Last week we delved into the world of crowdfunded video game books. A vast majority of them focus on Nintendo and old computers, but not all of them. Unbound has a few computer focused books, and Indiegogo remains a wasteland. Kickstarter though is home to a few other pieces of gaming literature. But when it comes to books focused on specific gaming consoles other than the NES, SNES, or computers, there seem to be only three. One of them is about another Nintendo console, Nintendo 64 Anthology by Geek-Line. There’s another by Geek-Line, PlayStation Anthology which ends soon, and a third called Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works by Darren Wall.
There was a fourth book, the Neo-Geo Anthology, also by Geek-Line. SNK struck the campaign with a copyright notice, and that was that. They weren’t kidding about it either, saying “All of the characters […] and all of the hardware and software used in the book,” belong to them. “SNK’s legal department considers this a clear case of copyright infringement,” the statement reads.
For whatever reason, authors and publishers aren’t interested in touching any other console. Backers are hungry for something else, as the few campaigns covering other consoles were all funded.
All three of these books cover the history of their subjects differently. Just like the Nintendo and computer novels, they each have a different perspective and a different way of telling history. Let’s take a brief look at these campaigns, and see what makes them different.
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works
While a bulky title, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works is the only book on this list not produced by Geek-Line. Instead, Darren Wall takes the credit, who previously Kickstarted a biography on Sensible Software, and later one on the Bitmap Brothers. The book looks at the life of the Sega Genesis, otherwise known as the Mega Drive, it’s most popular games, and feature interviews from 20 former Sega employees. It’s even licensed by Sega.
“We are working closely with SEGA Corporation on every aspect of the book. They have provided us unprecedented access to their archives, where we have already uncovered an unbelievable number of hidden treasures – including detailed technical drawings of the Mega Drive/Genesis console, a range of alternative controller designs, a collection of stunning character paintings for The Super Shinobi/Revenge of Shinobi and pencil and marker storyboards for Bare Knuckle/Streets of Rage.”
The campaign ran in November 2013, raising £98,725 ($127,661) pounds by the time it ended in December of that year. The book was so successful that Wall launched another Kickstarter campaign in January 2017 just to secure funding for a second printing.
Nintendo 64 Anthology
Nintendo 64 Anthology by Geek-Line is a little more in-depth than Wall’s work. The first of several Kickstarter campaigns by the publisher, 735 backers raised €67,593 ($74,078) in by the time the campaign ended in May 2016.
Wall’s book was more of a general overview of the Sega Genesis with some interviews. Nintendo 64 Anthology is a complete look at the Nintendo 64 from the ground up. It would look at the system itself and the games of course, but also all of the Nintendo 64’s accessories, canceled games, and rare and collector’s editions of games. There would also be interviews with influential developers and Nintendo employees from the time.
“A total of 388 official titles were released on the Nintendo 64, and a specific amount of page space is dedicated to each one based on its quality and reputation. For example, GoldenEye has earned itself a full page, whereas titles of lesser renown will be covered on a half-page. […] This book presents all 388 published games with detailed information including their release date, developer, publisher, genre, rarity index, and a rating out of five.”
PlayStation Anthology‘s Campaign just came to a close hours ago at the time of writing this. It raised nearly $50,000 to cover, what else, the PlayStation consoles. PlayStation Anthology is Geek-Line’s biggest work yet. Whereas Nintendo 64 Anthology only covered the N64, this book starts with the early days of Sony. It starts before the formation of the company, in 1945, to before the launch of the PlayStation 3, in 2005. This means that this book will obviously cover a lot of non-gaming products from Sony, such as VCR’s and the Walkman.
This is also one of the better laid-out Kickstarter pages for one of these books. Each chapter is laid out with mock up images, the time period of that chapter, and what in that period will be covered. There’s also a full list of interviewees, such as Naughty co-founder Jason Rubin and Lorne Lanning from Oddworld Inhabitants. The list is more notable for who it’s missing. There’s no Hideo Kojima, Ted Price, or any Sony executive whatsoever. Sorry, no VP of Big Deal, Deal Making Kevin Butler here.
Where Are the Console Books?
The backer support for these kinds of books is definitely there. So why aren’t more authors and publishers taking advantage of this?
We don’t have the typical of excuse of nostalgia to fall back on this time around. All three books fill the nostalgia market, especially the Genesis. There’s nothing stopping anyone from going even further back and writing about the Atari 2600 or the Sega Game Gear. There’s certainly no shortage of people interested in talking about these old consoles, since that makes up 90% of the gaming community on YouTube . There isn’t a lack of information on many of the most popular consoles either. But the answer might be simpler than that.
The answer lies with the Neo-Geo Anthology. Chances are, getting the permission from these companies to write these books is difficult. Many publishers and authors likely can’t get the rights to make them in the first place. There’s a discussion about fair use here. Some of the books we’ve looked at so far have possibly skirted around that caveat anyway. But a majority of writers probably don’t want to deal with the headache like Geek-Line had to, or Sam Dyer on his first attempt with Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom: A Visual Compendium.
Many of the Nintendo and computer books are published by just two entities, Sam Dyer and Geek-Line. It’s not like there’s a long line of writers chomping at the bit to get in on this market. Chances are both of them will get around to other systems eventually anyway. In fact, Geek-Line is already teasing a Gamecube Anthology. It’s only a matter of time before they cover every console worth covering.
Until then, anyone waiting for a book on the Emerson Arcadia 2001 or the Epoch Super Lady Cassette Vision are going to have to wait. There are at least a few other gaming books that don’t look at any particular console or game. But these will have to wait for their own article.