Video games can't catch a break, often lambasted for being a wasteful time-suck compared to other entertainment options. This is a medium wholly unlike any other than has come before it where you are the protagonist and explore a world made just for you. Research has shown that video games can help with cognitive ability, spatial orientation, and problem-solving skills.
This is my list of books where games are prominently featured in the plot, along with some titles that brilliantly break down the history and development of this new art form. Here are a few choice selections from the list:
In Real Life, by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang, is a beautiful graphic novel that explores several fascinating threads about gaming. Anda is a girl who gains confidence by connecting to other people through Coarsegold, a massively multiplayer online game. Coarsegold gives her a sense of excitement and purpose that her everyday world simply can't compare to. Anda soon discovers a darker side to her gaming paradise. While wealthy teens from industrialized countries play for hours, other poorer youth are striving to make money by collecting and selling valuable items to the rich. Soon Anda is ordered to raid a group of gold farmers illegally hiding in the game. She must choose between succeeding at the game and helping those in need.
Super Mario Brothers, by Andrew Schartmann, is actually one installment from my favorite book series called 33 1/3. Each title focuses on a significant music album's creation and influence. Schartmann's book is the first 33 1/3 to focus on music from a video game, showing how composer Koji Kondo worked within the technical limitations of the NES gaming system to still create an immersive and catchy soundtrack.
Tetris, by Box Brown, is a terrific graphic novel that delves into the puzzle game's invention in 1984 by Russian computer scientist Alexey Pajitnov. At first, his program is simply shared around the office as a pleasant novelty. The sheer popularity of the game soon has Pajitnov trying to figure out how he can license and sell it from behind the Iron Curtain. This is a fascinating visual history that shows how Tetris became the world's most popular video game.