I know nothing about Britain's game development scene in the 1980s. Most Americans don't, but the blindspot is embarrassing considering I pride myself on having a deep knowledge of video game history. It's part of my job, after all.
A couple weeks ago, I received a book that is helping to clear up this embarrassing, humongous blind spot: Britsoft: An Oral History.
Every day since, I've opened to a random page and read until I remembered that I was supposed to be doing some writing of my own. The heavy tome of interviews with game developers, publishers, retailers, and journalists isn't one grand revelation after another, but a sequence of small moments that transform a group of young people in their bedrooms into visionaries, millionaires, and renegade artists.
The book is exhaustive, much like the creative process. Editor Alex Wiltshire does a commendable job of organizing over 400 pages of transcripts and art in a way that isn't overwhelming; its a joy to pick at from any angle rather than pushing through from beginning to end.
The book is a companion of From Bedroom to Billions, a lengthy documentary about the same dev scene. I recommend you watch the film first to learn some faces and voices, and then dig into the book. Even with the film, the abundance of game makers and companies in the book can be a bit daunting, sometimes adding characters at the pace of a Russian novel. I encourage any reader to use a trusty pen and highlighter, charting your own path through its pages.
Even with the abundance of personalities, I feel comfortable recommending this to creative folks, not just a video game fan. In a world where works of art are delivered to our doorstep or hard drive fully formed, it's helpful to have a reminder of what it takes to create something: blood, sweat, tears, tears, tears, and more tears.
The book is available now from Read-Only Memory for £30.