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Part critical essay, part manifesto, part DIY guide, and altogether unprecedented, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters shows why the multi-billion dollar videogame industry needs to change—and how a new generation of artists can change it. Indie game designer extraordinaire Anna Anthropy makes an ardent plea for the industry to move beyond the corporate systems of production a Part critical essay, part manifesto, part DIY guide, and altogether unprecedented, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters shows why the multi-billion dollar videogame industry needs to change—and how a new generation of artists can change it. Indie game designer extraordinaire Anna Anthropy makes an ardent plea for the industry to move beyond the corporate systems of production and misogynistic culture and to support games that represent a wider variety of human experiences.   Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is a call to arms for anyone who's ever dreamed of making their own games. Anna’s guide to game design encourages budding designers to bring their unique backgrounds and experiences to their creations and widen the playing field of an industry that has for too long catered to an adolescent male consumer base. Anna’s newest game, Dys4ia, an autobiographical game about her experiences with hormone replacement therapy, has been featured in The Penny Arcade, IndieGames, and TigSource.  


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Part critical essay, part manifesto, part DIY guide, and altogether unprecedented, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters shows why the multi-billion dollar videogame industry needs to change—and how a new generation of artists can change it. Indie game designer extraordinaire Anna Anthropy makes an ardent plea for the industry to move beyond the corporate systems of production a Part critical essay, part manifesto, part DIY guide, and altogether unprecedented, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters shows why the multi-billion dollar videogame industry needs to change—and how a new generation of artists can change it. Indie game designer extraordinaire Anna Anthropy makes an ardent plea for the industry to move beyond the corporate systems of production and misogynistic culture and to support games that represent a wider variety of human experiences.   Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is a call to arms for anyone who's ever dreamed of making their own games. Anna’s guide to game design encourages budding designers to bring their unique backgrounds and experiences to their creations and widen the playing field of an industry that has for too long catered to an adolescent male consumer base. Anna’s newest game, Dys4ia, an autobiographical game about her experiences with hormone replacement therapy, has been featured in The Penny Arcade, IndieGames, and TigSource.  

30 review for Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cow

    Okay! This book is half essential manifesto, half terrible. So, .. three stars? The good: Chapters 4-7, plus the appendices, wherein the author makes the case that video games are in need of revolution, and that that revolution is in the same way zines brought it to publishing: everyone creating, everyone sharing, everyone evolving. (And everyone getting to tell their own stories.) This is solid, emotional, and excellent stuff. And it also is backed up by the appendices, which give examples of the Okay! This book is half essential manifesto, half terrible. So, .. three stars? The good: Chapters 4-7, plus the appendices, wherein the author makes the case that video games are in need of revolution, and that that revolution is in the same way zines brought it to publishing: everyone creating, everyone sharing, everyone evolving. (And everyone getting to tell their own stories.) This is solid, emotional, and excellent stuff. And it also is backed up by the appendices, which give examples of the tools and of games made in those tools by individual people, so you can see what's out there, download it, play with it, open it up and see how it works, and then make your own things. (The chapter which takes you through the brainstorming process, showing you just how many stories are in your head, is beautiful.) Seriously, if this concept is at all appealing to you, get this book, read the middle bits, and then start messing around with the tools. Get out there and create. The bad: The rest, especially chapters 2 and 3, which I recommend everyone skip, because wow, there is so much wrong in them. (Wrong as in factually incorrect, not as in 'I disagree'.) But here's the best quote, which isn't a factual thing, just a ... wow, this is where my eyes rolled so hard I dropped the book. From page 67, where she's discussing the differences between the Eastern and Western game traditions using two very carefully chosen examples (i.e. I can think of a dozen counter-examples off the top of my head). "Why has character creation remained such a fixture of American interpretations of digital role-playing games while Japanese role-playing games have phased it out? It could possibly reflect that America is a young country, and a nation that has been capitalist almost since inception." Basically, it feels like the book is in dire need of editing. There is a lot of beauty and power in here, and a very essential message I wish more people could see, but you have to get around half a book that should've been left on the editing floor. (It manifests itself in lots of little ways, too--one example where the author refers to something in "the next chapter" which is actually in an appendix, so probably moved.) However, given that the editor wrote a five-star review of the book herself, I'm guessing the actual editing wasn't the priority here. Which is sad, because it leaves a kernel in a raw husk, rather than bringing it out and making it solid. (I've got a separate rant on the author's apparent loathing of all things fantasy, and how she completely ignores the fact that concepts like elves and magic can be used in self-discovery and in telling your own story in ways outside the sort of daily drivel you'd find on Twitter. Be bored of World of Warcraft if you want--who isn't?--but don't dismiss an entire storytelling method. And please, *please* stop thinking that elves were invented by Tolkien and all this is derivative nonsense, because fantasy dates straight back to early religion and mythology, to the very core of the stories we've been telling each other since before we even knew how to write them down.) I'll stop with my ranting now. It really is a good book, and (as far as I know) the best, if not the only, one on this topic.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adrien

    2 stars? 3 stars? Fuck stars, whatever. There are things I like about this book: what it's trying to say, what it *does* say, the few passages I highlighted in the instances where Anthropy says them very well and very clearly. I wish it dug into things more deeply (the state of video game development, the worker burn out and how, exactly, that is influencing the games like it's claimed, or the ways in which games can force a person to embrace a political ideology and the consequences of that...) 2 stars? 3 stars? Fuck stars, whatever. There are things I like about this book: what it's trying to say, what it *does* say, the few passages I highlighted in the instances where Anthropy says them very well and very clearly. I wish it dug into things more deeply (the state of video game development, the worker burn out and how, exactly, that is influencing the games like it's claimed, or the ways in which games can force a person to embrace a political ideology and the consequences of that...) but, honestly, what I wish there was "more of" could fill an entire SERIES of books, and that was not what this one set out to do. Understandably. So as a primer, starter, manifesto, it's all right. It does its job. It has good things to say. It's got me asking questions even if it didn't answer the ones I wanted it to.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cari

