20 Essential Games to Study (Paperback)'20 Essential Games to Study' is the first book written by Joshua Bycer, a game design critic who has spent many years studying the art of game design. Bycer is the owner of “Game Wisdom,” a website, YouTube channel, and podcast dedicated to examining the gaming industry through thoughtful videos, articles, and interviews with hundreds of game developers. Outside of his website, Bycer spends a lot of time putting on presentations at local libraries to help educate parents and children about the world of video games.

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In this first book of his, Bycer takes a look at twenty different video games spread out over the past 35 years that he believes had a formative impact on the gaming industry. While some of the games he discusses were immensely popular (Diablo II, GoldenEye 007, and Metal Gear Solid), others are a bit more niche. So rather than falling into the trap of only focusing on games that are generally accepted as having been hallmarks of the industry (such as Super Mario 64 or the original Legend of Zelda), the book also focuses on games that may have initially fallen a bit under the radar, which to me, sets this work apart from others. Yet, even when it comes to the more popular games he discusses, Bycer’s take on them is quite original and brings up a lot of valid points. 

20 Essential Games to Study (Paperback)
20 Essential Games to Study
Written by Joshua Bycer 
Published by CRC Press
One of the chapters I enjoyed reading principally focused on 1994’s Super Metroid game published by Nintendo. In it, Bycer discussed the term “Metroidvania” -- a term that is thrown around a lot these days -- and why it was Super Metroid, rather than Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, that laid down the foundation for this particular genre. He also talks about items being used as "keys" in video games, where an item you obtain is only used to help you access another area and then isn't really relevant again. Super Metroid and the genre it established defied this concept by allowing gamers to backtrack to previously-explored areas and to use new items, abilities, or skills to find hidden secrets or new areas to explore.

The entire book, including the glossary and index, is only 104 pages, and since each chapter is only four pages long, the content is very easy to digest as a whole or in small bursts if you'd like to use it as a quick reference guide. The narrative style also flows very well and the use of pictures helps hit home a few of the points the author is trying to make. Overall, it’s a solid effort and is something that aspiring designers, fledgling gamers, and those looking for a dose of nostalgia will enjoy reading. The asking price of $49.99 on Amazon (and at other retailers) seems a bit high to me (I’d recommend pricing it at $14.99 to $19.99), but if you can catch it on sale, yeah, I’d recommend checking it out!

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the topic. So please stay tuned for more crafty content coming your way, care of Jessica's Journey, as written by Joypad Jess from NerdyButFlirty.com.

20 ESSENTIAL GAMES TO STUDY 20 ESSENTIAL GAMES TO STUDY Reviewed by David Andrews on May 23, 2019 Rating: 5

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