Game On A Video Game History by Dustin Hansen

Don’t let the word “history” stop you from picking up Game On! Video Game History from Pong and Pacman to Mario, Minecraft, and More by Dustin Hansen. This is not a collegiate style book. It’s not a book you’ll find in children’s section either. It’s a collection of industry changing games through out the decades. Hansen’s book had two main points. One, the gaming industry changes quickly. Two, past and present games will impact how we live in the future. How does he prove it? Hansen selected specific games from multiple consoles and devices, but he doesn’t catch ém all…

Judging a Book By It’s Cover

Although the cover resembles a Pokéball, Hansen only dedicated one chapter to Pokemon Yellow. Honestly, it’s my least favorite of the primary color trio. In 2000, I got a GameBoy Color, Pokemon Yellow, and Pokemon Blue for Christmas. My mom wrapped them in such a way that I was genuinely surprised when I unwrapped them. I played both games, but preferred Blue to Yellow. Blue let’s you choose between fire, water, and grass typr Pokemon. Whereas, Pokemon Yellow forces you to start with Pickachu. So, your initial journey mirrors Ash Ketchum from the 90s televised series. My point here is don’t expect a detailed history of a specific game series.

As a reminder, Hansen’s objectives were showcasing how the gaming industry changes quickly and how past games influence new games. Besides, many companies are aware of their fans desire to learn more. Let’s just say, I own The Legend of Zelda : Hyrule Historia. My late grandmother gave it to me for Christmas. I appreciate her for that, because it was an expensive book. To be fair, the books dimensions, paper quality, color, and content justify that. Surprisingly, Game On! is very affordable for a hardcover book.

Hardcover Books Tend to be Expensive

Document and design are elements that impact how much it cost to make a book and it’s bookstore/online price. Game On! has a grayscale color theme. Since the pages don’t have a gloss finish, the final product cost $19 in the United States. I’ve found novels with similar size white pages with black ink cost $25 or more for a hardcover. Imagine how much a paperback version of Game On! would be. In my opinion, the reader gets a pleasent reading experience for an affordable price.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

My game preference is arcade, Nintendo, Sega, and mobile games. I was able to find chapters that suited my interest. Plus each chapter read like an article. Outside of the intro and outro, I was able to enjoy the book out of order. My favorites chapters are listed below:

  • The Legend of Zelda 1986: It’s Dangerous to go Alone Take This, Pg 56
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 1991: So Fast, You’ll Need a Barf Bag, Pg 86
  • Mortal Kombat 1992: Fatality, Violence and the ESRB, Pg 102
  • Dance Dance Revolution 1999: Step in a New Direction, Pg 174
  • Wii Sports 2006: Tighten Your Shoelaces and Your Wrist Strap, Pg 244
  • Farmville 2009: E I E I OOOO, Pg 270
  • Angry Birds 2009: Who You Callin Angry, Pg 278

Those seven chapters are barely a quarter of the content Hansen wrote. Not enough info for you? Hansen shared his sources .

Go Beyond…Plus Ultra! [I Couldn’t Help Myself]

Most of Hansen’s sources were website, which makes it easier for the reader to fact check him. Given his twenty plus years of work experience in the gaming industry, the book was written by a subject matter expert. Still, sparking debate requires both parties to review relevant information to argue their cases.

I appreciate Hansen sharing the sources he used for each chapter. It is a reference style some historians use to prevent endnote and footnote marks from distracting the reader. There are times were it’s difficult to determine what’s common knowledge, author opinion, and paraphrased information. This is coming from a graduate level analysis of the book. It’s best not to get caught up in the weeds. After all, Hansen is an accomplished writer and illustrator as well. So, enjoy it for what it is. I did!


Game On! would make a thoughtful gift for casual and pro gamers. It’s not limited to history buffs.

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