    This book, which reads more like a loaded editorial than an analysis on gaming culture is a frustrating read. To begin, I was asked to read the book as part of an introductory course on video game history that was half analysis of the medium, and half game creation. Otherwise I wouldn't have bothered to buy or even finish this book. Anthropy does everything right as far as encouraging players to take advantage of little known sources like twine, or larger platforms like gamemaker to create, well This book, which reads more like a loaded editorial than an analysis on gaming culture is a frustrating read. To begin, I was asked to read the book as part of an introductory course on video game history that was half analysis of the medium, and half game creation. Otherwise I wouldn't have bothered to buy or even finish this book. Anthropy does everything right as far as encouraging players to take advantage of little known sources like twine, or larger platforms like gamemaker to create, well, anything. She makes the point that saturating the medium with games about pushing vaginal boxes, floppy dicks, or whatever nonsensical low brow humor you can imagine, is a positive turn for the industry as a whole. Yet many of her arguments lack the meat to really convince the reader if they should care about flash games over a square enix ios title or big budget "space marine shooters." The book lacks an awareness of the primary videogame audience, and singles out the niche hobbyists who ironically make horrible games to bring a greater message, a lobby on social awareness. And sure, the big guns in the industry aren't going to make games about anything that could jeopardize success. Anthropy simply takes a shit on reality, with shit games for ammo, and a lack of charm that doesn't forgive rebellion the way punk music took its own piss on the world. The worst thing about this book were Anthropy's unprofessional quips towards bloggers, schools, and ex girlfriends that really had little to do with her point about easy game making. Not only do I not care that you think so and so at said company got on your bad side, but you're sending a classless message to anyone reading the book at a scholarly level. There isn't much more to say about the book but again I will mention the lack of argument. At one point, Anthropy mentions that Japan makes games without character customization because of its "rigid" society, while America values individuality and includes more custom options. This argument completely ignores the value of franchise characters and how a specific identifiable character is key for a consumer base to latch onto. Also both countries switch roles often depending on game genres (action vs roleplaying vs simulation) All in all, don't bother with this book unless you're using it as an example of what not to do. There are plenty of online communities and resources that encourage quality game making at the amateur level. Gaming is more prevalent and varied than ever, especially with the advent of kickstarter. It's just not the right time for a rebellion.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    p 137-139What to Make a Game About? Your dog, your cat, your child, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your mother, your father, your grandmother, your friends, your imaginary friends, your summer vacation, your winter in the mountains, your childhood at home, your current home, your future home, your first job, your worst job, the job you wish you had. Your first date, your first kiss, your first fuck, your first true love, your second true love, your relationship, your kinks, your deepest secrets, p 137-139What to Make a Game About? Your dog, your cat, your child, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your mother, your father, your grandmother, your friends, your imaginary friends, your summer vacation, your winter in the mountains, your childhood at home, your current home, your future home, your first job, your worst job, the job you wish you had. Your first date, your first kiss, your first fuck, your first true love, your second true love, your relationship, your kinks, your deepest secrets, your fantasies, your guilty pleasures, your guiltless pleasures, your break-up, your make-up, your undying love, your dying love. Your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your secrets, the dream you had last night, the thing you were afraid of when you were little, the thing you’re afraid of now, the secret you think will come back and bite you, the secret you were planning to take to your grave, your hope for a better world, your hope for a better you, your hope for a better day. The passage of time, the passage of memory, the experience of forgetting, the experience of remembering, the experience of meeting a close friend from long ago on the street and not recognizing her face, the experience of meeting a close friend from long ago and not being recognized, the experience of aging, the experience of becoming more dependent on the people who love you, the experience of becoming less dependent on the people you hate. The experience of opening a business, the experience of opening a garage, the experience of opening your heart, the experience of opening someone else’s heart via risky surgery, the experience of opening the window, the experience of opening for a famous band at a concert when nobody in the audience knows who you are, the experience of opening your mind, the experience of taking drugs, the experience of your worst trip, the experience of meditation, the experience of learning a language, the experience of writing a book. A silent moment at a pond, a noisy moment in the heart of a city, a moment that caught you unprepared, a moment you spent a long time preparing for, a moment of revelation, a moment of realization, a moment when you realized the universe was not out to get you, a moment when you realized the universe was out to get you, a moment when you were totally unaware of what was going on, a moment of action, a moment of inaction, a moment of regret, a moment of victory, a slow moment, a long moment, a moment you spent in the branches of a tree. The cruelty of children, the brashness of youth, the wisdom of age, the stupidity of age, a fairy tale you heard as a child, a fairy tale you heard as an adult, the lifestyle of an imaginary creature, the lifestyle of yourself, the subtle ways in which we admit authority into our lives, the subtle ways in which we overcome authority, the subtle ways in which we become a little stronger or a little weaker each day. A trip on a boat, a trip on a plane, a trip down a vanishing path through a forest, waking up in a darkened room, waking up in a friend’s room and not knowing how you got there, waking up in a friend’s bed and not knowing how you got there, waking up after twenty years of sleep, a sunset, a sunrise, a lingering smile, a heartfelt greeting, a bittersweet goodbye. Your past lives, your future lives, lies that you’ve told, lies you plan to tell, lies, truths, grim visions, prophecy, wishes, wants, loves, hates, premonitions, warnings, fables, adages, myths, legends, stories, diary entries. Jumping over a pit, jumping into a pool, jumping into the sky and never coming down. Anything. Everything.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Valentin

    As a manifesto, it's really good. Inspirational, witty, interesting. Even with some aggression towards the popular game making "one percent", the book is far from whimpering and criticising. Many manifestos I've read were about how bad our world is. This one is quite the opposite: it's a story about how you can try and create something the way you probably never considered seriously. Something relevant for you. And about people who have been doing exactly that, with very interesting results. And As a manifesto, it's really good. Inspirational, witty, interesting. Even with some aggression towards the popular game making "one percent", the book is far from whimpering and criticising. Many manifestos I've read were about how bad our world is. This one is quite the opposite: it's a story about how you can try and create something the way you probably never considered seriously. Something relevant for you. And about people who have been doing exactly that, with very interesting results. And it's a really, really charming book. On the flip side, I think the book could tell a little bit about good stuff from "rotten" game developing industry. I admire works of some huge development studios, e.g. The Elder Scrolls series, or Fable. I think there is something good that can be learned and be found in these. I also believe that the brilliance of these games has started with their authors to-be creating small games for themselves, just like Anna teaches us to do. This book not just inspired me to create games, but showed me a couple of ways it's possible to do. I'm not talking about technical means, but about the sources of inspiration, the ways to find a story, the essence of games as opposed to any other kind of art. I'd recommend this book for everyone who is not opposed to creating something.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    One of the most inspiring books I've read in a long time. Anna's book is part manifesto about why games matter--they foster empathy and can be utilized in sharing experiences--and part how-to guide on creating personalized, small-scale videogames that buck the homogeneous, corporate-made publishing model that the industry relies on. It was one of the most inspiring books I've read in a long time. I really want to make a game now! I was thinking of writing a piece of interactive fiction in Twine.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Wolf

