Idesine deep dives into the history of the much beloved Acorn era…
It’s only over the last decade that the preservation around video games has started to truly garner attention. Previously, companies would outright delete source code, throw early alphas onto a fire and in some cases deny any involvement with any unreleased games (Curse you NDAs!). As video games become more and more popular, so too does the effort to document them so that enthusiasts can reflect in the future and have a greater scope of gaming history, where they come from and why certain aspects of games are the way they are. Acorn: a world in pixels is a book that aims to do just that. Video game consoles in the present consist of big worldwide releases. The Sony PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch come to mind, however there was a time before these console generations we all know and this is what this very book by idesine celebrates.
Acorn: a world in pixels focuses on the history of the BBC Micro educational/home computer and the Electron games era. This was before my time on Earth, but thankfully Acorn: a world in pixels helps onboard the reader whatever their age or experience with video games may be. There have been many books on the topic of video games wherein its interesting subject matter doesn’t necessarily manage to engage the reader. Acorn: a world in pixels is able to walk this tightrope pretty well and can be appreciated from top to bottom regardless of if you know what the name Acorn represents.
Featuring over 150 games from that classic era, the book is well paced to ensure the reader stays interested throughout. Each page is beautifully decorated with the art from the games, whether it is a piece of pixel art on one page or expanded to a multiple page spread, there is always something of interest to look at and never any wasted space.
The book is a love letter to the era in which video game creation was the wild west and copyright was something that was pushed aside in the name of learning. We do learn about the publishers but the bulk of the book focuses on the games. Here you’ll learn about original games like Chuckie Egg, Dr. Who and Castle Quest but also focus upon more legally questionable titles like Q*Bert, Tetris and Star Wars. The entries within can be anywhere from a paragraph to multiple pages long, quoting original creators, giving overviews or simply a massive spread of artwork. Scattered throughout are exclusive interviews with the developers from the games giving anecdotes from their time on various projects which, from a video game historians perspective, is truly interesting.
Due to its limited release in only the United Kingdom, the BBC Micro and its history are not as readily available when compared to something like a Nintendo Entertainment System released around the same time. Acorn: a world in pixels tells of the legacy of game development in the United Kingdom very well – whether you consider yourself a video game expert or are just getting into the history, there is something in this book for everyone.