I’m always baffled when academics or authors choose a single video game platform as the voice of a generation. Take Generation Xbox, for example. The Xbox 360 has been extremely successful over the last seven years and will likely go down as the system that everyone remembers from this era even though the Wii was more popular and the PS3 was more powerful. In addition to that, the title doesn’t even have anything to do with the content of the book.
Thankfully, the book’s subtitle, How Video Games Invaded Hollywood, lays it all out for you. And if you’re interested in the continuing convergence of games and movies, then Generation Xbox might just be the book for you… even if you’re a PlayStation gamer.
Author: Jamie Russell
Publisher: Yellow Ant
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Strange titles aside, Generation Xbox is a dense tome packed with stories about the ongoing courtship between the game industry and the movie industry. The two mega-groups weren’t always BFFs, though, and reading about the making of the E.T. tie-in game, the Sega CD (and its forebear, the NEMO), and the Super Mario Bros. movie are great for a nostalgia trip.
But the book also explores more contemporary projects, including the inner workings of the Grand Theft Auto series, the creation of Halo and Microsoft’s failure to turn it into a Summer blockbuster, and Sony’s forays into emotion, particularly Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain. The Halo story was definitely the most interesting part of Generation Xbox as it showed just how wild this new frontier is. No one really knows what they’re doing when it comes to mixing movies and games, least of all the executives writing the million dollar checks.
The author, Jamie Russell, lets his fanboy flag fly when it comes to projects like Heavy Rain, but it’s in the failures where the book really finds its flow. Stores from the Super Mario Bros. movie (such as John Leguizamo’s legendary drinking on the set) and Halo script pitch highlight a side of the process that we rarely get a glimpse into. Russell attacks these stories with gusto and manages to get the most out of his interviewees. The tragic tales are Hollywood-worthy themselves as we find out exactly where they went wrong (usually because of clueless executives) and how this lead to changes in the way the two industries do business.
As I said, Generation Xbox is absolutely packed with stories about the rise of the movie/game convergence. Everything from Dragon’s Lair to the Mortal Kombat movie to Turok to Uncharted is here. It’s dense, but the stories are well researched and well told. “Generation Xbox” may not mean anything, but Generation Xbox certainly gets to the bottom of one of gaming’s long-held obsessions in an amazing way.
Review Disclosure: A review copy of Generation Xbox: How Video Games Invaded Hollywood was provided by Yellow Ant for the purposes of this review.