While researching this book, I discovered some amazing gems worth checking out. The following are recommendations for ways to take the themes of Gamish further, by exploring things that either inspired the book or just chime with its ideas.
Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture by Johan Huizinga.
In the book, Huizinga theorises that all of human culture and achievement stems out of play. In the book he shows how animalistic play evolved into art and ritual, and then how those things evolved into more complex cultural concepts like law, philosophy and science.
Wonderland: How Play Made The Modern World by Steven Johnson.
In this rich tapestry of stories from human history, Johnson tells the story of how play and games shaped our world. It’s full of great stories, covering everything from prehistoric bone flutes to modern computing.
Replay – The History of Video Games by Tristan Donovan.
Probably the most comprehensive single book on the history of video games, and full of interesting stories from across video game history and culture.
Pilgrim in the Microworld by David Sudnow.
An early and seminal piece of games writing that wonderfully captures the trippy early days of the arcades.
Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown.
A wonderful graphic novel about the invention of Tetris, which also explores the reasons why games move and compel us.
Console Wars: Sega vs Nintendo – And the Battle That Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris.
A fast-paced history of Sega’s battle for market dominance against Nintendo. Full of interesting behind-the-scenes info from a marketing and business perpective.
Masters Of Doom: How two guys created an empire and transformed pop culture by David Kushner.
This book captures the rock star story of John Carmack and John Romero as they ushered in the creation of Doom, the legendary and controversial first person shooter that revolutionised video games.
Ten Things Video Games Can Teach Us: (about life, philosophy and everything) by Jordan Erica Webber and Daniel Griliopoulos.
A fascinating way to learn about philosophy: through the medium of video games! This is well worth a read for philosophy students and game designers alike.
Death by Video Game: Tales of obsession from the virtual frontline by Simon Parkin.
An amazing journey through the dark heart of gaming, uncovering the stories of gaming’s potentially deleterious effects on us. In no way an anti-gaming polemic, it’s a balanced exploration of this very complex medium.
Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal.
An optimistic look at the positive role games can have in our lives, and how play will be crucial to the future of our society.
Games, Schools, and Worlds Designed for Violence by Jacob Geller.
Fascinating video essay exploring the correlations between violent video game level design and modern architecture. It’s a unique look at how game worlds and the real world can echo and influence each other. Geller’s other videos are also worth exploring, mostly on the theme of video games and architecture.
Unforseen Consequences: A Half-Life Documentary by Noclip.
Noclip do top-quality making-off documentaries about big name video game franchises. For me this is the best pick, a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at how Half-Life was made, and how it revolutionised the video game industry.
Minecraft, Sandboxes, and Colonialism by Folding Ideas.
An interesting analysis of the colonialist values that underpin so many of our favourite video games.
Speedrunning is Awesome, and Here’s Why by H.Bomberguy.
A compelling primer on the culture and practice of speedrunning. This video helped me finally appreciate and understand the art of the speedrun.
Level With Me by Robert Yang (radiatoryang)
Game designer and NYU Tisch School of the Arts lecturer Robert Yang’s series Level With Me gives a very entertaining and detailed look at level design. For the level design aficionado there’s loads to glean from his videos, though they may be too in depth for everyone.
Matt Lees and Quintin Smith head up Shut Up and Sit Down, my go-to board game review site. Their Cool Ghosts You Tube series brings their quality analysis to video games. Matt Lees’s analysis of the game design of Breath of the Wild is recommended.
Tropes Vs Women by Feminist Frequency
This hugely influential series kick started mainstream discussion of gender representations in video games. These essays draw on classic academic work on gender in media and apply them to video games in an accessible and entertaining way.
This BBC series explores various themes in video game culture. A nice introduction to some interesting ideas about games and what they mean to us.
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters by Seth Gordon
A feature-length documentary about one man’s bid to claim the world record high score on Donkey Kong. Exploring the amazing world of competitive gaming, and the human stories behind it.
Indie Game: The Movie by James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot.
With unprecedented access behind the scenes, this movie follows the heartbreak and joy involved in the creation of three indie gaming gems: Fez, Super Meat Boy and Braid.
Atari: Game Over by Zak Penn.
This amazing documentary gives a detailed account of the rise and fall of Atari, which culminated in the burial of 700,000 unsold games in a New Mexico landfill.
Thank You For Playing by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and David Osit.
An intimate and moving documentary which follows Ryan and Mary Green as they support their infant son through terminal cancer, all while creating a game about the experience: That, Dragon Cancer.