The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect

The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect


By (author) Chris Melissinos

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  • Publisher: Welcome Enterprises, Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 257mm x 264mm x 25mm | 1,474g
  • Publication date: 3 June 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 159962110X
  • ISBN 13: 9781599621104
  • Sales rank: 105,210

Product description

In the forty years since the first Magnavox Odyssey pixel winked on in 1972, the home video game industry has undergone a mind-blowing evolution. Fueled by unprecedented advances in technology, boundless imaginations, and an insatiable addiction to fantastic new worlds of play, the video game has gone supernova, rocketing two generations of fans into an ever-expanding universe where art, culture, reality, and emotion collide. As a testament to the cultural impact of the game industry's mega morph, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, with curator and author Chris Melissinos, conceived the forthcoming exhibition, The Art of Video Games, which will run from March 16 to September 30, 2012.* Welcome Books will release the companion book this March. Melissinos presents video games as not just mere play, but richly textured emotional and social experiences that have crossed the boundary into culture and art. Along with a team of game developers, designers, and journalists, Melissinos chose a pool of 240 games across five different eras to represent the diversity of the game world. Criteria included visual effects, creative use of technologies, and how world events and popular culture manifested in the games. The museum then invited the public to go online to help choose the games. More than 3.7 million votes (from 175 countries) later, the eighty winners featured in The Art of Video Games exhibition and book were selected. From the Space Invaders of the seventies to sophisticated contemporary epics BioShock and Uncharted 2, Melissinos examines each of the winning games, providing a behind-the-scenes look at their development and innovation, and commentary on the relevance of each in the history of video games. Over 100 composite images, created by Patrick O'Rourke, and drawn directly from the games themselves, illustrate the evolution of video games as an artistic medium, both technologically and creatively. Additionally, The Art of Video Games includes fascinating interviews with influential artists and designers-from pioneers such as Nolan Bushnell to contemporary innovators including Warren Spector, Tim Schafer and Robin Hunicke. The foreword was written by Elizabeth Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Mike Mika, noted game preservationist and prolific developer, contributed the introduction the introduction. *After Washington D.C., the exhibition travels to several cities across the United States, including Boca Raton (Museum of Art), Seattle (EMP Museum), Yonkers, NY (Hudson River Museum) and Flint, MI (Flint Institute of Arts). For the latest confirmed dates and venues, please visit the The Art of Video Games exhibition page at http: //

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Author information

Chris Melissinos, former Chief Gaming Officer and Chief Evangelist for Sun Microsystems and founder of Past Pixels (, is the curator for The Art of Video Games exhibition, which runs from March 16 to September 30, 2012, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Melissinos has been an active member of the video game development community for more than a decade and is best known for his role in web-based video game technology development, video game preservation, virtual world application, and lectures on the future of games and computer technology in society and education. An avid collector, he maintains a large personal collection of video game consoles, computers, and artifacts that span the 40 year history of the video game industry. He is a frequent speaker at game and technology conferences such as the Game Developers Conference, E3, Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Penny Arcade Expo, and JavaOne, and lectures at universities and computer industry events across the globe. Patrick O'Rourke and Chris Melissinos were connected by a passion for all things video games while co-workers at Sun Microsystems in the late 1990s. The friendship grew as careers diverged bringing O'Rourke to Los Angeles to produce photo shoots for Smashbox Studios. Now a freelance graphic designer, photographer, and video editor, O'Rourke continues his gaming ways and likes to deliver angry lectures on game strategy to pets and friends, both real and imagined, while maintaining his status as a frequent industry show attendee. Mike Mika is Chief Creative Officer for Other Ocean Interactive. He has been developing games for nearly twenty years, running the gamut from engineer and designer to animator and writer. Most of his career was spent at Foundation 9 where he was Studio Head for Backbone Entertainment - running day-to-day operations as well as spearheading creative and business development. Mika helped launch mobile game developer ngmoco: ) with some of the industry's top talent, and is a prominent figure in the preservation of videogame history. He's professionally shipped games for every platform since the Game Boy, and still enjoys writing games in his spare time. In total, he's been involved in more than one hundred games during his prolific career.

