Review

 

Game Art CoverNon-fiction books about video games haven’t always been the best, with a lot of “home grown” titles being released lately with the expansion of self-published titles. I’m happy to say, from the start, that Game Art, by Matt Sainsbury, does not fall under any of those categories. This book, like the subject matter it focuses on, is a pure piece of art.

While you might be inclined to think that the 272 pages of Game Art are just full of game art that you have seen from a bunch of different video games, what you’ll find here are some very in-depth interviews and writing about many games that you perhaps haven’t even heard of. The art is certainly not an afterthought. Each page is laden with many beautiful pieces, often concept art and not actual computer generated pieces which is what I was actually expecting. In fact, the whole package was a bit of a surprise.

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There are games here from major studios, independents and everyone in between. This was a surprise, as the diversity of what is inside Game Art will likely surprise you. It’s also probably what I would consider the weakest part of the book. While there were titles I was quite familiar with like the Canadian-developed “Contrast” (which also graces the cover) there were a lot of smaller games I had never even heard of. While this appealed to the video game historian side of my personality (and my quest for game knowledge) it diminished the overall experience slightly as I found my interest was higher in the titles that I did recognize.

As with all books of this type, your mileage will vary but the quality of the art and how it is presented as well as the depth of the interviews definitely did not disappoint. The age of the titles range from slightly older titles like Alice: Madness Returns (and the original American McGee’s Alice) to newer titles like Never Alone and Contrast.  Game Art covers over, approximately, 40 different titles.

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If you love video games and the creativity that goes into the art behind them, this is the best book of its type that I have seen yet. The insight into what goes into these titles is ever present, but of course, the art is the real meat of the story here and it’s presented very well. The quality of the paper and binding are also excellent and, although pretty, I found myself wanting to be extra careful with the book’s jacket. It just goes to prove I value it, and I think you will too.

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About the Author

Syd Bolton
Syd Bolton surrounds himself in thousands of classic video games as Canada’s top video game collector at the Personal Computer Museum in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He plays all of the latest games on his 80" Sharp TV and provides the "Lost Treasures" segment during The OMG! Hour. Follow Syd on Twitter @sydbolton.