There have been countless video game books released since the birth of the medium, from jargon-heavy textbooks to interesting histories and 'making ofs', but not all of these are easy to find that much information about. And that's where The Video Game Library comes in.
The Video Game Library is an online database and website that lets users look for information based on everything from keywords to specific titles.
It's the brainchild of Dean Guadagno, who started the project back in March 2022, after noticing there wasn't really a specific resource out there for searching for video game books. There are archive.org and GoodReads, of course, but as Guadagno points out they also encompass everything beyond gaming too, meaning valid search results can often get lost under everything else that's churned up.
The Video Game Library is intended to make searching for books a lot easier, whether you're a historian, academic, player, or simply a person looking for a book for your kid. If you like what you see, there's also a link on where to purchase a copy for yourself.
"This is not something where I grew up saying, ‘I want to be a librarian’," Guadagno tells us. "Instead, this very much spawned out of my love of games. I’ve been playing video games and I’ve amassed a pretty big collection. And somewhere along the way, I started buying books about developers and studios and games I loved, and I found a small love of reading those books. [...] My collection at the time [of starting the project] was maybe 500 to 600 books about video games, which sounds like a lot; I was sure I had them all, right? And yeah, a little bit of research showed me otherwise."
As Guadagno tells Time Extension, to make this one-person project somewhat manageable, he needed to set some ground rules on what books qualify for the website. One of the biggest rules, for instance, at the moment, is that the site doesn't currently include any video game guides. The reason for this is that there are literally hundreds of thousands of guidebooks, both official and unofficial, that would make cataloging even just a fraction of them pretty much impossible for him alone.
So instead, he's been cataloging his own collection and then spinning off into specific rabbit holes designed to help visitors find similar books by the same authors or on the same topic.
He uses David Kushner's Masters of Doom as an example of this. If you visit the page for the book, you'll find a short synopsis and some publication details, but you'll also find a tag that links to the author's other works like Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto and his essay in Opposing Viewpoints: Video Games. If you simply want to read more about Doom, you can also click on that tag to find other books on the game like Dan Pinchbeck's Doom: Scarydarkfast or Steve Benner's 3D Game Alchemy For Doom, Doom II, Heretic, and Hexen.
It's a fantastic resource and one that is pretty fun to just click around on to see what you can find. As Guadagno tells us, he's come across a bunch of niche titles while working on the library, including Michael Stone's Jesus For The Win, the gamer bible; and Nicolas Michaud's Pokémon and Philosophy.
As someone who thought they were an expert on video game books, it's been an education on just how much is still outside of our knowledge. But what's the response been like so far? We asked Guadagno.
"We just passed 10,000 unique users," says Guadagno. "I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but in my head, I’m thinking if that’s 10,000 people who have seen the website and have come back on a recurring basis, that makes me happy. I feel like people are getting good use out of it.
'My end goal, selfishly, is that when people are writing a book or when people find a book, they let The Video Game Library know because I can’t do it without other people. If someone’s in Sweden and they see a Swedish publication about a video game book, I want the first thing to come to their mind to be, ‘We should get this in the video game library.' That would be great because the more complete it is, the more people will use it."
What's your favorite book on video games? Let us know in the comments!