Review quote

If Ready Player One was a fictional love song to video games, The Art of Video Games is the visual poem to gaming--simply a beautiful book filled with gaming nostalgia, inspired innovation and flat-out fun...Every gamer needs to have The Art of Video Games just like every English major needs to have the collected works of Shakespeare. - J. Jay Franco, Bookrastination, 3/9/12 This book belongs on the shelf of every highbrow gaming geek, but it's also an important read for anyone interested in media studies or human expression. I want to hand this book to every naysayer who sees games as nothing more than cheap, violent, meaningless entertainment. With its engaging pictures, rich interviews, and neatly bundled history lessons, The Art of Video Games makes a solid case not just for the validity of games as an art form, but for its rightful place as one of the defining storytelling mediums of our time. - Becky Chambers,, 3/16/12 I heartily recommend The Art of Video Games, not only to every gamer, but also to anyone interested in technology, and especially to those who feel games are harmful and's a fascinating journey through time, showing how this incredible industry has become one of the most lucrative and fastest growing in the world. When next your parents ask why you play video games, just give them a copy of this book and I'm sure they'll apologize for ever questioning your love for this truly special and important medium. - Benjy Ikimi,, 3/16/12. The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect is a worthy companion piece to the Smithsonian American Art Museum's exhibit. Melissinos and O'Rourke do an excellent job of laying a foundation for any reader to educate themselves on video games and their place as a modern artform. Video game enthusiasts have a lot to enjoy here, too. Besides the first-rate production values, it is a lovingly crafted narrative of the industry's evolution from its most r

Table of contents

FOREWORD PREFACE INTRODUCTION GENRES   START! ATARI VCS Combat Space Invaders Pitfall! Pac-Man COLECO VISION Donkey Kong Zaxxon Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator Pitfall II: Lost Caverns INTELLIVISION Star Strike Advanced Dungeons & Dragons TRON: Maze-a-Tron Utopia   8-BIT COMMODORE 64 Jumpman Attack of the Mutant Camels Sid Meier’s Pirates The Bard’s Tale III: Thief of Fate NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM The Legend of Zelda 1943: The Battle of Midway Desert Commander Super Mario Brothers 3 SEGA MASTER SYSTEM Marble Madness Phantasy Star After Burner Spy vs. Spy   BIT WARS! SEGA GENESIS Dune II Phantasy Star IV Gunstar Heroes Earthworm Jim SUPER NES Super Mario World The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Star Fox SimCity   TRANSITION DOS/WINDOWS DOOM II Fallout StarCraft Diablo II NINTENDO 64 Super Mario 64 GoldenEye 007 The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time Worms Armageddon SEGA DREAMCAST Sonic Adventure Shenmue ChuChu Rocket! Rez SEGA SATURN SimCity 2000 Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei Panzer Dragoon Saga Tomb Raider SONY PLAYSTATION FINAL FANTASY VII Metal Gear Solid EINHÄNDER FINAL FANTASY TACTICS   NEXT GENERATION MICROSOFT XBOX Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Fable Panzer Dragoon Orta Halo 2 MICROSOFT XBOX 360 Mass Effect 2 Lord of the RIngs: The Battle for Middle-Earth II BioShock Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 MODERN WINDOWS Flow Portal Fallout 3 Minecraft NINTENDO GAMECUBE The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Pikmin 2 Star Fox: Assault NINTENDO Wii The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure Super Mario Galaxy 2 Boom Blox SONY PLAYSTATION 2 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Gradius V Shadow of the Colossus Okami SONY PLAYSTATION 3 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Heavy Rain Brütal Legend Flower   INTERVIEWS Nolan Bushnell Steve Cartwright Don Daglow Ron Gilbert Kevin Bachus Tommy Tallarico Warren Spector R. J. Mical Jane Pinckard Jon-Paul Dyson Jen MacLean Chris Charla Jesse Schell Robin Hunicke Tim Schafer ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS CREDITS