The Awesome Inner Workings of Video Games | Book Review

31 October 2013 by GrrlScientist, posted in Book review

SUMMARY: this children's book provides only the briefest of overviews about the inner workings of video games and consoles.

How does a video game work? This children's book, The Awesome Inner Workings of Video Games by Arie Kaplan [Lerner Publishing Group, 2013; Amazon UK; Amazon US], explores and explains the inner workings -- hardware and software -- that make up a video game.

In general, the writing is clear, leading the reader through the process for how a video game goes from the written program to the screen. The reader sees what computer code looks like, and gains a general appreciation for how it provides the framework for how a computer game makes decisions. Most gamers will also understand the basic descriptions for the inner workings of the hardware that supports video games.

Each page of this limited book features photographs of the component being described and the book includes a list of six websites where further information can be found, along with a short index.

As an avid video gamer, this topic immediately appealed to me but the book turned out to be a disappointment. True, it's a children's book, but it could have presented more substance and detail. For example, although the book primarily focuses on the history of video games consoles like Playstation, X-Box and Wii, it provides no sense for how these technologies fit in with the larger technological landscape nor for where video game technology is headed. The explanations provide only the briefest of glimpses into the function of video games. Additionally, the photographs that include people are heavily male-dominated, including only one female programmer, one female store clerk -- and no female gamers. Further, this book is overpriced.

Targeted to children between the ages of 10 and 13 years old, this book is a credible introduction to the technologies associated with video games but there is little of substance that would interest anyone with more than the most basic knowledge of video games or programming (even if they happen to be in the target group).

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Disclaimer: This review is based on a PDF e-galley provided by NetGalley and read using bluefire reader. GrrlScientist has no known connection to the book's author. No compensation in any form was received by GrrlScientist for this review. All images appear here by courtesy of the publisher.

NOTE: this piece is slightly edited from the original, which was written by GrrlScientist and published by the Guardian.

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Arie Kaplan is a writer, cartoonist and comedian. He writes both fiction and non-fiction about a variety of topics. He has written comics and graphic novels and written numerous books for young readers on subjects ranging from the life of Vlad the Impaler to teens and relationships.

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Grrlscientist can also be found on on her eponymous Guardian blog, and she sometimes lurks on social media; facebook, G+, LinkedIn, Pinterest. She's quite active on twitter: @GrrlScientist

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