    If you are thinking about making a game but are intimidated by all the tooling options, or scared that it won't be "good enough," this book is for you. It's a great message that making games is for everyone, along with solid advice on how to get started. After years of talking about it, I finally made a game thanks to this book. Thanks!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    I'm not the target audience for this book. I play a lot of games, I've tried making them before, and I read Anna Anthropy's blog regularly. This book is probably for people who aren't so sure about this whole video game business, as it spends a lot of time talking about how games are usually made, and why that's a problem. The book talks about themes in games, and how limited they sometimes are, and how expansive they can be. For the most part, I knew all this stuff already. But the last chapter I'm not the target audience for this book. I play a lot of games, I've tried making them before, and I read Anna Anthropy's blog regularly. This book is probably for people who aren't so sure about this whole video game business, as it spends a lot of time talking about how games are usually made, and why that's a problem. The book talks about themes in games, and how limited they sometimes are, and how expansive they can be. For the most part, I knew all this stuff already. But the last chapter alone is a great step-by-step guide to "how to make a game", without any prior programming knowledge. Right now, as I'm writing this, I have the core message of the book in my head - I should stop writing this review, and go make a game. Right now. And even though I've previously opened up some of the tools talked about, I've ended up staring at a blank screen with no idea what to do next. Now I know - open this book again, and follow the instructions. I don't think you can ask much more from a book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Perez

    If you're interested in games and game-making, this book does a great job of offering some perspective on possibilities. You can start small, it is easier than ever, their are people you can find that are doing the same. She has some axes to grind that I don't, but I understand where she's coming from and that didn't get in the way of her message coming through clearly. And the appendices and guides to various tools -- sure they will age fast, but are great at pointing you in a direction to make If you're interested in games and game-making, this book does a great job of offering some perspective on possibilities. You can start small, it is easier than ever, their are people you can find that are doing the same. She has some axes to grind that I don't, but I understand where she's coming from and that didn't get in the way of her message coming through clearly. And the appendices and guides to various tools -- sure they will age fast, but are great at pointing you in a direction to make your way through a massive world of softwares and such. The next generation of this book will be an even better eBook -- putting all the games and the references a click away is one of the only things I'd change about the book (she does a great job of giving links to all the various games, but you'll feel a tension between wanting to stick with the thread of her thoughts vs. hunting down a long URL over on your computer / phone / whatever). I should've spent time with the references as I finished each chapter...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Book

    I am a big fan of Dys4ia. In fact, I like it so much that in secondary school I remember setting up a play session of the game on multiple monitors for one of our lunchtime Diversity Society meetings. I didn't know much about Anthropy then apart from what I could easily glean from the prose of Dys4ia: that she had clearly experienced a gamut of anxieties and transfigurations that HRT entails. The game, to me, was incandescent, and it helped me to better understand that experience which is so ali I am a big fan of Dys4ia. In fact, I like it so much that in secondary school I remember setting up a play session of the game on multiple monitors for one of our lunchtime Diversity Society meetings. I didn't know much about Anthropy then apart from what I could easily glean from the prose of Dys4ia: that she had clearly experienced a gamut of anxieties and transfigurations that HRT entails. The game, to me, was incandescent, and it helped me to better understand that experience which is so alien to me. The roughcut, Bitsy-like visual style of the game I felt helped to emphasise its thematics: the amorphousness and the indefinite nature of the self in transition. Because I am a fan of Dys4ia, I was excited to read Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, perhaps even to just peer into the mind of a creator who I have respect for. Maybe it's because of this anticipation that I was mostly disappointed with my experience of this book, and that it even somewhat dulled my reverence for its author's seminal game. I would like to emphasise, however, that I do not doubt the legitimate intentions of this book... I do not think that Anthropy wrote this sometimes touching, often motivating treatise about democratising game development in bad faith somehow. Rather, it's just that the execution of this book is... lazy, repetitive and oftentimes insensitive. One particular gripe that I had with this book is that there are several really rather sweeping statements permeating the text that attempt to encapsulate quite complex cultural attitudes and institutions in a kind of philosophical turn of phrase... but instead come across as embarrassingly off-key and culturally insensitive. I'm a fierce note-taker and highlighter in all of my books and many times I've scrawled 'Qualify this!' into this book's margins when Anthropy attempts another galaxy-brain take such as: "the way that film and photography have generally changed the focus of novels and visual art" (p56), "[Half life 2 is] A very clearly cinema inspired game" (p61) or "Both Eastern and Western videogame trends have their roots in Dungeons and Dragons" (p65). My personal favourite has to be, in the context of customisable characters: "In Japan, a much older country [than America] in which social roles are valued (and connected to uniforms), role-playing might more easily mean playing the role to which you've been assigned" (p67). It is excerpts like this that undermine any real academic tone that this book carries; Anthropy is too insistent on using conjecture as grist for her arguments. It would also be remiss of me to overlook the horrid example of the turn-based RPG 'Gang Rape' cited on page 59. Anthropy hails this as some sort of experimental meditation on one of the most egregious crimes imaginable (hitting us again with another of her brain-genius pithy observations: "Rape is about control") and an example of the educative power of ludology. I'm sorry, but this is purely crass... and it's moments such as this coupled with the above sophistry which mean that the book's endearing qualities such as its zaniness must be rivalled by its tastelessness. My second major problem with the book is less to do with the content itself and more to do with what I believe it wilfully ignores, what there's a privation of in the text... which is a mature and necessary appraisal of how you're also creatively restricted using the Bitsy editors and Halo Forges of the game development world, and a weighing of the benefits of creative restriction against the benefits of corporate resource. Granted, I was not so cognisant of the way that corporate videogame world worked at the time of this book's publishing, I was about 12 and didn't yet own my coveted PS3, but I think the way that Anthropy writes of the industry is maybe incommensurately irreverent... There are profoundly moving or cerebral games like, say, Shadow of the Colossus and BioShock developed and published by major corporations which Anthropy neglects to address. I feel as though Anthropy is also too fond of creative and visual limitations in games and conveniently glosses over how mechanical and visual fidelity can enhance the emotional core of personal experiences... it's as if this philosophy does not exist to her. Dys4ia is so beautiful and unique... but I think that it is also beautiful because it is so unique. There are only so many ways you can arrange the constituent parts of a game like that... there is a certain amount of diminishing returns working with such a small digital palette, and vast teams of people with specialised skillsets can serve auteur game development effectively (look at the works of Kojima, Ken Levine etc). The resounding philosophy of Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is that there should be more personal games to help saturate the market with experiences that diverge from the power fantasies of AAA gaming. It is a sensible, necessary philosophy and I would even say that I staunchly adhere to it! But as an entire book exploring this philosophy, the text is dreadfully incomplete and full of glaring oversights. I would have loved an exploration of historical precedents in other media, of the advents of personal cinema and television and so forth... perhaps even a few case studies of government grants funding popular indie games... For some reason, I come away from Rise of the Videogame Zinesters with a sense that it doesn't want its readers and practitioners to transcend severe technological limitations by expanding or specialising skillsets, to ever view ludology as something other than a slave to the humanities... and that it wants its readers to think that perpetual compromise is not something to overcome but to embrace... and I couldn't disagree more. Ultimately, after reading this book I have to say that, of both games writing as well as indie games themselves, I don't think that we need more... we need *better*.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ben Villeneuve

