Game Changers is a beautiful new coffee-table book from Phaidon

Game Changers book

Phaidon, known for its stunning books about art and architecture, is publishing a book about the history of video games.

If you’re into books, you’ll know all about Phaidon. The publisher was established in 1923, and it has gained an enviable reputation for producing stunning coffee-table books about art, architecture, design, fashion and photography, among other subjects. Now, we can add video games to that list.

Game Changers: The Video Game Revolution is a new book that picks out 300 of the most notable games, consoles and computers and explains their importance in shaping and driving forward the video-game industry. And because it’s published by Phaidon, it all looks very beautiful indeed.

The press release for Game Changers is at pains to point out that the book is fronted by two essays from New Yorker writer Simon Parkin and Disegno deputy editor India Block, but it’s strangely reticent about highlighting the authors of the 300 entries inside. It shouldn’t be. A quick look at the writing credits, squirrelled away on the back pages, reveals that a huge swathe of the entries have been written by acclaimed Eurogamer wordsmith Christian Donlan, and there are also contributions from the talented freelancer Tom Regan, among others.

The entries are presented in alphabetical order, and they are welcomingly broad and eclectic. As well as expected entries on things like the Atari 2600 and Call of Duty, there are a large number of pages devoted to indie games and cult classics, like Bushido Blade, Disaster Report, Electroplankton, Hades, Heaven’s Vault, Inside, My Child Lebensborn and Return of the Obra Dinn. And the entries stretch right back to the dawn of video games in the 1950s, discussing things like the Nimrod computer designed for the Festival of Britain in 1951, which could play a strategy game called Nim using coloured light bulbs.

However, we need to talk about that cover design. Phaidon books are known for their gorgeous, often minimalistic covers, so I have no idea what has happened here. A few random video-game related objects seem to have been thrown together with a sort of “early-2000s Photoshop glow”, as our editor described it. It took us a while to identify the two “panda-eye” shapes, until we realised they were VR controllers – and then we spotted that the D-pad is shown on the right, rather than the left, as is good and proper. Frankly, it’s a mess.

But as the old saying goes, never judge a book by its cover, and the content inside this one looks rather special indeed. Game Changers: The Video Game Revolution is set to be released on 7th September at £39.95, and you can pre-order it here.

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