I remember picking up Joystick Nation at the oddly-named Little Professor book store in Green Bay late in 1997. I was so enthused at the thought that someone had written a book about video games then and now that I snatched it up and gladly paid the steep cover price on the spot.

Now, not quite three years later, I’ve come to realize that I’m probably one of five people who actually really, really dig this book. Listening to fellow game fans and collectors discuss Joystick Nation, I think it’s down to me, J.C. Herz, her editor, and her parents. And sometimes I wonder about this. Has a small handful of negative reviews prevented many people from enjoying what is actually a good book? (Or am I living in my own bubble, isolated from all that is hip? After all, I thought Jar Jar Binks was pretty cool, so what do I know?)

Where I think many classic gaming aficionados go wrong is in expecting a comprehensive history of the video game industry. They’re looking for release dates, tons of photos, behind-the-scenes dirt, and other such information. This is not Joystick Nation. What J.C. Herz’s book is, is a broad sociological overview of how video games have changed the face of entertainment, and how we, the players, have responded in turn. It looks at such issues as video game violence, how games are marketed, and how the internet has come to challenge cartridges and CD-ROMs as the de facto vehicle for game software. There is also a comparison of how game development has changed – from the early days, when a Eugene Jarvis could single-handedly create a classic like Defender, to the present, where a whole company is required to crank out a single game. – Read the rest of the article here from Classic Gamer Magazine (courtesy of Old School Gamer)!

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