    This book is okay. I've never loved Anthropy's writing style or her idealization of raw, rough-draft game design (sometimes spending a long time on a thing is not the same as completely gutting its spirit! Sometimes spending a long time on an idea is the only way to make it reach its potential! Game jams are cool but they should not be the future of game design!), but her games are awesome and her creative voice cannot be denied. I think this book would probably work a lot better as a trio of bl This book is okay. I've never loved Anthropy's writing style or her idealization of raw, rough-draft game design (sometimes spending a long time on a thing is not the same as completely gutting its spirit! Sometimes spending a long time on an idea is the only way to make it reach its potential! Game jams are cool but they should not be the future of game design!), but her games are awesome and her creative voice cannot be denied. I think this book would probably work a lot better as a trio of blog posts, but I also can't help but suspect that that's what it started as. Either way, there's probably a valuable little something in here if you like games.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Grig O'

    if like me you grew up with computers, this book won't have a whole lot to offer, other than a host of links to games to be awed by. something like this was way more enlightening to me: http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle... - not to mention playing the actual games, which is the best way to learn but i'm glad to have read it and i sure hope its optimism will inspire some people if like me you grew up with computers, this book won't have a whole lot to offer, other than a host of links to games to be awed by. something like this was way more enlightening to me: http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle... - not to mention playing the actual games, which is the best way to learn but i'm glad to have read it and i sure hope its optimism will inspire some people

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    To echo a common sentiment about this book: It is indeed essential that a book like this exist, but a shame it was so sloppily written and fact-checked. But it definitely introduced me to a boatload of interesting games and concepts, and got me genuinely excited about the future of gaming. I also appreciated some of the witty asides.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kat Hulu

    Read previously. Probably should’ve been a zine? 😅

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dang Ole' Dan Can Dangle

    The Garage bands of the 60s and the punk bands of the 70s proved that anyone and a few friends can become musicians. Disposable and instant cameras allowed anyone to become a photographer. Camcorders and camera phones turned anyone into a filmmaker. Paper and ink, and later typewriters and computers, made everyone a potential writer. Crayons and fingerpaint...well, you get the point. Making an art form accessible and its tools widely available does a lot for the art. It demystifies the way thing The Garage bands of the 60s and the punk bands of the 70s proved that anyone and a few friends can become musicians. Disposable and instant cameras allowed anyone to become a photographer. Camcorders and camera phones turned anyone into a filmmaker. Paper and ink, and later typewriters and computers, made everyone a potential writer. Crayons and fingerpaint...well, you get the point. Making an art form accessible and its tools widely available does a lot for the art. It demystifies the way things are made and encourages participation, which leads to more and more artists. When someone can create art independently, without needing a large amount of money or having to worry about things like marketability, demographics, and profits, it makes experimentation more possible. Experimentation can lead to innovation, innovation to evolution. The mass availability of creative tools does something else as well: it helps us appreciate any given medium even more. When you realize just how something is made, you better appreciate its craftsmanship. It isn't until you pick up a camcorder and record a shaky Christmas morning video, or snap a blurry photo, or hear a recording or your own attempt at singing, or try to draw a cat and get something more like this, that you realize there's some actual talent going into the greater works. On the other hand, it may also help you realize a talent you would have never otherwise discovered you had. A young kid drawing his own comic book (as I'm sure we've all tried) learns either one of two things: (a) that comic writing/illustrating isn't for him, or (b) that he really enjoys writing/illustrating comics and might even be half good at it. The latter would then be prone to pursue this idea and may find a lifelong career/interest in it. What I'm driving at, as if you haven't guessed already, is that Video Games don't quite have this demystification and accessibility yet. Everyone and their mothers know how a novel is written or a movie is made, but most people, even many gamers, know about as much about the what and how of making a game as they do the building of an atomic bomb. They may have some faint, unsure ideas about it, but they'd, unlike with writing or filming, most likely be inept at attempting or even explaining it. Programming languages seem like gibberish and coding seems like a sort of black magic. The entry barriers for Video Game creation are too high. Which is precisely why the medium has been almost exclusively controlled by major corporations for so long. That's all changing though. It has been for awhile now. Not only are more people learning to program, but programming languages are getting simpler and simpler. The development of games is slowly being demystified and the tools becoming more available. Anyone with a computer can make a video game, even if they have little to no programming knowledge at all. And, even more importantly, they can do it for no cost at all. It's cheaper to do than any other of the mediums because it's the only one that's non-physical. Everything's done on the computer (which everyone has), even distribution. As far as materials go you need even less than you would for a film or band. The tools are there, all that's left is the know-how. I, for one, can foresee the day when people will sit down and make a Video Game just as someone might scribble a doodle, or record a home video, or write a diary entry, or snap a family photo, or hum some made-up tune. It's an exciting prospect; one that seems almost inevitable. It's certainly a thrilling time to be a gamer. Anna Anthropy's book, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form, which I of course bought because I am a freaky yet normal amateur artist who dreams of dropping-out and becoming a queer housewife, attempts to serve as a sort of manifesto to this thought. The philosophy it supports is no doubt a good one, unfortunately its execution is anything but. I should start by saying that I am a bit of an Anna Anthropy fan--I think her game "dys4ia" is one of the most expressive and compelling things ever created--which only makes this book all the more a letdown. Don't expect elaboration or serious analysis from this book. It never really explores the main idea it subscribes to. In fact, in the first few paragraphs of this review I discuss the idea of accessibility to art as much as this book does, if not more. I'm not kidding. There's even some things I touched on that the book failed to even mention. All Anna really does in this book is repeat the doctrine of taking the art form away from the rich companies and putting it into the hands of everyday people. You'll hear roughly the same sentence proclaiming this idea numerous times throughout the book. Really the only follow-up to this thought is that Video Games currently have very narrow-minded perspectives (i.e. rich company perspectives) and that Video Games generally fail to offer any worthwhile perspectives; something that of course could be corrected by giving more people the opportunity to express their own view. She's obviously correct in her observation, I just wish the word "observation" could have been plural. Again, reading this book will make you little more wiser than reading this review will (and having read a few of my reviews, that's not much). The book says essentially all it needs to say in its first chapter. It could have easily been essay length or even published as an internet article. There's no sense of escalation as the book progresses, there's no building upon ideas or any sense of build-up at all. In fact, the title of the book is really all you need to read. It says about as much as the text: Rise--okay so something new is happening--of the Videogame--it has to do with video games--Zinesters--and it implies an independent, D.I.Y. approach--How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You--to how everybody can--Are Taking Back an Art Form--make games now. It doesn't go much deeper than that. What it does offer are some great recommendations to some games you've probably never heard of. Most of which are available for free online, so you'll definitely end up playing some new games after reading this. Unfortunately Anna's descriptions of gameplay are largely boring (unlike the descriptions in Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter ), so you really are better off just playing the games. She also offers some suggestions in programs to use for people who lack programming knowledge. Some of them you've probably heard of (Game Maker, Games Factory), others probably not (Knytt Stories, ZZT). Unsurprisingly, the two Appendixes, one dealing with software to use to make games and the other dealing with recommended games made using such software, are the most useful parts of the book. So the book isn't completely worthless. There's some good suggestions and you'll probably find a helpful word of advice here or there. The problem is that, despite it's length, it doesn't really tell me more than a Google search of "free video game making software" or "the best flash games" could have. Its ideas are too few and its execution too boring to get anyone really excited about making games who wasn't already excited. Video Games as a more personal expression, a more individual vision, a more zine-like mentality is something that should happen, something that will happen. But you don't need this book to tell you. Fails as an academic work, fails as a guide, and fails as an account of pop culture. Not worthless, but hardly worthwhile.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dessa

