The 10 best books about games

I’ve been a reader of gaming related literature for some time now, with books about game design, culture and history taking up valuable space on my shelves.

These are what I think are the best 10 that I’ve read over the years.

10: Hyrule Historia


Despite being probably my favourite gaming franchise, I’ve never really been a fan of the timeline for the series Nintendo officially announced a few years ago. It felt rather shoehorned in and too retro-fitted as opposed to being something they’d planned all along.

When I was given Hyrule Historia as a gift I therefore assumed it would just be a fleshing out of the timeline and thus not interest me – but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s so much more. It goes into detail about design decisions, references to other games, unused assets, and little known facts about characters and places in the games. It’s a must-read for nay fan of the franchise.

Hyrule Historia isavailable here from Amazon.

9: Console Wars: Sega vs Nintendo


The original ‘console war’ and by far the most fascinating, this book covers in great detail how Sega, the plucky quirky upstart took on the at-the-time undisputed king of the industry that was Nintendo. 

Featuring over 200 interviews from the key players at the time, it provides a fascinating insight into the underhand tactics and sheer audacity of Sega’s rise to the top of the industry in the 90’s. It’s a must read for gamers, but also for people interested in the general matter of fighting uphill battles in the business world.

Click here to check the price from Amazon.

8: The 100 Best Videogames


There are countless compilations of the best videogames ever, but despite being some years old Edge’s collection is my favourite.

Beautifully presented, each game’s inclusion is justified superbly, giving you truly compelling and convincing reasons to play each game.

It also helps that I agree with the top-ten…

Sadly, copies are pretty rare, occasionally popping up on Ebay for quite a lot.

7: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How they can Change the World


A completely different type of book, Jane McGonigal offers a passionate idealist defence of the importance of videogames and the positive influence they can and do have on the world. It came at a great time for me as I had started to find myself question the value of spending my time playing games, as I’m sure many of us do. Very easy to read and tough to put down.

It’s available here from Amazon.

6: 1001 Videogames to Play Before you Die


My go-to tome when I feel at a loss for what to play, and it acts as something of a bucket list for me. It’s a great collection, and whilst not as well presented or well-written as Edge’s Best 100 Games, worth having for the sheer scope of its content.

Click here to check the price on Amazon.

5: Replay: The History of Videogames


For my money this is the best account of the entire overarching history of the medium. If you’re interested in the industry as a whole and the key moments of the last 40 years that have shaped it, Tristan Donovan’s work here is the best way to discover it.

It’s available here from Amazon.

4: The Ultimate Guide to Videogame Writing and Design


This book does exactly what it says on the tin, and is frankly compulsory reading for anyone thinking of delving into the world of videogame production. The best thing about the book is that it covers all angles and aspects of game design – from coding, creative design, marketing and even legal aspects. A fascinating and important read.

Click here to check the price from Amazon.

3: Sensible Software


A fantastic insight into one of the world’s most influential early videogame companies. It accounts the fascinating story of the humble beginnings, staggering rise and ultimate demise of Sensible Software through the 90’s – a brilliant read whether you’re into gaming or not.

Click here to check the price from Amazon.

2: Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals


The best book out there on pure game design theory. Katie Salen somehow manages to produce a unifying theory for every and all types of game – and not just the digital kind. Reading this will only serve to enrich your understanding game design and game theory.

Click here to check the price from Amazon.

1: Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World


As something of a die-hard Nintendo fan this it may be bias that this takes the number 1 spot on the list, but my word what an interesting read this is. The story of Tetris is worth the price alone, but anyone with even a fleeting interest in videogames owes it to themselves to take a trip back through history to learn about how Nintendo managed to conquer the Western world.

It’s available here on Amazon.