Rise of the videogame zinesters

Last week I read Anna Anthropy’s Rise of the videogame zinesters and it left a big impression on me. Having read a lot of books on video games, this one is something completely different. No programmer semi-gods this time (like in Masters of Doom or Hackers), no tough stories about manly men working 100 hour weeks in crunch mode (like in Jacked). No: this book is about human beings making games, everybody, not just the prototypical hetero cis men who have dominated gamer culture for so long.

Anthropy paints a bright picture in which games are created like ezines. She makes a very good point about video games needing more diverse personal voices and you don’t need to be a coder to let yours be heard. Mentioning a couple of tools you can use to make games without previous programming experience (like Twine), and talking about various examples, she convincingly attempts to liberate the art form from its prison in which men shooting men in the face is the norm.

This book appealed to me in so many ways it’s hard to summarize. Triple A games and gamer culture create an ecosystem which is often weird and off-putting for queer folk like me, so Anthropy’s inclusive stance is heartwarming. Creating a game yourself seems daunting, even to me, and I am nota bene a coder. Anthropy emphasizes the fact that you should just go and create, build stuff and don’t worry if it sucks. The result will always be personal and that’s something worthy and special in it’s own right! This is such a beautiful thought I actually read the end in tears.

I still love the books on games and game developers I have on my shelves and can never get tired about reading how John Carmack and Romero did their magic with ID software, but this book resonated with me in a way I never thought possible on this subject. If you want to create games like me, or you would like to read how this art form is opening up to a wider range of voices, I really can’t recommend it enough!