March 10, 2009

Racing the Beam Review and Interview

by Nick Montfort · , 7:31 am

I’m glad to see these recent items about the book I wrote with Ian Bogost: Michael Agger reviewed Racing the Beam in Slate, providing a very nice description of our investigation of the VCS and the concept of platform studies. And, in The Boston Globe this Sunday, there’s an interview of yours truly by Geoff Edgers. In the interview, we discuss the lasting importance of the Atari VCS and some interesting aspects of the platform.

Update: Immediately after I posted this, I noticed Troy S. Goodfellow’s review that is just out in Crispy Gamer, “Print Screen: ‘Racing the Beam’ and ‘Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li’ – One of these is good.” He warns, appropriately,

If you buy this book expecting the gaming nostalgia trip of last year’s LucasArts history, “Rogue Leaders,” you will be very disappointed. This is a very technical book that demands close attention from the reader. … “Racing the Beam” is certainly not impenetrable to the uninitiated, but it is a serious book with a serious goal.

And, noting that “very little game criticism indicates how hardware design influences the software,” Goodfellow finds the book “refreshing,” although not above critique: he wishes there was more comparative discussion of hardware and, presumably, more business history. Still, I don’t think the latest Street Fighter movie was the one of these two that he considered good.

4 Responses to “Racing the Beam Review and Interview”


  1. Mark J. Nelson Says:

    For those keeping track of the Racing the Beam Global Media Blitz, there’s a more bloggy take at Wired’s game blog.

  2. Nick Montfort Says:

    Today there’s a nice article about the book in The Toronto Star.

  3. will Says:

    I saw the Toronto Star article and been drawn to your book. (Canada-believe I will need to buy a copy) it seems that some of the reviewers are missing some of the point. I started doing art on the Artari way back and I know that the process of thought involved in the original “machine” used to assume that the user could see there was a man behind the workings. Now with Adobe in the lead there is little time for the artist to develop his own techniques….so in a way I feel very lucky – but in another reespect—is there ever a way that the old way of programing could come back in the way of children’s games?? controlling video screens? How incredible were those old machines that inspired me!!! Certainly they must be simpler than DVD machines for displaying art animation?

  4. Nick Montfort Says:

    Henry Jenkins interviewed Ian and me recently about Racing the Beam and platform studies; the first installment of this in-depth interview is now up on Henry’s blog.

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