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A zine about the history of video games
214 backers pledged $3,302 to help bring this project to life.

About

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The Story

Save Point is a zine about video game history, written by a real, live historian. While lots of people (including me!) research the history of video games, a lot of that work ends up in journal articles or books geared toward an academic audience. My goal is to take the research and put in a form that is easier and less cost-prohibitive to access and more fun to read. 

The theme of this first issue is "video game history through objects," covering research practices, some of the challenges of researching video games, and then demonstrating the types of questions and concepts that drive projects. It builds on a talk I gave at MAGfest (which you can watch here).


This set of metal runes came packaged with Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss.
This set of metal runes came packaged with Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss.

Save Point is full of hand-drawn art and is approximately 24 full-color pages long with a saddle-stitched cover. With the funding needed, it will be professionally printed; a PDF version is also available. Topics covered in this first issue include:

  • Why does history of video games matter?
  • How do you do history?
  • Home Pong
  • Death Race
  • Centipede
  • Tetris
  • Feelies
  • Tamagotchi
  • Distribution and merchandising

Save Point is available as an individual print or PDF copy (or both!) or a bundle  or a PDF with reprint permission for classroom use. You can order for yourself, grab a class set, or send as a gift for your favorite student or history enthusiast.

Who am I?

I've written two books about the history of video games, Coin-Operated Americans: Rebooting Boyhood at the Video Game Arcadeand Brenda Laurel: Pioneering Games for Girls, along with a number of articles. (Check out a couple here and here, if you're interested.) I have a PhD in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and I teach game studies, digital humanities, and related topics at Illinois Tech. 

Death Race sparked the first moral panic about video games. Flyers like this one helped promote it to operators.
Death Race sparked the first moral panic about video games. Flyers like this one helped promote it to operators.

Over the past decade, I've given dozens of talks about video game history, received fellowships to support my research, and traveled all over the U.S. tracking down sources and artifacts. I also serve on the board of the Learning Games Initiative Research Archive and on the selection committee for the World Video Game Hall of Fame.

I have run crowdfunded projects before, and I have also dealt with file prep and printing a lot (starting when I was on high school yearbook staff). This project is very much in my wheelhouse, and I'm excited to be able to bring it to life and share it.

Budget

Contributions will be used towards:

  • Printing 
  • Binding
  • Shipping
  • Copy editing
  • Image editing and processing
  • Writing and drawing

This will fund the first issue of Save Point, which will be a full-color, 24-page zine.

Why this is important

Video games are an important part of pop culture, the media industry, and daily life. Their history is relatively short, but many aspects are not well documented. While more historians are working on video games, a lot of this research winds up in academic publications that can be expensive to access or in museum exhibits that have limited geographic reach. 

Plus, some of the games I study are rare or run on older tech that is hard to find in working order, but they're still important to history. Publishing about them is one way to help make sure they aren't forgotten, and I'm passionate about opportunities to make the work I've done available to more people. Save Point will present information and insights from original archival research in a format that is less expensive, more fun, and broadly readable. Also, it has pictures.

Digital pets like this one sparked a major trend in the late 1990s.
Digital pets like this one sparked a major trend in the late 1990s.

Stretch Goals

(DONE!!!!) $2,000 goal: Issue 2

At this level, I'll be able to cover costs for the second issue of Save Point, which will be available for sale at price points similar to the one here in fall/winter 2019.

(DONE!!!!) $2,500 goal: Issue 1 Open-Access

At this level, I don't need to worry about being able to use sales from Issue 1 to fund subsequent issues, so the PDF will be made freely available once all backers have gotten their print and PDF copies.

(DONE!!!!) $3,000 goal: Issue 3

With this level of funding, I can complete Issue 2 and Issue 3 (Spring/Summer 2020), both of which will be available for sale at price points similar to the ones here.

$3,500 goal: Issue 2 Open-Access

This would make the PDF version of Issue 2 freely available once the print version has been distributed.

$4,000 goal: Issue 4

With this amount of funding, I can complete 4 total issues of Save Point!

Why Kickstarter?

I want to make sure I'm not printing copies of something that will then sit in a box in my basement, so crowdfunding lets me make sure I'm making the right number of hard copies. It's additionally letting me pay fair wages to the folks who are lending their skills to the project by copy editing and editing images. 

If there's interest, I'd like Save Point to be self-sustaining, so that I can continue to invest the time it takes to research, write, and draw the contents. Having the first issue paid for before it hits print is a huge step in that direction.

Risks and challenges

The writing and drawings for the zine are already complete and layout is 75% complete. Image editing and copy editing will be completed promptly at the end of the campaign. While there may be issues with printing timelines, I've built in a couple months past when I could reasonably hope to have the project done to have a cushion.

I have managed dozens of publication projects at this point, and I'm confident in my ability to see this project through. My biggest concern is how well this will scale, but if I have an unexpectedly high number of print copies ordered, I will be in a position to hire some help with shipping and logistics.

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  1. Select this reward

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    PDF

    A PDF of the completed zine, delivered via email.

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    1 Print Copy

    You get 1 print copy of Save Point, sent to you anywhere in the U.S.

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    1 Print Copy and a PDF

    You get 1 print copy of Save Point, sent to you anywhere in the U.S. and a PDF of Save Point delivered via email.

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    PDF for classroom use

    PDF delivered via email with permission to share and print for classroom use in perpetuity and at any scale (so, all your classes, forever, regardless of size).

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    1 Print Copy and a PDF for Classroom Use

    1 hard copy mailed to you plus a PDF with permission to print for classroom use (for classes of any size, repeatedly, forever).

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    25 print copies and a PDF.

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Funding period

- (28 days)