    “It’s possible that your interest in digital game creation is purely academic and doesn’t extend to becoming an author. In that case, I hope what you take away from this book is that the videogame isn’t the creation of a corporation, but if an author, that this form is important, and that people are using it to do exciting things. What we call a videogame is not a product. It’s the creation of an author and her accomplice, the player; it is handmade by the former and personally distributed to th “It’s possible that your interest in digital game creation is purely academic and doesn’t extend to becoming an author. In that case, I hope what you take away from this book is that the videogame isn’t the creation of a corporation, but if an author, that this form is important, and that people are using it to do exciting things. What we call a videogame is not a product. It’s the creation of an author and her accomplice, the player; it is handmade by the former and personally distributed to the latter. The videogame is a zine.” This book is a a kind of relief and grief in its pre-gamergate optimism and hope and sheer toughness. Maybe exactly what we need in a post-gamergate world. Because we can still take back videogames from corporations, we can still build and tweak and love them ourselves and leave them weird or short or strange or intimate. And we should. The parallels between zine culture and indie game culture are very cool when pointed out this way and I wanted - I still want - more.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa G.

    Contrary to my expectations, only the first few chapters feature scholarly content. Anthropy gives reasons why most big games resemble one another in many ways and criticizes the videogame industry and its culture of crunch before explaining why there is a need for fresh ideas and individual creators of indie games. The rest of the book is part manifesto, part manual: The author invites everyone to create their own games and discusses first steps and tools for doing so. This can be inspiring and Contrary to my expectations, only the first few chapters feature scholarly content. Anthropy gives reasons why most big games resemble one another in many ways and criticizes the videogame industry and its culture of crunch before explaining why there is a need for fresh ideas and individual creators of indie games. The rest of the book is part manifesto, part manual: The author invites everyone to create their own games and discusses first steps and tools for doing so. This can be inspiring and useful to all those with a vague desire to create videogames, but no idea how to start. (Note, however, that it's dated: It came out in 2012.)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brittney Arafat

    I enjoyed this book. It was unique and has me interested in making my own games. Also I tried some of the mentioned games and am glad for the opportunity to experience different gaming perspectives.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Roger Whitson

    Anyone who has ever loved games and thought about making their own games — even if that thought lasted only a half a second before they felt intimidated by programming — would cherish this book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    This is a great book on video game history and theory and self publishing. I read it to think about applying game dynamics in consumer software development.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jake Hollman

    Excellent read! Very inspiring, and it will definitely help me in my future endeavors!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    WARNING: will make you want to make videogames

