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Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form Paperback – Mar 20 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press (March 20 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609803728
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609803728
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.4 x 20.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #174,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"When Anna Anthropy thinks of video games, she sees the potential to transform a genre. Anthropy show[s] us how the medium can be used for a greater good.”
—Huffington Post

Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is about education. It is a how-to, indie history lesson, design theory 101, a manifesto, and, surprisingly, as memoir. It serves as an entry into the importance of games and how to make them. But it also is about why making them for ourselves is important.”
Popular Science

“Anna Anthropy's forthcoming book Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is about the personal potential of games—how simple tools allow all kinds of people to tell their own stories interactively. But it's also a clever, thoughtful examination on game design, and why the medium is important and interesting.”

“Anna Anthropy is an independent videogame designer and critic, and a key personality in the ongoing paradigm shift that is slowly changing the way videogames are understood, by creators and players, and by the wider culture.”
—Patrick Alexander,

“These days, everybody can make and distribute a photograph, or a video, or a book. Rise of the Videogame Zinesters shows you that everyone can make a videogame, too. But why should they? For Anna Anthropy, it's not for fame or for profit, but for the strange, aimless beauty of personal creativity.”
—Ian Bogost, Director, Graduate Program in Digital Media, Georgia Institute of Technology

"Free of the constraints the giant studios labour under, one- and two-person teams are using an artisinal approach to make deeply personal and innovative videogames. Rise is a great guidebook to understanding—and more importantly, participating in—this dynamically evolving culture."
—Jim Munroe, co-founder of the Hand Eye Society and the Difference Engine Initiative

“Once upon a time, the game industry was a fervent of creativity, as innovators explored the potential offered by the new technology of home computing; today, it is a lackluster, thud-and-blunder torrent of commercial dross, selling to a diminishing audience of young males. Here, Anna Anthropy demonstrates how people from every background and walk of life are breaking free of the commercial cowardice of major publishers, and bringing their individual visions of the game to life -- and perhaps more importantly, pointing you to tools and ideas that will, should you so choose, allow you to create your own games. If game design is to be an art, as those of us who love games fervently hope, it must be rescued from its crushing commercial pressures. You can be a part of its future.”
—Greg Costikyan, Senior Game Designer, Disney Playdom

"Anna gives the world of video games a crucial perspective from her seat of authority within outsider culture, and illustrates how essential it is for the space to empower
voices of all kinds if it is to evolve."  
—Leigh Alexander, game critic

"You would expect outspoken game designer and polemicist Anna Anthropy's first book to be controversial. You might not expect it to be so heartfelt—even inspirational. Equal parts autobiography, ethnography, and how-to manual, this book concisely makes the case for the unique power of "zinester" games—independent video games made primarily by one person. For newcomers to video games, it's a great introduction; for established video game designers, it's a wake-up call. If you're teaching a course about video game culture or video game design, this book deserves a spot on your syllabus."
—Adam Parrish, NYU's Interactive Telecommunication Program (Tisch School of the Arts), and author of the ZZT game "Winter"

