It’s well known that I’m a hardcore gamer, however I’m also a hardcore lover of the written word. Let’s see how I got on when diving into a book that melded together these two worlds….
Generation Xbox: How Video Games Invaded Hollywood by Jamie Russell; Yellow Ant
When first I was first approached about this book, I won’t lie I was sceptical and cynical at first. Having read a lot of books about video games, I find that you end up reading one of two extremes. You either end up reading a book that assumes you don’t know what a “game pad” entails and has a whole chapter doing its best to describe to you what one is. Or you get a book which assumes you have the knowledge of a 20 games industry vet who knows the “simple” working of the Unreal engine.
Jamie Russell, the author of this book however manages to find an amazing balance for the reader. Reading this book as a gamer, made me feel comfortable and also enlightened by the subject matter. Don’t assume from the books title that this will be incorrect and condescending drivel. The content of this book is horribly well researched to a somewhat scary degree.
The premise of the book is a simple one, an investigation and analysis into the meeting between the games industry and the movie industry. This is quite an interesting topic as you are given the details on the many failures and pretty rare successes of when the two meet. You are taken on a journey from the early 80s detailing the whole E.T cartridge debacle, to more recent times with the development hell that was the Halo movie. As I mentioned before all this is written with incredible detail and depth, it scares me just much it must have taken to research, gather and put down all this information into one book.
As somebody with close ties to Sony, it was great to read up on the juggernaut which is the Resident Evil franchise of feature films. The Lara Croft and Mortal Kombat movies failed to entice movie goers after the first film. But with Resident Evil, Sony managed to create a franchise which sold incredibly well both at cinema screens and on DVD, even with critics panning each and every one. You get to read up in detail just how and why these films are successful and why others such as Silent Hill, Max Payne and House of the Dead fell flat on their face both critically and commercially. While not a fan of most video games movies myself, the insight you get into them has slightly made me want to watch a few which I 100% ignored (mostly to see just how bad they are).
My one and only issue with this book is the title. When talking to people about this, the title put a lot of people off. As some gamers find the idea of ”Generation X-box” to be just horrendous and it gave them negative assumptions towards the book. However it’s to the books credit that it doesn’t really attempt to define and categorise people with the term. But its still just a shame that some people will be instantly put off what is a truly amazing read.
Whether your a video gamer, a film buff or just somebody who enjoys reading well researched facts, this is a book which you shouldn’t ignore. It had me hooked from the first to last page and the humour Jamie manages to squeeze in is a nice touch and helps to keep the book entertaining throughout.
The video games industry in the grand scheme of things is still relatively new, however it still has a deep history along with some juicy stories. This book may only highlight a small part of this history, but with how things appear to be going in terms of video games and film, this maybe the perfect guide to finding out why the two pretty much need to join forces for the future of both industries.