rise of the videogame zinesters


are you ready for a guildhall story? one of the books we were assigned to read was “the ultimate history of videogames” (the title of which has proven inaccurate, my book having been published after it) by itdoesntmatterwho. and it was terrible, misinformed, and extremely selective, telling the story of the handful of corporations the author was most fixated on as though it was the entire history of the form. i was complaining to my teacher that the author couldn’t even be bothered to research the spelling of some designers’ names, when he told me that all videogame history books were “fanboy ravings,” i think his words were.

“maybe someday you’ll write the first real history of videogames,” he added. i couldn’t decide at the time (nor have i been able to decide since), how patronizing or not he meant that. but i realized, writing chapter two of rise of the videogame zinesters, that i was doing just that.

but zinesters is more than a history. it’s a manifesto, a call to action, a do-it-yourself guide, an autobiography, in places. it’s an attempt to shift the balance of our dialogues about videogames a little. when our culture discusses videogames, it mentions corporations, blockbusters, and a hyper-masculinized “gaming” culture. rarely does the idea of the small, authored, self-published game get much air in our discussion of art, even though it’s these games that are the most important to games’ relevance to a broader range of human experience. nothing is more harmful to an art form than a monolithic perspective or the restriction of the means of creation to a privileged few. this is how jeanne, my editor, pitched rise of the videogame zinesters to me twoish years ago.

i owe jeanne so much: in addition to suggesting book, she worked tirelessly as my advocate in a publishing industry that was entirely alien to me. many of the metaphors are hers; sometimes i can’t tell which words are mine and which are hers. it’s her book as much as it is mine, and if it weren’t for her, rise of the videogame zinesters would still just be an escapist article about the printing press.

find a bookstore carrying zinesters near you!

the book is IN STORES today! you can use this website to try and find a store near you that carries it. it’s also on amazon, but i prefer that you buy it in a bookstore if you can – that means the bookstore has to keep it in stock. if your local store doesn’t carry it, ask them to order it! you can use amazon to preview the book, though – there are  a lot of pages online if you click on the book’s cover. yes, there is a kindle version.

and yes, i’m still raising money for my book tour. i’m currently planning events in boston. if you want me to bring the message of zinesters to as many places and people as possible – that everyone, not just corporations, can make games, and that the existence of those games enriches us and our culture – consider tossing a few dollars toward my tour!

19 thoughts on “rise of the videogame zinesters”

  1. I just finished the second chapter and I really like it so far. The grassroots approach to vidcon design is incredibly important to prevent stagnation and to get out alternate points of view, but until I read this I didn’t know how bad it really was with these modern gaming companies!

    An excellent read, so far!

  2. Congratulations! And thank you for writing about the kinds of games I’ve spent the last ten years of my life making and defending – you and I don’t always see eye to eye, but it’s good to know that there are others who believe in something beyond corporations and so-called gaming culture, and that this sentiment can find its way into the greater discourse.

    I’ll be buying the book as soon as I can afford to.

  3. I should be picking up my copy from Harvard Bookstore today.

    Does that mean they’re carrying it for reals, or did they just order it for me special-like? :-/

  4. Is anywhere in Britain stocking this, or will I have to order it from America?

    Whatever the answer, I plan on reading this and I’m looking forward to it.

  5. (1) Anna is the best and if she wasn’t awesome and a wicked good writer the idea of this book would never have occurred to me to pitch. I’ll admit I suggested some metaphors but the ratio is like 99.9999%/.0001%

    (2) I also agree everyone oughta buy it from indiebound/indie bookstores if at all possible. BUT CONSIDER: I believe Amazon’s ranking of the book increases just when people drop by their site. This means that the book starts to rise onto top 50-20-10-etc lists for anyone searching for a book on, say, “video games” or “how to make video games” (as I write this it’s already #50 in the Games/Strategy Guides section overall) and such people may not know about Anna A yet, and should! So if you’re going to buy and you’re in the US and you want to get a BONUS ACHIEVEMENT for helping to spread the word, go ahead and buy from Indiebound for sure for sure, but ALSO hit up the Amazon page here AS SOON AS YOU READ THIS: http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Videogame-Zinesters-Drop-outs-Housewives/dp/1609803728/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332296196&sr=8-1 to help raise the book’s ranking/profile and get to people who wouldn’t necessarily ever go to an indie bookstore. (I love that it says “Rise-Videogame-Zinesters-Drop-outs-Housewives” in the URL btw)

  6. Amazon claims it is not yet released! But I have ordered. :) Transperson, gamer, writing my own posthuman transsexual manifesto for quite some time. Hopefully I can relate, find your experiences interesting and also be intellectually stimulated.

  7. we just reviewed my contract, and it looks like it might be more? but buying it in person helps keep it on store shelves. so just get whichever more appeals to you.

    personally i like being able to hold a physical book in my hands and mark it all up with my greasy fingerprints.

  8. I know it’s not on your list, but you should come to Honolulu! I’m not sure how many people would come out to see you here, but, hey, you could kind of vacation and relax and stuff, right? ;D In any case, I’m gonna head out to buy your book and donate my (however small) $50 to your tour tomorrow morning! Good luck hitting the $5000 mark, you’re an inspiration to us all!

  9. Yeah, It’d be cool if you came to new orleans, but there’s pretty much nothing here. Except me! I’m cool. *tugs suspenders*

  10. Great! I just stumbled upon your website and just wanted to let you know I really like how you speak your mind I’m truly looking forward to reading your book.

    BTW, I fully agree on the “Ultimate History”: I really wonder why so many people cheers it while it’s nothing special. I love game history and old games are a big hobby of mine and the best, most objective book on the subject I read so far is “The Golden Age of Video Games” (CRCPress 2011). I would recommend it to your teacher :)

    Keep up the great work!!

  11. It is true! Apparently the Kindle version is not available…
    Is there another place where I can get the eBook version?

  12. I finished your book weeks ago. It seems like a really good introduction for those who haven’t quite made the connection of just how open game design is to newcomers. Also despite having been more or less obsessed with freeware games since preschool the list in the back threw some titles at me that I hadn’t run into before. Thanks for extending my game library and for the great read. I’ll be passing this book around for a while.

  13. Congrats! I found your book on a very cool second hand bookstore ın Istambul and I love ıt. Ill wıll try to send ıt to my brother ın South Amerıca.

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