  23. 4 out of 5

    Audre

    Inspiring

  24. 4 out of 5

    Fil Krynicki

    I recently finished [Anna Anthropy](http://www.auntiepixelante.com/)'s book [*Rise of the Video Game Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form*](http://www.amazon.ca/Rise-Videogame-Z...). The book acts as a manifesto and roadmap to democratized game-making with an as-close-to-zero-as-possible skill barrier. Anna argues that this is what is necessary for games to be expressive and individual. *Zinest I recently finished [Anna Anthropy](http://www.auntiepixelante.com/)'s book [*Rise of the Video Game Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form*](http://www.amazon.ca/Rise-Videogame-Z...). The book acts as a manifesto and roadmap to democratized game-making with an as-close-to-zero-as-possible skill barrier. Anna argues that this is what is necessary for games to be expressive and individual. *Zinesters* was an enjoyable read that nonetheless provoked a lot of "hmmm" notetaking from me. While this may read as a criticism, think of it instead as my "yes, and" continuation of the thoughts within. This book isn't really "for me". I'm (basically) an engineer, and cross most of the skill barriers Anthropy identifies. This colours my perception of her argument. The common analogy throughout *Zinesters* is sketching. All people know how to sketch, and game design should be more like sketching. Anthropy describes the spontaneous rule and process generation of children playing Tag. I think programming actually *is* a natural embodiment of this process, and that our focus should be on making it easier to express logic rather than obfuscate or hide it in systems. Children learn how to visualize and then how to sketch; right now in our society they learn to think up rules, but not how to express them. I'm not sure we should [teach everyone to program](http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomiogero...), but I think sketching may not be the right analogy for a medium that is about expressing rules. The sketching analogy, and tools which succeed at it, feed into Anthropy's argument that systems that are limited (mostly by virtue of obfuscating some part of the "rules" (i.e. code)) breed creativity. I **100% agree with this**. Unfortunately, this is sometimes taken to be two-way, such that creativity can *only be* the product of constraints. I hope that people who enter game creation through constrained systems are able to transition into less constrained systems that require more expertise. There *is* something to be said for the expressive power to achieve a vision. Another component of Anthropy's vision for the future of games is length. *Zinesters* comes across a bit like it's exclusively promoting "flash fiction", one or two hour experiences. I don't think the value of long games should be ignored. First, not all ideas can be communicated via rules in a short period of time. Second, it ignores time as a component of an experience. I would argue that the lost wandering feelings of Proteus or Skyrim are contingent on their continued presence in a person's life. So many games I've played are clever and thoughtful but flash in and out of my consciousness in minutes, unretained. Chapter 3 is where the book gets particularly good, and starts offering generalizable frameworks for thinking about games. I'm not sure if Anthropy is the original progenitor of the nouns/verbs/sentences structure of describing games, but it is a powerful tool. It is here that Anthropy says her main interest in games are as story*telling* tools. I wish *Zinesters* gave a little more attention to story *generation*. In Chapter 7 she describes a process for game making. The examples which feature story define the path down which the player progresses and the story they will *participate* in. In this model, gameplay seems to serve either as an optional exposition tool (for example, porpentine's [howling dogs](http://aliendovecote.com/?p=2709)) or as metaphor (Anthropy's own [dys4ia](http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view...)). I develop stronger attachments through *ownership* than *participation*, in which an experience I have with a game feels uniquely my own and a product of my actions. In story-generating games, gameplay acts to cut the possibility space and to impose consequence. This component of games is what excites me most, and feels underserved in *Zinesters*. The fifth chapter, the last for which I scribbled notes, is my favorite. Anthropy, through personal anecdote, succeeds in communicating that you do not have to start your life making games to make games now. It is a bit of prose which really makes you feel as though you could, with no knowledge, make a video game by next week. Furthermore, it is here that she espouses the authoured model for games, in which a single vision carries something from start to end. She glorifies game-making as a short-term act of wanton creation. This vision fills in the blanks of gaming: not only should games be refined, difficult to build technical peices, but also scribbled post-it notes and doodles in the margins. If we are to have a medium of creation than it should be as much the domain of the talentless and unskilled as it is the domain of the experts. It would be hard to have a nicer take away message than that.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Dunlap

