It's totally done. Like done done. Dubbed Arcade Mania, the book's about Japanese arcades. Here's the info: Organised as a guided tour of a typical Japanese game centre, Arcade Mania is divided into nine chapters, each of which deals with a different kind of game, starting with the UFO catchers and print club machines at the entrance and continuing through rhythm games, fighting games, shooting games, retro games, gambling games, card-based games, and only-in-Japan games.
Arcade Mania isn't a history book, but packs lots of history in it — from Post War era mechanical games to the late 70s Space Invaders craze to the modern day. Tons of players, developers and random schoolgirls were interviewed while writing the book. And tons and tons of hands-on "research" was done at Japanese arcades throughout the country. We were able to get Crecente and arcade guru Kevin Williams to pen bang up forwards, which was very cool.
Why a book about Japanese arcades? Why now? Well, there's never been a book quite like this in English on Japanese arcades. And with Street Fighter IV out in game centres here and The King of Fighters XII coming out, it seemed pertinent! If I was going to ever write a book on Japanese arcades, now was the time.
Along with contributor Jean Snow from Wired's Game|Life and the cleverly named JeanSnow.net, we talked to loads of players and game developers — everyone from SEGA's Yu Suzuki to superplayer Daigo Umehara (yes, that Daigo) to a former-sticker-machine-model-turned-fashion-model. Obviously, that's not including all the arcade managers and employees and game developers and players who so graciously gave up their time to talk with us.
The book's photographer Yuki Nakano did a fantastic job of capturing that humanity on film. We really wanted to put a real face on these individuals, and we were able to spend some time with them, visit arcades and really get a window in on why these players continue to play arcade games and why these developers continue to make them. This book is hopefully a celebration of that.
A lot of blood, sweat and yes, tears went into this book. I wrote it while my wife was in the hospital with horrible morning sickness. There was a series of seemingly endless day trips to Tokyo for interviews, arcade visits and book meetings. Weekends were spent dragging my son to local arcades so I could blow off steam, really. But now the book is done done. And I didn't have a nervous breakdown.
Kinda curious to see how it does. There really aren't that many arcade game books — let alone video game ones. (Apparently, book retailers are slightly confused where to put the title!) The early buzz on it so far has been positive. Chris Baker at Wired magazine digs it does MTV's Stephen Totilo. Warren Ellis calls it "fascinating" and "funny", which we think is much better than him calling it crap. Even though I'm very much a creature of the web, I really do hope we see more game books.
Anyway, Arcade Mania will be out in Japan late next month. (It's in English. Yay English!) Jean and I are planning some sort of Tokyo event, so we should have details on that in the future. And it'll be out in North America later this year, early next. It's up on Amazon for pre-order (right here) if you're into that pre-ordering kinda thing.
Went ahead a made a Facebook group, which has a bunch pics Yuki took. The book's official site should launch sometime this month. That's the front cover and the back cover below. They were designed by Kodansha International's Andrew Lee.