March 10, 2009

Racing the Beam Review and Interview

by Nick Montfort · , 7:31 am

I’m glad to see these recent items about the book I wrote with Ian Bogost: Michael Agger reviewed Racing the Beam in Slate, providing a very nice description of our investigation of the VCS and the concept of platform studies. And, in The Boston Globe this Sunday, there’s an interview of yours truly by Geoff Edgers. In the interview, we discuss the lasting importance of the Atari VCS and some interesting aspects of the platform.

Update: Immediately after I posted this, I noticed Troy S. Goodfellow’s review that is just out in Crispy Gamer, “Print Screen: ‘Racing the Beam’ and ‘Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li’ – One of these is good.” He warns, appropriately,

If you buy this book expecting the gaming nostalgia trip of last year’s LucasArts history, “Rogue Leaders,” you will be very disappointed. This is a very technical book that demands close attention from the reader. … “Racing the Beam” is certainly not impenetrable to the uninitiated, but it is a serious book with a serious goal.

And, noting that “very little game criticism indicates how hardware design influences the software,” Goodfellow finds the book “refreshing,” although not above critique: he wishes there was more comparative discussion of hardware and, presumably, more business history. Still, I don’t think the latest Street Fighter movie was the one of these two that he considered good.