays of any form. The chapter on time is especially wonderful!
“Supercade: A Visual History of Video Games 1971-1984″ by Van Burnham
This book I hesitate to include because it doesn’t completely hit the mark. The book starts out with a quick but decent history of early video game and leads into a catalogue of video games in the era. However, the book’s text turns more into a nostalgia-porn where the contributers talk about their play time with the piece and not actually about the piece. While certainly the oral history of game play is important, doing so for each title makes every entry read the same.
So why bother including the book in this list? It’s a good visual cross-reference of titles from the era.
What am I missing?
Got suggestions to add? Love to hear from you! Comment and tell me about it!