Here are the 20 best video game books, across several genres. For diehard video game fans, gaming is a way of life that finds its way into every part of their day. You eat, sleep, and breathe video games, so of course why not read them too?
The books listed here are broken down into four major categories: fiction video game books, graphic novels, nonfiction about video games, and video game art books. Even if you think you’ve read all the best video game books out there, your new favorite could be on this list.
Just a casual video game fan? Even if you’ve never played a video game in your life, these books deliver fascinating stories and stunning images that might just convert you into a gamer.
Despite movements towards change in the past few years, a lot of the video game industry is still dominated by cis men. You might notice as you peruse this list of titles that this is reflected in the books written about video games. Many of these books are written by cis men.
Best Fiction Video Game Books
We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth
In A.E. Osworth’s new tech thriller, they address the issues of gender in the video game industry head-on. In We Are Watching ELiza, our title character is living her dream as a video game coder. Then someone in the popular video game company she works for sexually harasses her. So Eliza takes her story to a journalist who then blasts her personal information all over the internet. The harassment from the gaming community comes back at her right away. But it’s not just people on the internet. Eliza is convinced someone is stalking her.
Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace
This new science fiction debut novel is like Ready Player One meets Black Mirror. Set in an all-too-near future where two corporations have created a divide in the remaining 45 states that make up the United States of America. Mallory spends more of her time streaming Stellaxis’s war game SecOps rather than engaging in the chaotic world all around her. But then she gets a side job where she’s attempting to link an actual missing girl to one of the SecOps characters, and suddenly Mal finds herself in the kind of danger she’s only experienced in the game.
Warcross by Marie Lu
The obsession with the game Warcross started ten years before the start of the first novel in Marie Lu’s Warcross series. At the start of Lu’s novel, the game is already a global phenomenon. And of course, with any game this big, there’s always some illegal activity. Teenage hacker Emika Chen is working as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But when she takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships, Emika accidentally glitches into the competition and becomes an overnight sensation.
Opening Moves by Cosimo Yap
This first book in The Gam3 series introduces readers to the Game. At first glance, the Game seems like your average virtual reality game. But the Game is anything but simple. College student Alan can’t wait to play the game. And when he finally gets the opportunity, he dives in recklessly. He soon realizes, however, that the stakes are fare higher than what he bargained for.
Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd
Where are my eSports fans? This is the book for you. By day, Emilia is a field hockey star with a popular boyfriend. But by night, she’s the only female member of a highly competitive eSports team. But in order to thrive in both the virtual world and the real world, Emilia has to keep both of them completely separate. When a major eSports tournament comes to her city, Emilia’s online life bleeds into her real life. She feels like she has to go to the tournament to prove herself as a formidable opponent in the gaming community. Then someone recognizes her…
Slay by Brittney Morris
What is SLAY? It’s a secret multiplayer online role-playing card game that hundreds of thousands of Black gamers play online across the world. The biggest secret about the game, though, is its developer. No one knows the mastermind behind the game is 17-year-old Kiera Johnson. And Kiera wants to keep it that way. But then a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world. Following this tragedy, the game makes the news and becomes quite controversial.
Tournament Trouble by Sylv Chiang and Connie Choi
Tournament Trouble is the first book in Cross Ups, a new middle grade series about (you guessed it) video games. Twelve-year-old Jaden wants nothing more than to be really good at the game Cross Ups, a game he and his friends are obsessed with. If only he didn’t have to hide his passion for gaming from his mom, who’s convinced video games make people violent.
Best Video Game Comics & Graphic Novels
In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
Do you ever read about these video games in fiction and wish all these games were real? That’s how I felt reading about Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where Anda spends most of her time. It’s a place where Anda can be whoever she wants to be, meet people from all over the world, and make new friends. But the world gets more complicated when Anda befriends a poor kid who illegally collects valuable objects in the game and then sells them to rich players with money to burn. Technically, what this kid is doing is wrong, but the reality is a lot less straightforward.
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley
What if your life played out like a video game? That’s the world of the Scott Pilgrim series. Much like a video game, Scott Pilgrim’s life is just chock full of bosses he has to defeat. Only the bosses in his life are his love interest’s ex-boyfriends. Video game fans will love the way this comic book references some more iconic video game moments, and the way the story unfolds like its very own video game on the page.
