I got several great books for Christmas this year, one of which was Jeff Spega’s Tron and Robotron: Thirty Years of Electronic Gaming (and Counting). I received an electronic preview copy a few weeks back, but after finding a physical copy of the book under my tree I decided to spend some time this past holiday weekend to read the entire book cover to cover.
Even at 420 pages, Tron and Robotron is a quick read. Throughout the book, Spega relates stories of his childhood and beyond. Those who grew up playing Atari 2600, Nintendo, or Commodore 64 games will certainly relate to the stories within. The stories are presented in chronological order; by the end of the book, Spega has kids of his own, and his hobby of playing games has largely evolved into collecting them.
The second half of the book contains lists. The first appendix contains a list of “every console [the author] has ever heard of,” and it’s a lot. Most of the entries include facts, details about additional information about things such as the console’s controllers or games to keep an eye out for. The second, larger appendix contain’s Spega’s list of recommended games (and there are hundreds of them). Lists are subjective and readers may find a few of their favorite games missing, but by and large I agreed with the author’s choices.
In a way Tron and Robotron feels like two separate books bundled together, and that’s okay. The stories make for good reading, and the lists make for good reference material. If you grew up in the same era that Jeff and I did, you will be able to relate to many of the stories contained within — and if you didn’t (and enjoy video games), you’ll enjoy hearing about what it was like from someone who was there.
Tron and Robotron can be purchased through Jeff Spega’s website. If you order a copy, be sure to e-mail Jeff and let him know you heard about it here on The Retroist!