    If there was one thing I could say about this book, it's that it's worth a read. I'm currently a student studying English and computer science with the desire to pursue a career in game design. So, naturally, this book caught my eye (how couldn't it; do you see that awesome title??). Anna Anthropy, the author of this book, offers a lot of encouraging words, and has some amazing points to make. The book, however, it not perfect. A few things annoyed me about it that I feel like are worth mentionin If there was one thing I could say about this book, it's that it's worth a read. I'm currently a student studying English and computer science with the desire to pursue a career in game design. So, naturally, this book caught my eye (how couldn't it; do you see that awesome title??). Anna Anthropy, the author of this book, offers a lot of encouraging words, and has some amazing points to make. The book, however, it not perfect. A few things annoyed me about it that I feel like are worth mentioning. First: it's a bit repetitive. The overall chapters of Rise cover a variety of relevant topics and flow very well, but it seems like there is an excessive amount of re-summarizing what was just said in the previous section. I understand that this was probably done in an attempt to make more direct connections among the various topics and tangents, but it kind of got on my nerves. "It's absolutely essential that there be more creators passing on more values, more perspectives." Yes, yes I know, that was the whole first chapter and you said it in the previous chapter, too. Was it done for emphasis? I'm not sure, but it kind of felt patronizing. Or maybe I'm just bothered by weird things, I dunno. Second: "her" and "my submissive." I know this book is about the importance of more people making more personal, diverse games. The author continually referred to their significant other as "my submissive," which I understand might be accurate, but it seems pretty unprofessional and kind of - explicit? - for a book that is supposed to be appealing to a wide variety of people. I have nothing against non-traditional relationships or terms of endearment, but it really felt out of place. Same with the consistent use of "her" as a pronoun. On one hand it was kind of cool to see "her" as the default, rather than "he" or "they," and that is probably the statement trying to be made. But again; is this really the place to be doing that? I'm female, and I don't like the default "he," either. However, I just use "they." It's less jarring for the reader. It's an interesting point to make to use "her," but in a book that is supposedly unrelated to the dominance of masculinity on our culture, it's - like I said - jarring. Especially since it is used in discussion of a field stereotypically (and statistically) dominated by men. It would be one thing if a character was used (like "take for example a game designer, Susie. She prefers to..." etc) as a representation of a generic, atypical game designer. Or, if it was more clear that the author was talking in third person. But this is conjecture, I digress. I also disagree with the strongly apparent distaste for AAA games and game development in the book. "The videogame industry has spent millions upon millions of dollars to develop more visually impressive ways for a space marine to kill a monster." ... In some ways, yes, and I appreciate the type of call to action this implies. But it's completely diminishing. What about the incredibly fluid and procedural character interactions in Shadow of Mordor? What about the immense dedication to the characters and world of Mass Effect? What about the beautiful resolution of The Last of Us? What about Dom and his wife in Gears of War (advertised falsely as mindless violence)? There are a lot of good things that have come out of large-scale development that would never have happened if it wasn't an industry wrapped up in so much spending. That's not to say that working conditions aren't by and large horrible for designers, and that it does create the issue of game design being impersonal, which led to this book being written. But some of my best, most memorable gaming (or narrative) experiences have come from the games that Ms. Anthropy seems to brush aside in one big pile of shite. Third: I feel like there should have been more information about the creation of physical games. I know the book is called Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, but as the creator of both physical and digital games, I'm a huge proponent for the development of both. Physical games don't provide quite the room to flex your narrative, experimental, and personal muscles, sure. But they are much easier to produce on an individual level than video games and are an excellent gateway into game design. Distribution is more of an issue unless you make the game printable, but again, it's a great starting point. But other than my subjective disagreement and nitpicking, I feel like I got a lot out of reading Rise. I've since started working with both GameMaker and Twine. Most importantly, I came away inspired. I would recommend this to anyone with a creative mind. Not interested in the tech aspect of making games? It doesn't matter. You don't need to, and this book will help you get started.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    This short, provocative book by a noted developer is partly a simple introduction to making your own video games, and partly a manifesto which calls for broader representation in games through making them easier for individuals to make as a form of self-expression. Its arguments are well-cited and compelling, though it hardly purports to be totally objective; indeed, the author makes it pretty clear that it mostly comes from her own experiences as an alienated player of titles which have clearly This short, provocative book by a noted developer is partly a simple introduction to making your own video games, and partly a manifesto which calls for broader representation in games through making them easier for individuals to make as a form of self-expression. Its arguments are well-cited and compelling, though it hardly purports to be totally objective; indeed, the author makes it pretty clear that it mostly comes from her own experiences as an alienated player of titles which have clearly been designed to appeal to a relatively narrow conception of what it means to be a gamer. I’m tired of this too, but some self-identified gamers tend to get pretty annoyed about this kind of thing. The very fact that the author has no hesitation in referring to video games as art might be enough to frustrate some who define their hobby as simply a matter of pure entertainment, and thus not to be judged by any higher moral standard. But it’s harder to disagree with the basic argument here that if more individuals (not large corporations) are making their own games, there can only be a net benefit to the culture as a whole. I think we’re already seeing the influence of indie success on the development of big games, and though they’re still intensely limited in terms of what and who they represent, it does seem like things are slowly changing for the better. It’s harder for me to agree with the author on other points. I don’t believe that it’s necessary to choose between the idea of the game as expression or the game as mindless entertainment – many titles of all sizes do both well. It’s quite possible to enjoy tiny, personal games and big, dumb games – and just because a game is about dumb or offensive things, it doesn’t mean that a player has to buy into those things in order to enjoy its component parts. So when the author writes something like this... ‘...there’s far more value in the collective content of YouTube – even given that there are more piles of trash than treasure – than in the collective content of a television network, simply as a function of the number of people contributing and the overwhelming volume of their contributions.’ …my response can only be to ask: to *whom* is the complete content of YouTube of more ultimate value? It seems to me that one could not exist without the other, since the thing which drives people to post oneself on YouTube is born out of the same desire which watches others (on the internet or on TV) and wonders what it would be like to exist in their place. It isn’t necessary to hold one up against the other and ask which is better when it’s quite possible to accept and enjoy both for what they are. Most people do! The simple fact of more games and more diverse content might be better for the games industry as a whole, but it doesn’t necessarily change the fact that much of that content might not be very good or particularly interesting. Yet I don’t think that mediocre content is actually much of a problem. As with YouTube or blogging or twitter, if you find something that boring or actively offensive, chances are it just isn’t intended for you. There’ll be someone out there who it is for, and even if it’s only one or two people that alone makes it of value. The temptation is to judge games differently in this regard because they still have all this baggage of having to be constantly stimulating and always exciting and never at all dull. I don’t know. All I can really conclude is that there is no right or wrong way to make a game. This is not to say that games cannot be bad, or contain things which are actively offensive or malicious -- but none of those things necessarily stem from their being made as products of individual self-expression or of a large and experienced company. Individual prejudice can poison a game just as corporate groupthink and constant compromise can water down its original intentions. Games can be amazing and inspiring and moving, and I would love to see a world in which everyone can make their own little games and swap them in a kind of constant universal conversation. On the other hand, there are few things I enjoy more than sinking into a chair to escape into a world carefully crafted by a team of dedicated professionals. I want a game to tell me a story, to give me an experience, and the greatest stories and experiences aren’t always about self-expression in the most literal sense.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nick Cummings

    Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is, like the title says, an account of how games are finally a medium for the masses and no longer the exclusive product of big corporations and strict publisher-developer business models. It's a good thing that this is happening, and it's great that author Anna Anthropy recognized that this movement needs more people to both document and champion it. This book, in a mere 208 pages, is a short history of games and their makers, a declaration of independ Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is, like the title says, an account of how games are finally a medium for the masses and no longer the exclusive product of big corporations and strict publisher-developer business models. It's a good thing that this is happening, and it's great that author Anna Anthropy recognized that this movement needs more people to both document and champion it. This book, in a mere 208 pages, is a short history of games and their makers, a declaration of independence, a personal narrative, a sociopolitical discourse, a how-to and resources guide for aspiring game-makers, and a light introduction to noteworthy independent games. It's a lot of content to cover in a handful of chapters, and realistically, you could fill tens of thousands of pages worth of books just documenting the indie games movement. Anthropy wisely chooses to distribute her focus rather evenly on these topics throughout. The result is a book that feels brief but resonant. Anthropy's personal story for game creation is fascinating when she deigns to dive into it. Her account of the time she spent studying at Southern Methodist University's Guildhall program is particularly compelling, especially since that program continues to be ranked among the "best" game development schools but is so clearly disinterested in empowering individuals. But there's also a lot that's left out, such as the work she did in the years immediately after she moved to California. There's a pretty satisfying account of her first steps into game making, but I'm sure she has even more valuable insight to share as she worked to refine her skills over the past few years. Anthropy's perspective as a transgender author and her role as one of the first Newgrounds success stories are noteworthy and help empower her argument against the commercially driven homogenization. Her voice is confident and she makes a compelling argument on her own, but it would have made the book all the more compelling if she'd sought out more voices as well — more of the "freaks, normals, amateurs, artists, dreamers, drop-outs, queers, housewives, and people like you" she's addressing. There's also the brief history of the games industry, which seems to have included almost out of some perceived notion of necessity. It helps make the book feel more complete, and that context is absolutely necessary to understand the origins and motivations behind the independent games movement, but it's so short and sparing that I found myself wishing she'd simply suggested some other, more comprehensive histories of games to read. And then there's the do-it-yourself component, which helps illustrate that the path to game development doesn't have to be a harrowing and overwhelming one if you identify your tools (appendix A), study the work of contemporaries (appendix B) and approach the challenge one step at a time. Anthropy wisely relegated this content to the end of the book in order to end with a catalyzing message for her readers. It certainly did the trick for me; moments after closing the book, I hopped online to download a copy of Twine and began looking for a long-abandoned concept I'd drawn out for a Knytt Stories adventure. The book's greatest shortcoming — and it's an inevitable one — is that it teases so many interesting perspectives on independent game development but merely alludes at the interesting experiences they hold. Then again, this book is the product of an independent individual, almost like a zine that's dressed up in a nice paperback format. But so what? It's not billed as a comprehensive history or a step-by-step instruction book that guarantees the reader a lucrative and satisfying career as a dapper, roguish indie developer. What it is, beyond any doubt, is the book Anthropy wanted to write to spread the message she felt needed to be shared. And the fact that her message is contained in a deeply personal and refreshingly frank book that doesn't sweat all the details is exactly the way a zinester would do it. This isn't the last word on bringing independent games and game development to the masses; it's a call to action. With any luck, it won't be the last.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mjhancock

