March 12, 2012 | Andy Boxall
Mobile gaming is still a relatively new industry, and has yet to reach the same level of mainstream acceptance as console or arcade gaming, therefore finding good books on the subject isn’t all that easy. Sure, there’s plenty of information available online, but it’s mostly in the form or reviews or general coverage; how about if you want to know more about the story behind a particular game?
If you can’t find any relevant interviews, you’ll most probably be out of luck, however a new book release from CNC Press could contain all the information you could want. It’s called Buttonless and contains the story of more than 60 iPhone and iPad games, along with factual details such as download stats and budgets.
So what games are featured? It’s an eclectic list, including Angry Birds, Canabalt, Infinity Blade, Space Miner, Hard Lines, Fruit Ninja, Superbrothers, Tiny Tower, Osmos, Doodle Jump, Cut the Rope and Words with Friends to name just a few. The details come from interviews conducted by Ryan Rigney, a games journalist who has written for the likes of Gamasutra and GamePro.
It’s well-written, if a little dry in places, and the handy introductory summaries of each game serve as neat mini-reviews, just in case you’re not familiar with the title. Even if you’ve only got a passing interest in modern gaming history, each one of the featured games should be considered an essential purchase, so at the very least you’ll discover a few gems whilst reading it.
If, like me, you work in the industry, Buttonless is a fascinating read. It’s packed full of handy facts and rich background detail on some of the key iOS games released. While writing a mobile game is never going to be quite the mission making a film can be, Buttonless takes a similar approach to a movie making-of book, just considerably more condensed.
If on the other hand you’re a keen iOS gamer, you should also find enough to keep you reading; however I suspect it’ll be something you dip in and out of — coffee table book style — rather than read in one go.
Where Buttonless really surprises though, is in its value to budding developers. Whether you’ve already written a game or are still dreaming of doing so, the book collects more than 60 detailed success stories in one place — and who better to be inspired by than those who’ve already succeeded?
My only slight disappointment comes from it not being an interactive iPad publication. As I was not familiar with all the featured games, I often reached for my iPad to check YouTube for a video so I could see it in action. It struck me that it would have worked better — and potentially reached the perfect audience — if the book itself was on the tablet with videos alongside the text. Oh well, maybe in the future!
Priced at £17.99/$29.95, Buttonless isn’t cheap, but at 240 pages it’s quite good value, and arguably contains information you can’t find elsewhere. We’re still in the early days of serious mobile game development, and Buttonless provides a fascinating look at the pioneers of this exciting industry, and I enjoyed reading it immensely. You can order it directly for CRC Press here.