In a scant fifteen years, video and computer games have grown into a $6-billion-a-year global industry, sucking up ever-increasing amounts of leisure time and disposable income. In arcades, living rooms, student dorms, and (admit it) offices from Ohio to Osaka, video games have become a fixture in people’s lives, marking a tectonic shift in the entertainment landscape.
Now, as Hollywood and Silicon Valley rush to sell us online interactive multimedia everything, J. C. Herz brings us the first popular history and critique of the video-game phenomenon. From the Cold War computer programmers who invented the first games (when they should have been working) to the studios where the networked 3-D theme parks of the future are created, Herz brings to life the secret history of Space Invaders, Pac Man, Super Mario, Myst, Doom, and other celebrated games. She explains why different kinds of games have taken hold (and what they say about the people who play them) and what we can expect from a generation that has logged millions of hours vanquishing digital demons.
Written with 64-bit energy and filled with Herz’s sharp-edged insights and asides, Joystick Nation is a fascinating pop culture odyssey that’s must-reading for media junkies, pop historians, and anyone who pines for their old Atari.