About the Author

Anna Anthropy is a prolific game developer and critic and is the creator of Calamity Annie, Mighty Jill Off, and Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars among many other games, which are available on her website, She lives in Oakland, California, with her pet girlmonster and two lovely cats.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Anthropy brings an important, indie-friendly, independent-friendly perspective to questions of games, game culture, creating games. First, the idea of games as zines is a brilliant analogy conveying her DIY vision. She not only discusses connections between game content and formal mechanics, she outlines how to build up core actions and events in a game. The kicker is that she does all of this in clear and accessible language. The final chapter provides an annotated list of beginner and intermediate-friendly game-creation tools.
Part manifesto, part game analysis, and part practical logistics and advice, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is an important contribution to the quickly-evolving discussion around the creation of digital games in the current era.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Terrible book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xb5a09b70) out of 5 stars 20 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa860909c) out of 5 stars As the public becomes more aware of "indie games", this book makes the case for "folk games". March 26 2012
By new Object - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I eagerly ordered Anna Anthropy's book, being a fan of her important ongoing work in the "indie game" scene. Anna is a creative force and a passionate advocate for games as folk art and digital vehicles for self-expression. She also makes legitimately fun games! This book offers perhaps some of the earliest thoughts in an increasingly public conversation about games' status as art, and serves as a great introduction to an "alternative" world of game development that the average person may not be aware of. This is a large topic simply because of its many facets, and as a shorter read, the book can only act as a primer to these many facets - such as tools for game development, contemporary folk game auteurs, and their games, etc. 'Zinesters is well-written and I think Anna does this topic justice while making the subject accessible to anyone who may have no more experience with game development than simply consuming its output. I think the book falls short in convincing a skeptic that games as art are on the same "level" as the more classic forms. For me, it's an unimportant matter, but some might be looking to this book to convince them. Finally, Anna appears to be of the mind that game creation is a kind of zero-sum, um, game where having less "white male"-developed games is necessary to have more non-"white male"-developed games. Game development is more democratized/open/folk than ever now, while simultaneously "white male" games are consumed more than ever - I think this merely reflects the dichotomy of "pop/mainstream" art and "folk/alternative" art that seems to be present in every artistic medium.
32 of 47 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8609810) out of 5 stars One sided and reductive Dec 11 2012
By C. M. A. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The most interesting, largely because it's the most problematic chapter in Anna's book is the first one, entitled "the problem with videogames." Anna starts by making a lot of bold claims about how most games are about "men shooting men in the face," and if not, they must be abstract games or games where female characters are in some position of servitude. This is on page 3 for Christ's sake, and is just the start of a whole book full of super reductive claims that there are no worthwhile games coming out of the mainstream anymore. She proposes a model where an industry dominated by white males suppresses innovation and perpetuates what she perceives to be a stagnant medium. This is her foundation for the rest of the book, which is unfortunate, because it's a really crappy attitude to have about games.

Maybe Anna didn't play the same games that I did this generation, or even last generation, or even the one before that. Is Mirror's edge a game about shooting dudes in the face? Catherine? Demon's Souls? Limbo? Trials HD? Flower? Heavy Rain? Mass Effect? Isn't it horribly reductive to say that Bioshock is mostly about shooting dudes in the face, even when it's a first person shooter? Is that what that game is really about? I don't think so. Is Bastion a game that a stagnant industry produces? If so, don't you ever change, game industry.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8609474) out of 5 stars A rallying cry for us all Nov. 16 2012
By LA Gamer Girl - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
anna anthropy's book is part biography, part how-to guide for budding game designers and part manifesto for the disenfranchised. Not only does it provide a pretty good, short-and-sweet overview of the history of games development, it gets the reader thinking about how they engage with games in a totally different way. By the end of this you will definitely want to start making games yourself, and anna has all the resources you need to get started.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa86094b0) out of 5 stars A call to create Jan. 27 2013
By hipscumbag - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While the introduction is a little bit bumpy (Anna and I want very different things out of games, and Anna's introduction makes it seem as though the book is almost meant for an exclusively LGBT audience), I found myself won over by her enthusiasm for independent game development. Anna urges you to make something, make anything, and mentions a variety of tools and tricks for churning something out with a minimum of labor. Game development can be very difficult to get in to, so her insistence on easy, personal, fun projects is refreshing and enabling.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8603d08) out of 5 stars Everyone should make games May 15 2012
By Bo Brinkman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Though less cerebral than some of her contemporaries (Ian Bogost, for example), Anna Anthropy's work is even more important. Her games (particularly "Dys4ia," an autobiographical game about her gender identity) are simple but affecting.

Her message to us is that she isn't special ... that we all can, and should, do as she has done. Make games, lots of them, for and about the people we love, the things we care about.

This is a great first book about game design for high school and college students of all stripes (though perhaps not for the prudish, as Anna is unflinching in her approach to human sexuality and political controversy). It isn't for students that want to design games. It is for everyone, a manifesto that explains why you ought to make games.