Level Up by Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham
Dennis Ouyang is struggling in every sense of the word. And the crushing weight of his parents’ expectations for him isn’t helping anything. Then on top of everything, Dennis’s father dies, and he gets kicked out of college. His only escape is playing video games. But he knows his video game obsession is distracting him from reality. That’s when something strange happens. Four angels appear to help him get his life going in the right direction. But even as Dennis makes his way through medical school, he can’t stop thinking about video games.
Best Nonfiction Video Game Books
Ask Iwata: Words of Wisdom from Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s Legendary CEO by Satoru Iwata, Edited by Hobonichi, Translated by Sam Bett
Nintendo fans, this book should be a must-read for you. This book is a motivational collection of words of wisdom from Satoru Iwata, the former Global President and CEO of Nintendo and a gifted programmer who has likely helped to develop some of your all-time favorite games. This advice is great for game fans, business owners, and really anybody looking for motivation.
Press Reset by Jason Schreier
This is the latest video game book from Jason Schreier, author of Blood, Sweat, and Pixels (which you should also check out if you haven’t picked it up yet). In his second behind-the-scenes look at the video game industry, Schreier focuses on how some of the past decade’s most renowned video game studios fell apart, and what happened to them next. Each chapter looks at a different studio from beginning to end, and you won’t find a more riveting or more well-researched account of the complicated realities of the video game industry.
When Walt Williams was writing for a school newspaper, he never could have dreamed that one day he’d be writing for some of the most successful video games in the world. In this book, Williams takes readers through his unlikely rise to the top of the video gaming industry. In doing so, he pulls back the curtain on the world of creating video games.
John Carmack and John Romero are like the John Lennon and Paul McCartney of video games, and Masters of Doom is their story. These two men rose from nothing to create two of the biggest video game franchises in history — Doom and Quake. But eventually the games they made are what tore them apart. This is a story of friendship, betrayal, artistry, and of course, video games. Lots and lots of video games.
Good Luck Have Fun: The Rise of eSports by Roland Li
Fans of eSports, I haven’t forgotten about you. Here’s another video game book you’re going to love. eSports is one of the fasting-growing industries in the world, and in Good Luck Have Fun, Roland Li looks at the players, companies, and games that have made eSports the massively popular gaming competition that it is.
The Games That Weren’t by Frank Gasking
So far, we’ve talked a lot about the video games that have become wildly popular. But what about all of the games that never made it into players’ hands? In The Games That Weren’t, Frank Gasking takes a look at the games that have never seen the light of day. There are many reasons for these games to never make it to gamers, and a lot of those reasons have gripping stories and mysteries attached to them. Gasking is here to tell those stories.
Best Video Game Art Books
The World of the Witcher by CD Projekt Red
This book is the definitive guided tour through the dark fantasy world of The Witcher. This beautifully illustrated volume also includes lots of information about the fantastic locales in the games, the deadly beasts that inhabit this world, and the weapons that are used to fight them. This is a must-have for any gamer who loves The Witcher.
The Art of Super Mario Odyssey by Nintendo
2017’s Super Mario Odyssey is one of Nintendo’s best-loved games. This book — featuring concept art, preliminary sketches, and notes from the development team — takes a look at the art and expertise that went into developing this beloved game. This book gives readers the opportunity to explore the world of Super Mario from every angle, from the artwork to the marketing.
The Art of the Mass Effect Universe by Casey Hudson
If you love Mass Effect, you’re going to love this book, which is the most complete companion book available for this popular video game series. The book features stunning concept art and insightful commentary from BioWare all about the games’ characters, locations, vehicles, weapons, and much more.
The Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia by Nintendo
Everyone loves Zelda right? It’s a classic for a reason. And this book is your exhaustive guide to all things Zelda, from the original The Legend of Zelda all the way to Twilight Princess HD. This book has everything a Zelda fan could ask for: an extensive database of items and enemies, rare development sketches of all of your favorite characters, an expansion of the timeline from The Legend of Zelda, and pretty much everything you’d want to know about the first 30 years of The Legend of Zelda.
Looking for even more books about video games? Here are 10 Great Books for Young Gamers. Or how about these Five Books to Feed Your Video Game Nerdom? And last but not least, here are 9 of the Best YA Books About Teen Gamers!