Video Games

History, myths, and stories of the digital playground.



Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

By Jeff Ryan


How did a portly plumber in red overalls become one of the most recognizable characters in contemporary culture, rivaling Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny? Jeff Ryan unpacks the history behind Mario's advent, from his humble beginnings jumping over barrels in Donkey Kong to his commercial triumph, selling more than 40 million copies of Super Maria Bros. The flawed men and serendipitous happenstance behind his creation make it all the more surprising that Mario became such a global sensation.



Ready Player One

By Ernest Cline


In the distant future, everyone plays OASIS (imagine a massive, multiplayer game so real it feels like dreaming). Wade Watts is one of the countless players who would love to find the secret lottery ticket hidden in the game by its enigmatic creator -- and the power and wealth it supposedly grants. The key lies in nostalgia for the pop culture of the late twentieth century. Screenwriter Ernest Cline delivers a engrossing adventure steeped in geek.



Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

By Tom Bissell


Bissell, a self-declared video game addict, notes that his emotions while mashing buttons are "as intensely vivid as any I have felt while reading a novel or watching a film." Plenty seem to agree; an estimated 184 million Americans spent $18.58 billion on video games in 2010. The author explores the trend in a work that combines memoir with reporting from the virtual frontier.



The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon and Beyond

By Steve Kent


Using hundreds of interviews, gaming historian Kent traces the rise of video games from the arrival of the arcade version of Space Invaders -- which actually created a coin shortage in America-- through the year when Atari was felled as the dominant home video game maker by Nintendo, and on to the cultural juggernaut's continued effect on society today.




By William Gibson


This critically lauded and massively influential cyberpunk science fiction novel of 1984 foresaw the digital future (and inspired a home video game of the same name). Gibson, who coined the term "cyberspace", tells the story of a washed-up hacker's last shot at glory in a game-like world.



April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.