Earthbound Cartridge Art

Boss Fight Books publishing house to preserve video-game history

It appears that Brendan Keogh’s Killing is Harmless—a book-length analysis of last year’s first-person-shooter Spec Ops: The Line—was just a sign of the great things to come in video-game writing.

Gabe Durham, a writer/editor from Los Angeles, Wednesday launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund Boss Fight Books, a publishing house for books focused on classic video games.

Super Mario Bros. 2 Book Cover
The cover art for Super Mario Bros. 2

Each book will focus on a single game, though not every book will approach the medium from the same angle.

Durham's Kickstarter page says: “Some books will be about the history of the game’s creation, some will focus on particular elements like level design, story, and music, some will investigate the subculture that has formed around a game, some will bring in outside art, science, and media, some will have a strong autobiographical element. Many books will be a combination of all these things.”

The Authors

To reflect this varied approach, Durham assembled his first round of authors from multiple disciplines: Ken Baumann (writer and actor), Michael Kimball (novelist), Anna Anthropy (independent game designer who created 2012’s acclaimed Dys4ia), Jon Irwin (game critic at Kill Screen), and Darius Kazemi (described as a “game theorist/maker of ‘weird internet stuff’” on the Kickstarter page).

The initial five books, dubbed “Season One,” will feature books on Earthbound, Galaga, ZZT, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Jagged Alliance 2. Books should average around 100-to-120 pages, and will be offered in both physical (paperback) and ebook formats.

Stack of Boss Fight Books
”Season One” of Boss Fight Books

Early backers can chip in $5 and receive one of the five books in ebook form. Physical books (accompanied by a digital version) start at $20 apiece.

Confidence level

There’s a lot of talent and a wide range of viewpoints on the Boss Fight Books team for this first set of books. Provided you’re interested in this type of in-depth games writing, the company sounds like a great step forward for the industry.

As this story went live, Boss Fight Books already had blown past its $5,000 Kickstarter goal. (Today is the first day of the company’s Kickstarter campaign, which runs through July 2nd).

As time goes by and the games industry matures, these types of preservation projects will only become more important. Now, if only someone would write a book about my personal favorite arcade game, Tron. That’s the one I want to read.

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