May 3, 2012

Rise of the Videogame Zinesters

I hate motivational and/or inspirational books. They are always written by some sort of half-illiterate manager person, are morally dubious and tend to forget (as George Carlin once pointed out) just how motivated Hitler was. Happily, and despite some pretty silly things I've read online, Anna Anthropy's Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is not a motivational book. It's a bleeding manifesto; some sort of a DADA/Bauhaus attempt to strengthen the popular assault on corporate gaming, provide it with the necessary tools for the job and inspire it.

Now and to keep things simple, here's what I have to say: if you ever thought of creating a game, if you ever created one, but even if you have never played a game before yet feel you have things to share with the rest of us, this is a book you simply have to grab.

Rise of the Videogame Zinesters starts off by explaining just what a game is and what it can achieve in order to swiftly focus on games created by individuals; auteur games. Admittedly, this might sound pretentious or even of elitist origins, but, trust me, it's not. Far from it really. What Anna Anthropy wants is for people to express themselves via the creation of games; easily and without the need of assembling teams or raising money. She doesn't attack the other ways of creating them mind (well, she does have a few things to say about the shitty corporate offerings of today). She merely points out that you could and should do it.

Yes, that would indeed be YOU. Probably even me too.

A game after all can be about anything; just like a short story, a poem or a fiery article. It can be personal, political, funny, fun, thought-provoking, wildly innovative, aesthetically important or something its creator simply had to share. What Anna urges us to do with this book is to actually let our creative selves free to, well, create. She even provides with some ideas on the processes, sites and tools that should help us.

What's more, she takes it upon herself to convince us that a game can also be created by anyone: freaks, normals, amateurs, artists, dreamers, dropouts, queers, housewives and probably even those dreaded geeks. Just not fascists; their games are bound to be as grotesque as the insides of their heads, but I digress.

What I wanted to say was that this book is brilliant and very well written indeed. It's most inspiring, deeply personal and filled with helpful tips and ideas and should even come in handy for people professionally creating games. It even reveals some shocking yet not entirely unexpected truths regarding the way game design universities overwork their students in order to prepare them for the notorious crunch big developers will subject them too.

Read it.

Related @ Gnome's Lair:


  1. "...some sort of half-illiterate manager person." There are entirely too many of these writing books and just generally existing in my opinion. Also, after reading your endorsement, I cannot not read this book. Just ordered my copy.

    1. So glad we stand together on this one dear Alex. As Bill Hicks put it:

      Oh, and I'm sure you'l end up writing about the book yourself...

  2. An excellent review Mr.Gnome, :) another post which has sent me on a train of thought I would never have embarked on, I thank you.

    If I am to buy a book without pictures in the forseeable future, then this would be it.

    Meanwhile...I've got you some apple strudel!!

    1. Why, thank you Ser Elderly.

      (finally acknowledges the existence of strudel)

      Uhm, mmm, hr, mmmh, there are, munch, pictures it you, nom nom, know...

    2. :0 well thats' just exceptional then...,

      though I notice elderly people are not included in her list..... hmmmmm

      I should send her some strudel...


      ....If you hadn't ate it all....

    3. Yes, burp, sadly the elderly have not been mentioned explicitly, but, burp again, strudel can change everything. I'll reconstruct it!

  3. :( your not going to regurg.... no I cant' watch...

    1. Very well; (glup) I'll just order some biccies then. With a lovely ribbon.

    2. fine for you... but I still have to go home and bake Ms. Anthropy a brand new strudel!!

      (Borrows Gnomes flour...exits stage right)

    3. (re-enters....)

      ..Ya could have told me your redesigned the layout!!

      (....exists stage left)

    4. (LOLs)

      I'll mail you a new recipe dear!