When you see something that could be better, you try and fix it, which is exactly what author Evan Amos did. A fan of diving into Wikipedia rabbit holes – especially those related to video games – Amos, a hobbyist photographer, noticed that the accompanying pictures used on the online encyclopedia for things like consoles were not the best, so he took it upon himself to fix them. This passion would eventually turn into the photography book The Game Console: A Photographic History from Atari to Xbox, a wonderful visual history of nearly every console, both small and large, going all the way back to the 1970’s.
If you’re looking for a book that is heavy on in-depth write-ups of video game hardware both new and old, The Game Console is perhaps not for you. Though it does feature small pieces of text that provide history and context to the consoles featured in The Game Console as well as their internal specs, it exists mainly to provide a visual history of the eight console generations and it does so wonderfully. None of the images of the machines featured in The Game Console are taken from some online database, but instead have been painstakingly captured by Amos either from their own personal collection of hardware or pieces that have been briefly loaned out to photograph. This isn’t just limited to consoles, but peripherals as well like the NES’ Robotic Operating Buddy, or R.O.B, and the Sega Dreamcast’s VMU among many others. Certain pieces of equipment even feature exploded out versions where you can see what made up these machines from the inside, and even if you’re not the most technically minded, it’s still fascinating to see these the machines that Amos could take apart.
Featured in The Game Console are all of the popular machines you would come to expect, like those from Atari, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sega and Sony, but what ends up stealing the show are the shear amount of consoles that you probably have never heard of. There are very few consoles that aren’t featured in The Game Console – Amos features a list of devices he couldn’t capture for one reason or another – and you’ll assuredly get an education in hardware by the time you turn the last page. The early video game boom in the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s was home to many “me too” console from major companies and those that no longer exist who were trying to capture some of the new market Atari had created. Similarly there are many number of knock off hardware from those trying to enter the handheld market that Nintendo carved out for them with the release of the Game Boy.
From the Atari to the NES, to the Sega Dreamcast and the Switch, The Game Console is a must-buy for even those with a passing interest in video game hardware. It’s not a history text book, and that’s not the point, and even though it is lite on text, you’ll still learn a lot about the history of video game hardware both popular and obscure from some of the best images of said machines that you’ll ever see.
The Game Console: A Photographic History from Atari to Xbox is available now wherever books are sold.