This is a look at the revolution that changed the way we play video games. From the prototypical Space Wars, Hunt the Wumpus,
to modern shoot-em- ups, brain-busters and simulations. J. C. Herz examines what has kept us glued to screens and joysticks. It also explores how video games shaped the way those raised on them (like Herz herself) interact with their world. Joystick Nation
gives an overview of video game history, interviews with the brains behind the most influential games, explorations of what makes various types of games work for various people, and even a peek into a major game development company during the critical countdown to a major release. Herz is a witty writer whose personal approach to the topic can resemble a riff by a stand-up comic. You'll find yourself nodding along with her reactions and smiling--maybe even laughing out loud.
Herz, whose Surfing on the Internet
(1995) was described by a Booklist
reviewer as "an endearingly brazen travelogue," urges that video games matter because "two generations of kids have grown up on five generations of videogames . . . this is 50 million adults whose memory and imagination have been colored by Atari, Nintendo, and Sega," just as earlier generations learned about life through pop music, movies, and TV. For both game aficionados and parents who still don't get it, Joystick Nation
is full of fascinating information, including savvy analysis of the fluctuating fortunes of video game producers; enlightening background on the prehistoric ('60s mainframe) forebears of several species of video games that scored big with kids in the '70s, '80s, and '90s; and thoughtful discussion of controversies surrounding video games. Herz is young ("born the same year as the first coin-operated videogame"), smart, and female in a field dominated by men; her study of this huge, often ignored entertainment medium will enhance her technoscribe reputation. Mary Carroll