Push Start: The Art of Videogames

The question of whether video games can be considered a form of art is almost as old as the games themselves. Here's a book which shows of the art in print. Push Start: The Art of Videogames

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Without question, video games are a wonderful, interactive medium; each has a unique style with oodles of drawings, sound and music, so why there's even a debate about whether they are art is beyond us and the chances are if you're reading this you agree.

Granted some of the earliest games had limitations resulting in functional graphics, and these may only seem like art retrospectively, but with the passage of time that utilitarian look is no less able to stir emotion than conventional art, due largely to our nostalgic connection with them.

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This impressively presented tome is certainly not confused about whether games are art or not. From the interestingly textured cover emblazoned with the unofficial symbol of video games - the space invader- we can instantly discern that the subject has been given the respect it deserves.

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The look of the book is more mature than usual for books on this subject and displays the true range of games as art - not just DOA swimsuit poses as is so often the case. As we retro gamers mature, we're less inclined to keep dog-eared magazines lying around, so it's nice to have a handsome volume like this to grace the coffee table. Also not lost on us in this age of tablets and PDF files is how nice it is to have a hefty book in ones hands once again and to see these images in print lends them a certain credence.

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With Push Start, we get a unapologetic celebration of video games as art which is divided into several sections: early, 8 bit, 16 bit, arcade, 3D etc. The actual artwork is the focus here and it isn't until we reach the very back of the book that we find several pages devoted to a very convincing case for games as art, as if it were needed. But it's inclusion does make clear the passion for which the author has for the topic. This is more than a glossy selection of screen grabs. It also features a brief pictorial guide to the popular systems, but this is a small section and hasn't had the attention of the games themselves. There has been no compromise in the presentation.

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The images are laid out with lavish disregard to the page real estate and is concerned only with presenting them in most aesthetically pleasing way, be that a central image with large blank margins or a double page boarderless spread. A small amount info is provided with each image so as not to intrude on the image game title of course as well as year, system and as a reminder that not all art is visual, the music composer is often included too. We've noticed that the listed systems is often not exhaustive, but this isn't meant to be a reference guide, so that's a little nit-picking.

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There are some odd omissions however. Many games which have been standard barerers for games as art are not represented. Rez for example whose ground-breaking visuals and soundtrack would have made an ideal subject isn't included. With the thousands of titles in the history of gaming and so much space being devoted to the images, it obviously wasn't going to be possible to include everything.

The book is generous enough in it's scope and girth. It's a treat to pour over these carefully selected, glossy images and give them the time they deserve without worrying about losing any lives. The image selection on offer is often surprising which keeps each turn of the page fresh and interesting. A great deal of effort has clearly gone into choosing the images to ensure variety.

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Very unusually for a book on video game art, it's good to see that music hasn't been ignored. In celebration of which were delighted to discover a vividly coloured vinyl record slipped inside the back cover, featuring cover versions of some instantly recognisable game tracks. There's also an mp3 download code hidden in the dust sleeve for those without the necessary hardware.

This welcome addition is a real treat and a great addition which rounds off the package and really adds to the extravagance of the presentation. Here is a book which doesn't look apologise for the beauty of video game art, but to rejoice in it.

Review by @clammylizard

Get yours with 5% off using code: GYL at www.funstock.co.uk

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