The Art of Video Games.
Push > Start is a large art book showcasing a wide time span of video games. There are a total of 215 games showcased, starting way back with OXO (1952) and finishing with Halo 5 (2015). Since it covers over sixty years, there are a few games that aren't covered (*gasp*).
However, the focus isn't on the games themselves, but rather the art and style presented within each one. Each game is showcased by only one or two screenshots. That's it. The only information provided on each game is the platforms it was released for, year, developer, and composer. The only block text present is a short introduction at the beginning of each chapter and some philosophical explication at the end. The chapters are separated as follows:
- Early Games
- Video Game Platforms
- The Art of Video Games
All in all, it's a nice simple snapshot of each era. Clearly, it's difficult to make a statement like, "I'm going to narrow down the entire 8-Bit era to fifty games." But for the most part, the games chosen were pretty safe.
As the book nears the more recent time periods, though, it becomes much more subjective. Games can be a cash cow, and publishers know that. It is not (and has not been) a niche market for a large number of years. It makes it way harder to determine which games have blood, sweat and tears put into them to make them "artistic" and which ones have enough money/manpower/marketing to give it the illusion of being so. Or maybe some of them are anyway. Who can say? Nobody, because it's not a fact, it's an opinion, so quit your whining. Everyone likes their own thing, and there's way too much to be able to see everything.
The philosophy stuff is a little tiring, and thankfully there's not too much. People trying to quantify things that can't (and shouldn't) be quantified into "fact." Here's a taste:
"A game is art because it adds a new element to the "vocabulary" of design. One day, the artists who created this pure, controlled image space may well be mentioned in the same breath as Michelangelo or Leonardo."
The difference is, Miyamoto wasn't some hipster sitting at home trying to avant-garde the crap out of the industry/society. He went to school, got a job, and was tasked by his superiors to make a product that would sell, and so he based it off of existing popular things. Yes, he was innovative. Yes, he was smart. Yes, he had skill. But he wasn't sitting down saying to himself, "God, I'm going to make such an artistic statement out of this thing." But he put in real, full effort, and it turned out great. So we appreciate it. End of story.
The book itself is gorgeous and high quality, not to mention huge! It measures approximately 11" x 11", and weighs over six pounds. The cover is embossed with a checked pattern and includes an obi strip. The organization is great, as the index is up front for easy navigation.
There is also a vinyl record included in the back with generic "big game" music remixes on it (think Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, Street Fighter, Mega Man 2, Tetris, etc.). Not a huge deal, and the remixes are fairly lackluster. I would guess that they did remixes since putting the source music on there would cost way too much money. But with a remix they can argue artistic license or whatever.
It's definitely an "artsy" art book rather than a diagnosis of the art of video games. Worth it? Well, it looks really nice. Not any huge surprises, but aesthetically they nailed it. So if that's what you're going for, spend away.