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This book right here is one of the best I’ve ever read about videogames. And I’ve read a whole bunch of them. It’s such a tightly-written, enthusiastic, motivating manifesto, it only takes about two chapters before you’re eye-buggingly pumped full of revolutionary energy and optimism about the future of videogames.

Anna “Dys4ia” Anthropy’s simple but excellent point throughout is that games are catering to a horribly narrow group, because they’re being made by young men who like the videogames that are (and have always been) made for men who like videogames. That needs to change. Anna wants game creators to proliferate now, and she’s dragging you along with her: almost literally, because about half the book is a DIY guide/clarion call to getting the reader started building their own games. It’s hypnotisingly hard to resist, as though Paul McKenna had written “I Can Make You Write Videogames”.

Unlike many books that drone on about their simple agenda forever, and many videogame books that tread slowly and predictably along the well-worn paths of familiar industry lore, Anna stomps purposefully along the shortcuts and the desire lines, racing through videogame history while effortlessly sucking you into the idea of the democratization of the medium. It actually makes you excited about playing all the amazing, surreal, groundbreaking, ingenious games that Anna’s dream community of hobbyist game makers hasn’t even invented yet.

Midway through, there’s an almost throwaway but incredibly profound point about how Blockade/Worm/Nibbler has, thanks to endless knock-offs and Nokia saturation, become generically described as “the snake game” wherever it appears — it’s become a kind of “folk videogame”, in the same way that we treat Chess as a generic, ever-present concept rather than the singular idea of long-forgotten inventors. I’ve never read anything that’s given me such a sudden and magical certainty that videogames are, one day, destined to match the cultural importance of traditional art forms.

Oh, and very early on Anna’s careful to namecheck the late, great Fukio “Rainbow Islands” Mitsuji (who amazingly didn’t have a Wikipedia page until yours truly created one). Full marks all round.

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