If you’re the sort of person who enjoys having a bit of background noise on while you do something mind-numbingly repetitive — whether it’s loading the dishwasher or grinding out a Final Fantasy XIV dungeon for the umpteenth time — then it’s hard to beat an audiobook.
With an audiobook, you can enjoy an exciting story, learn about the history of something or even develop your skills in a particular area, all through the magical and wonderful power of your ears. There are even some fantastic books about video games — five of which we’ll share with you now.
As it would happen, our friends at Audible are running a spring sale right now, where you can get three months’ membership for just 99p if you’re a new customer. With a monthly membership, you get a “credit” each month to spend on an audiobook of your choice — which you can then keep even after your membership has lapsed. Click here for more information or to sign up.
Hey! Listen! A Journey Through the Golden Era of Video Games
This audiobook’s author Steve McNeil is a highly entertaining man who knows a lot about video games and their history. You may know him from Dara O’Briain’s video game-themed TV show Go 8-Bit, where he acted as one of the team captains alongside his friend and partner in crime Sam Pamphilon, and more recently from the live Video Game Game Show events in the London area.
Hey! Listen! covers the history of video games from the earliest days of Pong and the classic arcade machines up to the introduction of Sony’s classic PlayStation. It chronicles the many triumphs and trials of all the people who helped make video gaming what it is today — including the baffling mistakes many of them made along the way, too. Steve knows his stuff and is a great host — and this is a fantastic listen for any gaming fan.
A History of Video Games in 64 Objects
Narrated by Ray Chase (best known to many of us as Noctis from Final Fantasy XV), this audiobook presents an alternative, selective look at gaming history by focusing on 64 tangible objects that helped gaming evolve over time — ranging from a first-print edition of Dungeons and Dragons up to a World of Warcraft server blade.
Each object is explored through an essay that examines topics as varied as how the development of Minecraft acted as a means of striking back at the traditional “studio” structure to how women from the early days of gaming such as Carol “River Raid” Shaw and Roberta “King’s Quest” Williams helped define some of the genres we know and love today.
Dungeon Hacks: How NetHack, Angband and Other Roguelikes Changed the Course of Video Games
The “roguelike” genre is everywhere these days — or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that games with elements drawn from the roguelike genre are everywhere these days. But despite this type of game’s explosion in popularity only really occurring in the last decade or so, the “roguelike” as a concept has been around for a very long time — and this audiobook by David L. Craddock chronicles how we got here.
If you’ve been curious about the earliest roguelikes but perhaps been a bit put off by their deliberately simplistic, abstract presentation, this audiobook acts as a great primer to some of the most famous ones — including their history, their authors’ thinking behind them, and how they influenced games that came much later, both here in the west and from our friends in the east.
Lost in a Good Game: Why We Play Video Games and What They Can Do for Us
This audiobook by Pete Etchells is a fascinating blend of personal memoir and scientific theory, exploring both how the author made use of video games to come to terms with his own personal grief, and more broadly how video games really affect us.
Etchells explores a hefty chunk of gaming history, ranging from Turing’s chess machine all the way up to modern massively multiplayer games and virtual worlds, and the story he has to tell is by turns fascinating, heart-rending and hilarious. Well worth a listen if you enjoy thinking about why we play.
Only You Can Save Mankind
Terry Pratchett’s classic novel from 1992 still holds up very well as an audiobook today, even if some of its allusions to “current” gaming are a little dated now! While Pratchett is best-known for his long-running Discworld series, his Johnny Maxwell novels are beloved among children and young adults — and even the young at heart can still enjoy this today.
In Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny Maxwell is surprised when the alien forces he is supposed to be fighting in his new video game suddenly surrender — and upon accepting their surrender, he is even more perturbed to discover that the aliens have disappeared from everyone else’s copy of the game, too! The tale that follows blends Pratchett’s flair for humour and characterisation with an important message about moral responsibility that never feels heavy-handed or shoehorned in.
If you’re a new Audible member, you can either sign up for a completely free 1-month trial or pay 99p for three months’ membership. Each month you’ll get a token to spend on an audiobook of your choice, and you keep your audiobooks in your account even after your subscription lapses. Click here to find out more and sign up.
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