Although video games entered pop culture in the 1980s, their roots date from much further back. In fact, as Hennessey (The Comic Book Story of Beer) argues in this detailed, if sometimes too cutesy, history, electronic gaming developed not as an offshoot of the computer revolution but right alongside it. Hennessey traces electronic gaming’s roots to America’s sprawling postwar military-collegiate-research ecosystem, which used games to experiment with and display the uses of early computer technology. The line from the first game—which was actually named the Cathode-Ray Amusement Device of 1947—to Minecraft isn’t a clear one, and at times Hennessey gets a little lost in the weeds. The book’s jumpy approach helps batch gaming evolution into its component parts, from the MIT origin mythology of the pioneering open-source game Spacewar to the influence of role-playing games and the later console battles. In his graphic novel debut, McGowan supplies lively caricatures of key players in a fluid, realistic style, which break up what could be endless pictures of computer consoles. For anybody wondering how we went from Pong to Pokémon Go in just a few decades, this history is a great starting point. (Oct.)"For anybody wondering how we went from Pong to Pokémon Go in just a few decades, this history is a great starting point." —Publishers Weekly
“A highly entertaining book that will resonate with gamers and nongamers alike. Grades 9 and up.”—School Library Journal
“Full of interesting information and insight.”—Kirkus
"[A] thorough, entertainingly illustrated account of an often overlooked corner of pop-culture history."
—Peter Blenski, Booklist
“The idea of telling the history of video games in a graphic novel is a radically inventive idea, and Jonathan Hennessey and his team have done an amazing job of it. It is chock full of fascinating stories about the people who laid the foundation for the technologies we take for granted today. I wish my history textbooks from high school had been this cool. I highly recommend this book!” —Warren Davis, designer/programmer of Q*Bert
“The Comic Book Story of Video Games is fun, smart, and informative, all at the same time. Hennessey manages to be scholarly, too, as he blends forty years of sources, putting mysteries in context and settling controversies. The illustrations by Jack McGowan are terrific and appear lively enough to spring from the page.” —Dona Bailey, Atari programmer of Centipede11/01/2017
Gr 5 Up—Hennessey traces the history of video games, concentrating on the scientific bases for current technology. He provides brief explanations of cathode ray tubes, oscilloscopes, computers, and the inventors and politics that spurred their growth. The author also examines shifting attitudes toward computer games and their evolution into a major commercial industry. As the narrative progresses, the explanations of chemistry and mechanics fall away and individual developers become the focus. The last sections feel hurried because topics such as Internet or handheld gaming lack historical perspective. The use of popular characters and iconography and the garish coloring jazz up a potentially dry or unfamiliar subject but feel out of place. Cameos from Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario are far too whimsical alongside historical figures such as Alan Turing. VERDICT Video gamers may get a comprehensive sense of the complicated, accidental origin of their favorite pastime, as well as the opportunity to pay brief honors to the individuals who made it happen. But this amiable take is not structured or sourced, making it less than ideal for collections looking for authoritative resources on the topic.—Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH2017-07-03
The popular progression of video games as rendered in graphic narrative.The subject would seem to be a natural for the comic-book treatment, which can show as well as tell, but the contextual expanse here and the narrative tone result in a work that is less breezy and playful than one might anticipate. Hennessey (The Comic Book Story of Beer: The World's Favorite Beverage from 7000 B.C. to Today's Craft Brewing Revolution, 2015, etc.) and McGowan introduce readers to Japanese history and culture, which, along with World War II (and its emerging technology), the Cold War, the space race, science fiction, and the emergence of the home computer and the internet, they view as essential to their story. The result is a very ambitious history, more than most in this format, which doesn't even reach Pong until it is almost halfway through and in which Nintendo doesn't emerge until nearly the end. Hennessey's previous work includes graphic treatments of The United States Constitution (2008), The Gettysburg Address (2013), and Alexander Hamilton (2017), and his method includes spotlight chapters on major figures in the development of gaming, most unknown outside the video game industry. The author and illustrator show how video games developed from their pre-computer incarnations through their popularity in arcades through advancements in special effects and portability. They explain how hackers pushed the technology of gaming forward, how devices developed for war craft found their way into game craft, and how rivalries among and within corporations have turned competitively vicious. The book ends with speculation about how virtual reality technology and corporate data collection might continue to inform not only the world of gaming, but the world at large. Full of interesting information and insight, but nongamers may bog down in the details.