    I wouldn't go so far as to call it a manifesto, but Antropy's book is definitely edging toward screed in her argument supporting the development of homebrew, indie-made games. Her model for how she would like to see games work is the zine: intensely personal for the author, creative, cheap and easy to make, easy to distribute in low levels. The book is divided into eight chapters. She starts by talking about what's wrong with the videogame industry: essentially, that it puts industry before vide I wouldn't go so far as to call it a manifesto, but Antropy's book is definitely edging toward screed in her argument supporting the development of homebrew, indie-made games. Her model for how she would like to see games work is the zine: intensely personal for the author, creative, cheap and easy to make, easy to distribute in low levels. The book is divided into eight chapters. She starts by talking about what's wrong with the videogame industry: essentially, that it puts industry before videogame, and it's making games first and foremost for the same white, male clientele it always did. Chapter two looks at the history of videogames, and how it used to have various forms of more populous distribution. From there, she talks more generally about what a game is, and what value it has in society at large. And how modders and hackers change games to reflect their own values: she talks about super Mario hacks, machinima, sampling, and mods. Further chapters offer useful examples of such games, and a general discussion on how these indie games are made, and how to make your own. The book ends with two very useful appendices, one listing good tools to start making games with (Twine, Gamemaker, Inform 7 and so forth) and another listing some games Anthropy finds inspiring: Sonic 2 XL, The Baron, and Digital: A Love Story, among others. It's an intensely personal book, as Anthropy (sometimes rather bluntly) details her own falling out with the larger videogame industry, and her own path to unleash the creativity she wanted to use for creating games. I'm not crazy about her industry/regular people distinction; it's got some truth to it, and it highlights some of the more glaring problems with the industry at large, but it's still overgeneralizing. Valve is not EA is not DoublFine and so forth. Still, it's a very passionate yet practical guide to why making your own game is important. I mentioned to someone that this book would make a good pairing with Ian Bogost's more scholarly-oriented How to do Things with Videogames, and it would: Bogost's book is on generating ideas for games, and Anthropy's is on how and why those games should be made.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    I think Anna Anthropy's has done great work in spreading a sort of punk rock DIY mentality to game creation, and her articles and interviews are always a treat. I found this book to be curiously lacking in passion and depth, however. The title (and statements she's made in interviews, etc.) made me expect an inspirational manifesto, but while the book was logically structured and informative, it lacked much in the way of impact. There wasn't much about people "taking back an art form," instead t I think Anna Anthropy's has done great work in spreading a sort of punk rock DIY mentality to game creation, and her articles and interviews are always a treat. I found this book to be curiously lacking in passion and depth, however. The title (and statements she's made in interviews, etc.) made me expect an inspirational manifesto, but while the book was logically structured and informative, it lacked much in the way of impact. There wasn't much about people "taking back an art form," instead the central thesis was more like "Hey, you don't have to be a formally educated programmer to make games. Here are some tools that reduce the barrier to entry." The "freaks, normals, amateurs..." subtitle hinted there would be some discussion about the democratization of game development, and how marginalized people were using games as a powerful tool for self-expression, but that topic was only touched upon. One of the appendices introduces some indie games, but the discussion was fairly superficial and there wasn't much to suggest why these particular games are important beyond being made by one or two people and having an offbeat concept. Another appendix suggests tools an aspiring game designer could use to get his or her feet wet, but while interesting, this section is also disappointingly brief. This wasn't a bad book, per se, just not as radical and impassioned as the title suggested and not as substantial as I had hoped. I'd still recommend Anna Anthropy's work to people interested in game design, but they could probably benefit just as much by saving their $15 bucks and reading some of her blog posts and interviews instead.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ryandake

    what a fabulous little book for people who don't program, love games, and want to make their own. part screed, part practical advice, this little gem will help you alter the way you think about videogames as an experience. like a lot of over-15 gamers, i adore games but often cannot find anything i want to play if i'm not in the mood to shoot something, put an arrow in it, slice it in half with a sword, zap it to cinder with my magical electrical powers, burn it up with my fire spells... you get what a fabulous little book for people who don't program, love games, and want to make their own. part screed, part practical advice, this little gem will help you alter the way you think about videogames as an experience. like a lot of over-15 gamers, i adore games but often cannot find anything i want to play if i'm not in the mood to shoot something, put an arrow in it, slice it in half with a sword, zap it to cinder with my magical electrical powers, burn it up with my fire spells... you get the idea. and it's been disheartening lately, with game manufacturers putting out sequel after sequel, promising you the Next Best Call of Duty but saying that they won't be investing in the Next Best Portal. Game manufacturing, at least on a large scale, has gone Hollywood. ya, i get why, but it still makes me sad, and leaves me feeling like videogames will be forever an unexplored medium. and along comes Anna Anthropy, and tells me "fuck that! make your own." ya. i'm liking it. once she's done with the screed part and with convincing you to make your own, she gives a really good run-down of how a game gets made, what thought processes are needed, what tools you can use, and how to level up your own game making. it's not a comprehensive book, and what you learn here isn't going to get you a job at Bethesda. but if you just want to see some small videogames that don't require you to kill something to feel good about yourself, she makes it eminently clear that you really can do that. all by yourself. so yay! i'm off now, to do a little more research, and then go make a game.

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