Game Console 2.0 is an extraordinary journey through the history of video game hardware.
You may not know the name of Evan Amos, but you certainly know his work. Amos is the photographer behind many of the wonderful high resolution game console images on Wikipedia. His work is seen by millions of users, both on Wikipedia and the many other websites and publications that use his royalty-free images.
In 2018, some of the best pictures of Amos were collected and published in The game console, a photographic history book from No Starch Press. A second revised and enlarged edition – The game console 2.0 – was released last year, adding a slew of new consoles and images.
The beautifully produced hardcover book features over 120 video game systems spanning nine generations, all illustrated in exquisite detail with accompanying text. There’s a chapter for every console generation, starting with the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972 and ending with the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 from 2021.
The text of each entry includes basic information about each system – its release year, price, processor, sales figures, etc. – and a brief description of its history. It’s well-written and informative but doesn’t deliver any information that will surprise the most committed hardware enthusiasts.
It’s the photography that shines here. Each entry includes at least one image, and often more than details about a console’s regional variants and special editions. The most fascinating entries are where Amos has disassembled a system to reveal the circuits, transistors, and chips inside.
Highlights include the remarkably empty innards of a Magnavox Odyssey 2 and the mess of spaghetti found inside a Casio PV-1000, a rare foray into the games market from the famed calculator company. .
The book is a reminder that for every success, there are many failures. For every Sony PlayStation, there is a 3DO. For every Game Boy, there’s a TapWave Zodiac. And for every Nintendo Wii, there’s a Wii U.
The consistency of the images makes it easy to see the design choices of each exposed system. (Why did anyone think the Atari Jaguar had potential?) But regardless of commercial performance, every console and controller image is a joy to browse.
Evan Amos got into photography wanting to improve the quality of Wikipedia console images. This book is a testament to his obsession, and his work is now of true historical significance to the video game industry.
Like a photographic history of video game hardware, The game console 2.0 is without equal. The book is an easy recommendation for video game fans, fanboys, and product design enthusiasts. However, for something so overtly technical and detailed, it’s also approachable, perfectly crafted even for readers who don’t sleep with an Atari Lynx under their pillow.
The Game Console 2.0 Review
Editor: No starch press
Release date: out now
The game console 2.0 is an illuminating visual history spanning 50 years of video game hardware. The book is the perfect primer for newcomers, but it’s also an essential piece of video game history. An essential purchase.
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