I'm a little surprised I enjoyed this book as much as I did. Other than a brief period in my teens when I was obsessed with Asteroids and Defender, I've never been much into video games; My kids kicked my butt at Halo and various EA Sports games for years until I finally stopped playing; And, although I created a few computer games last year - including the unforgettable Spinach Top series, I've spent only a small percentage of my life creating video games.
But I admire those who can create these games - the people with enough imagination to conceive of a great game idea and enough technical skills to execute that idea.
Honoring the Code: Conversations with Great Game Designers put me in touch with those people. Video game enthusiast Matt Barton sought out the programmers and artists who worked on many of his favourite games and he asked them about their lives and their work. This book is primarily a transcript of those interviews.
George Sanger, who composes and compiles music for video games, including 7th Guest. His main advice: "Be nice to each other".
John Romero, who built the influential first-person-shooter game Doom. Romeros was hailed as a rock star in the industry until his marketing department published a poorly-thought advertisement with the text: "John Romero is about to make you his bitch", which turned many fans against him.
The reclusive Rebecca Heineman, who was born William Heineman, but changed her name when she transgendered to a female as an adult. Heineman earned the nickname "Burger" by a habit of buying a sack of hamburgers, storing them in her desk, and eating them over the course of several days.
My favourite interview is in the last chapter - Paul Reiche and Fred Ford seem to be having the most fun. For example, they started a company named "Toys for Bob" and they chose that name only because they liked the sound of it. Although there is no actual "Bob", everyone in the company had to make up a story about who the "Real Bob" was.
One can read this book to learn and copy the habits of great games designers. Although there is a wide spectrum of personalities among the interviewees, most of them share a passion for video games that drives them to work long hours designing, building, and playing these games. And most of them began this passion early in life - well before high school.
One nice thing about this book is that you can read the chapters in any order - each interview stands on its own.
The author provides an introduction to the book - describing his motivation for conducting and publishing these interviews. I was surprised he did not end it with a conclusion - summarizing all he had learned.
For me, the book was interesting because I enjoyed a peek into the lives of people who have a passion for what they do for a living.