5 Great Books for Gamers: The Stories Behind Popular Gaming Franchises

Looking to lose yourself in a book but still need your gaming fix? These offer the best of both worlds.

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People play games for plenty of different reasons.

Maybe you play them so you don’t have to read, but that surely isn’t the case for everyone. For some of us, the story behind the game can be just as important.

Understanding the inspiration for games can help us enjoy them better as well. This list gathers together a few different kind of books, all of which can help to enhance your gaming experiences.

1. The Witcher Series

It would have been hard to guess when The Witcher was released in 2007 that CD Projekt Red’s budding franchise would be so huge a decade later.

RPG fans latched on to this series early, but it wouldn’t be until The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was released in 2015 that the game would see widespread popularity.

The books series, as with the games, follows Geralt of Rivia. You can pick the series up at multiple points, but The Last Wish, a collection of short stories, does a great job of introducing you to the books.

2. Masters of Doom

Whether or not you’ve ever played id Software’s seminal Doom (the 1993 version, not the also excellent 2016 reboot of the same name), Masters of Doom is a must read.

Following John Carmack and John Romero from their early days through the departure of the latter from id, this book chronicles 90s game development in a way no other book can. 

Read it now before the TV series of the same name debuts to have a head start. If nothing else, this will give you bragging rights.

3. Empires of EVE

Most games you need to actually play to enjoy. That isn’t the case with EVE Online. I can speak from experience, as aside from a brief few hours spent with the free trial (before the game went free to play), I’ve barely touched it.

That said, the stories that surround the game have provided me with hours of entertainment.

Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online reads like a history book, and that’s because it is. It just happens to chronicle events that happened in a game. Alliances are formed, relationships falter and fail, and battles are won, but at a cost.

I may never play EVE Online and you may not either, but the stories are still legendary.

4. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels

The other game development stories gathered here focus on older games. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels instead turns its gaze on games that are much more recent.

These range from then-risky new IPs like Destiny to indie games Stardew Valley. Perhaps most interesting of the bunch are the stories around Dragon Age: Inquisition, which see BioWare in a race against the clock and countless bugs.

We know now that the game did make it out the door, but that doesn’t make it any less tense in the book.

5. Console Wars

This book chronicles Sega in what then seemed like an impossible uphill battle to dethrone Nintendo, which had the equivalent of a monopoly on the video games industry.

Some have taken the book to task for its dramatization of the events, but these help make Console Wars a more compelling story.

If you remember the phrase “Genesis does what Nintendon’t,” you owe it to your inner child to read this one.

There’s More Where These Came From

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the best books for gamers that are out there.

Whether you’re looking from behind the scenes stories from the trenches of game development or the inspiration for your favorite settings, you’ll find countless other books. Even with so many, it can be tough to find the right book for you.

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