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The golden age of adventure
As a child, I grew up with a console and a computer in my hands. Looking back, I don’t think my parents knew very well what they had given me, but that’s clearly where my love for video games and pop culture in the (very) broadest sense of the word comes from. And to say that point & click games played a major role is an understatement.
It has been one of the pillars of gaming since the late ’80s and is often synonymous with adventure, which itself rests on the shoulders of the first text-based adventures. Very similar to the paper role-playing game, the point & click has, I think, paved the way for adventure games and RPGs on consoles. Many of today’s greatest developers started their careers in point-and-click game studios of the time. Two of the best known are Sierra and Lucasfilms Games.
The golden age of point & click in the late 80’s and 90’s has gradually declined, before resurfacing thanks to a few independent games since the 2010’s. How can we not see Life is Strange or Telltale Games as the worthy heirs of this very special genre? Bitmap Books could not have chosen a better time to publish their magnificent book: The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games.
At first glance, you can’t help but think one thing: the book is massive, really massive. 500 pages of illustrations and interviews, all designed with exceptional care. The pages are thick, very pleasant to flip through, especially for a book with so many visuals. The pages are slightly glossy, just enough to appreciate the care given to the colors.
This is not just an art book, but a history of the genre filled with interviews with some of the biggest names in point and click. There is a foreword by Gary Whitta that explains how text adventures and point and click titles inspired his own work. Then there’s a genesis that examines how the point and click genre was born over 30 years ago. But all of this is just a wonderful amuse-bouche compared to everything else in the book.
As you flip through the pages, you’ll discover illustrations that trace the entire history of point and click over its 30-year history. While some may consider pixel art a superfluous style in today’s video game landscape, it is undeniable that some of the scenes rendered in this style have really captured the public’s attention, and that many artists have succeeded in creating evocative landscapes within the limits of the technology. It is not for nothing that pixel art is now a visual style in its own right, and it continues to exist brilliantly in 2021.
The illustrations are arranged in chronological order, allowing you to see how artists have adapted to changing technological advances and found their style to create iconic characters. The size of the visuals, often full-page, is perfect for admiring the minute details of all the creations, immersing us directly into these iconic worlds.
Between the pages of illustrations are interviews with Gary Winnick, Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer, and many others who work or have worked in the video game industry, and particularly point & click, during its development. All the interviews are full of incredible and juicy anecdotes (special mention to the one about Spielberg). The whole thing is accompanied by a good dose of technique, allowing us to see all the technological evolution of video games through the prism of the narrative so specific to point & click.
The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games is a wonderful book for those who have had any love or interest in the point-and-click genre, as well as for those interested in the history of a considerable part of the video game industry. This magnificent 500-page book reads with ease and is a real page-turner that you finish without even realizing it. For anyone who has ever solved an obscure puzzle in a point & click adventure game and still wants more, this is the book for you.