Virtual Boy
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

A new book focusing on Nintendo's ill-fated stereoscopic console the Virtual Boy has just been announced and is scheduled to be released next month on May 14th.

Seeing Red: Nintendo's Virtual Boy is a new entry in MIT Press's "Platform Studies" series (a series focusing on the foundations of digital media) and is the work of the academic José P. Zagal and the tech historian Benj Edwards. It plans to reevaluate the Nintendo console, which originally launched in Japan in 1995 (and came out one year later in North America), examining why it failed, where it succeeded, and where it fits into the story of gaming.

According to Edwards, who tweeted about the book's announcement yesterday, it will also feature some spectacular insight into how the device actually functioned, as well as an appendix covering all 22 officially released games with screenshots.

Here's a description of the book, taken from its store page:

"In Seeing Red, Zagal and Edwards examine the device's technical capabilities, its games, and the cultural context in the US in the 1990s when Nintendo developed and released the unusual console.

The Virtual Boy, in their account, built upon and extended an often-forgotten historical tradition of immersive layered dioramas going back 100 years that was largely unexplored in video games at the time. The authors also show how the platform's library of games conveyed a distinct visual aesthetic style that has not been significantly explored since the Virtual Boy's release, having been superseded by polygonal 3D graphics. The platform's meaning, they contend, lies as much in its design and technical capabilities and affordances as it does in an audience's perception of those capabilities.

Offering rare insight into how we think about video game platforms, Seeing Red illustrates where perception and context come, quite literally, into play."

You can pre-order the book now from The paperback is priced at $30. A Kindle version is also available for $21.99.

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