Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Notable E-Book: Encyclopedia of Video Games

Now, here's a reference set that might be fun to browse through!  (Of course, we also purchased it because it relates to curriculum here at Suffolk.)  It's the eBook version of a two-volume reference book called Encyclopedia of Video Games: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming.  Published by Greenwood, we got it on the popular and easy-to-use Gale Virtual Reference Library platform.

Booklist says of this resource: "Quite a range of topics is presented in this timely set, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the first real video game (Spacewar!, 1962). The 300-plus signed entries are arranged alphabetically in two volumes, from Abstraction-Ludology and machinima (digital art) to Zeebo (a 3G-enabled game console).The style is very readable throughout. Unfamiliar terms are defined (Advergame, Deludic play, Speedruns) as well as popular ones (Joysticks, Resolution, Scrolling), making this accessible even to someone who knows little about the topic. Entries include biographies, types of games (including those classified as racing, shooting, strategy, survival horror); companies (Atari, SEGA, Sony); groups (Entertainment Software Association, World Cyber Games); platforms (Nintendo Wii); terms; and selected games. Most entries run about two pages, with four pages for MMORPGs and six for Simulation games."

The journal Reference Reviews indicates that "The encyclopedia defines “video games” in its broadest sense to include arcade games, console games, computer games, handheld games, and mobile games. In addition to the history of video games, it details such diverse applications of video games as entertainment, education and training, psychological experiments, and therapy. It also discusses the study of video games from many perspectives including computer science, philosophy, art history, and political science; and describes the use of video games worldwide. Controversial topics, such as gaming addiction, violence and censorship, copyright and piracy, and the use of video games in military training are also addressed."

School Library Journal adds: "Along with examinations of (selected) products from Pong to Sony PS3 and densely technical disquisitions on the "JAMMA Standard," "Z-Axis Depth," and other expert-level knowledge, articles covering such topics as "Girls' Games," "Education (Religious)," "Ludology," and "Cheating" explore social and psychological aspects of the pastime. Furthermore, articles on gaming in a number of countries and regions of the world provide international scope."

Choice concluded that "This two-volume encyclopedia features a great deal of practical, theoretical, and historical information about the development of video games."  But the reviewer also thought that the organization showed a "lack of clarity" and therefore "the work is possibly most useful as an e-book."  Good thing that e-book is exactly the format we chose for this encyclopedia!

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