10 of the best books on video games for World Book Day

This week at Jelly offers we celebrated World Book Day with a number of buying guides and fun articles from the world of literature. For the day itself, however, we thought we’d drop by our friends over at VG247 to share some of the best books on the topic of our favorite hobby: video games.

Below, yYou’ll find a mix of compelling biographies of game visionaries, insightful behind-the-scenes glimpses of game development, a few arty coffee table books to keep, and precisely a cookbook. Well, we all love a game snack, don’t we?

Browse the selection below and let us know if any are already claiming a place in your library – or if you plan to add them soon!

1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die

I don’t think any of us here have a little backlog of games to finish. Well, 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die might add some structure to your shame heap.

This almighty guide will take you through the history of our favorite hobby across multiple platforms, from the dawning era of Pong to modern classics like Grand Theft Auto and Final Fantasy.

Granted, you’ve probably played quite a few of them already, but this will give you a satisfying checklist to tick off as you go. Think of it as the most comprehensive list of trophies or achievements outside of an actual game that you’ll need some serious determination to complete.

Retro Gaming: a story of video games in bytes

For something that not only gives you a list of games to check off, but delves into the game’s 40-year history – from its arcade origins to its first steps in the house and the transition to handhelds on the go – you can get Retro Gaming: a story of video games in bytes.

The book covers many of the biggest releases over the years, including many of the big names you know and probably love. A great choice as something to jog your memory or learn about some games you might have missed – or as a gift to that retro gamer in your life.

Ask Iwata: Words of Wisdom from Satoru Iwata

Nintendo’s legendary president and global CEO Satoru Iwata sadly passed away at the age of 55 in 2015. Ask Iwata: Words of Wisdom from Satoru Iwata is a collection that brings together inspiring conversations and insights from the man behind these great innovations at Mario, including the Nintendo DS and Wii.

Without a doubt, her advice has changed the focus and direction of Nintendo over the past few years to bring it to the monumental position it occupies today. Whether it’s in our living rooms playing Breath of the Wild, taking our games on the go with the Switch Lite or even bringing them to mobile with Pokémon Go. Its legacy will live on for a long time to come.

The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia

For many, many years, fans of The Legend of Zelda have struggled to settle permanently on the series’ timeline. In all fairness, that’s probably because Nintendo never thought about planning Link’s various adventures through Hyrule and beyond for the next 35 years.

Finally, however, in this History of Hyrule collectible book, Nintendo has revealed the definitive timeline of Legend of Zelda. Without going into too much detail, the result is about as complicated as expected for an attempt to tie together nearly 20 different games, with suggestions that it spans multiple eras and parallel timelines.

Naturally, these revelations made this magnificent volume a much sought-after item. But that shouldn’t just be seen as a worthwhile buy to answer that question. Hyrule Historia also offers a fascinating look at the entire Legend of Zelda series, supported by an encyclopedia of never-before-seen concept art and information.

It’s a worthy collector’s item that you can lift your head with pride every time you remove it from the library. Even if it’s just for debate when Link to the Past takes place once again in relation to Link’s Awakening.

Bioware: Stories and Secrets from 25 Years of Game Development

Bioware will likely mean something different to everyone depending on when the developer’s video games entered your life.

For some, Bioware is the cRPG supremo thanks to their early years with Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. For others, Bioware will be the undisputed RPG engine of the Xbox 360 and PS3 era thanks to the epic sci-fi trilogy Mass Effect and the fantasy opus Dragon Age. Newcomers, meanwhile, may have in mind the slightly more tarnished image of Mass Effect Andromeda and the canceled Anthem mega-flop.

Whoever you are Bioware: Stories and Secrets from 25 Years of Game Development is a fascinating report on the history of Bioware. It’s chock-full of artwork, photographs, and design documents, including information on canceled projects that we haven’t heard from until now. One for those who want to peek behind the curtain into the mysterious world of game development!

Reality is shattered: why games make us better and how they can change the world

Before it seems like every fitness app is forcing us to compete with friends or getting rewards for doing mundane tasks for that dopamine shot, game designer Jane McGonigal showed us how these game concepts could be applied to our lives in Reality is shattered.

She delivers a fascinating argument about how the power of games can improve our everyday lives. By that we obviously don’t mean sitting in World of Warcraft for hours on end, but taking the skills and experience we might get from such a game and bringing them into other aspects of life. I mean, if you can organize and coordinate the chaos of a 40-person raid in Molten Core, imagine what that means you could accomplish elsewhere!

Destiny: The Official Cookbook

As much as we all love to spend hours spending hours at our favorite games, just as important is having other hobbies on the go – at least for a little variety in our lives. For many, nothing beats going into the kitchen and cooking or cooking up a storm.

Enter Destiny: The Official Cookbook. It takes inspiration from Bungie’s sci-fi shooter opus to create a number of recipes to make at home. There’s a wonderful mixing bowl of food and drink ideas, from Gjallardoodle cookies to Reveller’s Tonic – and even Cayde-6’s favorite spicy ramen.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Global Preview + Poster Collection

Since this tech demo trailer from E3, the world has been waiting for a fitting remake of Square Enix’s PS1 opus, Final Fantasy 7. In all honesty, if you would sit down and think about the challenges of putting one of the most important games of all time by modern standards, it seemed like our wildest dreams would never come true. Then the unthinkable happened at E3 2015.

Over the next five years, there were many times when most viewed the Final Fantasy 7 remake as just another piece of vapourware. But, when it finally arrived in 2020, it was a wonderful surprise. Incredibly, he’s managed to capture much of the spirit of the original, while also making changes elsewhere that – for the most part – gave him the current-gen feeling he needed.

Now, for superfans, the Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Global Preview + Poster Collection are two perfect books to add to your collection. The former offers a deep dive into the game’s world, characters and more. The latter includes 22 high-quality posters featuring stunning key illustrations from the remake for display.

Global overview

Poster collection

Dark Souls: Design Works

If Dark Souls is known for one thing, it’s the game’s tough, bastard boss fights. If it’s known for another, however, it’s the rich lore and world-building that goes into every entry. Rather than suffocate you in it, the series carefully sows the history of its people and places among the items you collect and the environments you (carefully) explore.

That alone does Dark Souls: Design Works such a worthwhile purchase for anyone who enjoys digging into the oppressive and disturbing realms of Miyazaki.

Bitmap books

As I cannot simply choose one of the wonderful collections created by Bitmap books, I’ve chosen to highlight a few so that you can browse them and choose your favorites. The cover designs are all wonderful on their own, but it’s when you open them up to see the delicacies inside that you see the quality offered.

Whether it is to delve into the history of the early years of the game with the Commodore 64 Visual Compendium, taking us through the development of a whole genre in the Point and click adventure game art or bring to light works lost in The games that weren’t – these books need to be exhibited and appreciated.

And it does. Hopefully we’ve highlighted something there that caught your eye.

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