Video games today are big business and may even be ‘unrecognisable’ to us old-timers who remember the blocky, text-inspired graphics of the earlier days of computing. Yet it is undeniable that today’s modern-day works of ‘gaming art’ owe their heritage to the pioneering work of hackers who cut their programming teeth on early computers such as the Apple II.

This book looks at those who created some of the Apple II’s most iconic and loved games, telling insider stories about what they did, how they did it and other interesting knowledge. It is a very engaging book, yet you don’t need to have had an Apple II to love it. Of course, if you’ve played these classic games it may be literary nirvana! The legacy of these game hackers continues to be seen today – in fact over the intervening years many of these programmers have continued to develop on other platforms too. The legacy lives on in many ways.

It is a well-researched work of love. The author’s enthusiasm shines through. The author made a wise decision in not trying to cover the entire world of Apple II gaming, instead focussing on what he considers to be games that explicitly defined the genre and time, where influence would be long-living. Of course, limitations will exist, notwithstanding the availability of willing interview subject, but still this is not a game-changer, err, so to say. Some purists may be offended that their favourite classic is missing, but you can’t please all the people all the time and this is still a good testament for a time that many would have missed.

Personally, I found the design was a bit annoying, as I read it on a tablet and it just did not feel to be ‘built for reading’ but opinions will vary and, in any case, it was worth a minor inconvenience for the book’s content. The author must be credited for producing such an engaging work and managing to leave ‘fan enthusiasm’ away from the text, so it resulted in a credible, worthy text that may appeal to a broad readership.

If you are interested in old-time computing or gaming in general, this may be worth considering, but if the price is a little too rich for you, check it out at a bookstore and see if you form a connection to it first.

Break Out Book Cover Break Out
David L. Craddock
Schiffer Publishing