In 2013, Gabe Durham pitched a series of critical, historical, and personal nonfiction books about classic video games. And when the generous backers of a Kickstarter campaign said “BRING IT,” Boss Fight Books was born.
Three years later, with our twelfth book on the way, this project just doesn’t feel finished. There are too many games left to explore, too many worlds left to conquer. That’s why we’d like to propose a third season of five NEW books by five NEW writers about five OLD video games.
We hope you’ll subscribe. This is gonna get good.
Each book will be numbered, collectible, and will look great on your shelf together thanks to our returning series designer Ken Baumann. All the books will be available in
- Paperback: 5x7-inch, matte finish, 130-220 pages
- eBook: DRM-free in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF format
Super Mario Bros. 3 by Alyse Knorr
Upon its 1990 NES release, Super Mario Bros. 3 flew in on the P-wings of critical raves, intense popular demand, and the most sophisticated marketing campaign Nintendo of America had ever attempted. Shigeru Miyamoto's ultimate 8-bit platformer lived up to all the hype and elevated Mario from mascot to icon. But what exactly made this game the phenomenon it was?
With the help of her friends and family, critics inside and outside the realm of gaming, and former Nintendo of America employees, Alyse Knorr traverses the Mushroom World looking for answers. Along the way, Knorr unearths SMB3's connections to theater and Japanese folklore, investigates her own princess-rescuing impulses, and examines how the game's animal costumes, themed worlds, tight controls, goofy enemies, and memorable music cohere in a game that solidified Mario's conquest of the NES era.
Read an early excerpt of this book now at Kotaku.
Alyse Knorr teaches at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is the author of two books and two chapbooks of poetry. She received her MFA from George Mason University and serves as a co-founding editor of Gazing Grain Press. Visit her at www.alyseknorr.com.
Mega Man 3 by Salvatore Pane
Capcom's Keiji Inafune followed the unexpected success of Mega Man 2 with a "kitchen sink" sequel that included eight new robot masters, a canine companion, a mysterious new frenemy, and a melancholy tone that runs through the game from its soft opening notes. Mega Man 3 was the biggest, messiest, and most ambitious Mega Man game yet.
But why do we hunger for twitchy, difficult platformers like Mega Man 3 decades later when the developers, the franchise, and the Blue Bomber himself have all moved on, and why do we still revere the outmoded gaming consoles and cartridges on which the games were originally played?
Investigating the development of the Mega Man series with the rise of video game emulation, the YouTube retrogaming scene, and the soaring price of NES carts, novelist Salvatore Pane takes a close and compelling look at the lost power-ups of our youth that we collect in our attempts to become complete again.
Salvatore Pane is the author of the novel Last Call in the City of Bridges. His work has appeared in American Short Fiction, Hobart, Buzzfeed, and many other venues. He's an assistant professor of English at the University of St. Thomas and can be reached at www.salvatore-pane.com.
Soft & Cuddly by Jarett Kobek
A computer game so nauseatingly gory that it came with a barf bag. Bright druggy graphics that sickened scores of proper English parents. Gameplay so violent that it inspired one of Britain's most infamous killing sprees. Soft & Cuddly, released for the ZX Spectrum in 1987, wasn't quite any of these things. But in an age of manufactured moral panics, John George Jones's fluorescent punk manifesto sure pissed off a lot of people.
Featuring new interviews with the the game's creator, Jarett Kobek's book dives deep into the gritty world of British yellow journalism, snarky computer fanzines, DIY home programming, and Soviet bootleg mixtapes. If Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party was right that "video nasties" like Soft & Cuddly were the epitome of 80s depravity, then this book is headed straight to hell.
Jarett Kobek a Turkish-American writer living in California. He's the author of four books including the novel I Hate the Internet, and the creator of an exclusive ZX Spectrum prequel of the same name.
Kingdom Hearts II by Alexa Ray Corriea
Light and darkness. Heroes and villains. Final Fantasy epics and... Donald Duck? The Kingdom Hearts series has always walked a fine line between masterfully executed crossover and nonsensical fan mashup, but Square-Enix and Disney's inter-company franchise remains beloved throughout numerous sequels, prequels, and remixes. Despite the outlandish premise and convoluted lore, what lies at the heart of Kingdom Hearts is more than familiar to fans of Final Fantasy and Disney alike—friendship.
For games critic and JRPG superfan Alexa Ray Corriea, no game in the series better exemplifies friendship than Kingdom Hearts II. Corriea's close reading of protagonist Sora's struggles and triumphs, his friendship with rival Riku, and his dark journey into oblivion illuminates how the unlikely universe of Kingdom Hearts authentically portrays human relationships better than any solo Final Fantasy or Disney game ever could. Just as Kingdom Hearts II is greater than the sum of its parts, Corriea's exploration of the game's themes and emotional depths reveals how much each of us is stronger for the people who surround us.
Alexa Ray Corriea has been writing about video games professionally since 2011. As a high schooler she began her study of Japanese language and culture after a fateful encounter with some un-subtitled game footage on the internet, and has focused primarily on writing and analyzing Japanese games (and especially role-playing games) ever since. Her work has appeared online on G4, Polygon, and GameSpot.
Katamari Damacy by L. E. Hall
What kind of game would meditate on humankind's symbiotic relationship to nature by asking players to rip up entire mountain ranges by the root? Or criticize capitalism by letting us literally consume everything from a thumbtack to a streetlamp—and have a great time doing it? Only a game that takes its silliness very seriously.
But the 2004 release of Katamari Damacy almost didn’t get the ball rolling. Reviewers worldwide weren’t sure how to classify it and initial sales numbers were low. Those who actually played it, though, were won over by its novel gameplay, goofy surrealism, and catchy soundtrack. Pushed into the mainstream by its passionate fans, Katamari remains one of the best video game examples of pure anarchic fun.
Based on new interviews with staff including creator Keita Takahashi himself, game designer and writer L. E. Hall explores the game's development, lore, sequels, and cultural impact, examines Takahashi’s body of work, and investigates the power of play itself.
L. E. Hall is a writer, artist, and experiential designer focusing on the intersection of storytelling, play, and technology. Hall is the writer and game designer behind 60 Minutes to Escape—Portland, Oregon’s first escape-the-room puzzle game—and serves on the board of directors for the Portland Indie Game Squad (PIGSquad).
Each campaign, backers get a chance to elect the subject of one of our upcoming books. The first game chosen was Chrono Trigger, and the second was Shadow of the Colossus. Now it's time for you to pick the next fan-selected Boss Fight Book.
When you back the campaign, hit the comments section and name the game you most want to read a book about. Then, in the last week of the campaign, we're going to tally all the games mentioned and create a shortlist of 3-4 finalists, and you can vote once more on the finalists. From there, we'll put out a call for book pitches about that particular game, and choose the author who we think will write the best book.
No caucuses, no superdelegates, no Facebook flame wars with your uncle's best friend -- just a good clean election. May the best game win.
Since the series launch, Boss Fight Books has been written up in top-tier publications like Kotaku, Polygon, BuzzFeed, Joystiq, GameSpot, Paste, Wired, Game Informer, The Onion A.V. Club, Kill Screen, GameTrailers, VICE, The Atlantic, and elsewhere. Check out a small sample of our press for last season's books:
On Bible Adventures: "Gabe Durham's Bible Adventures is a riot and a joy. A+++" - Justin Taylor, author of Flings and The Gospel of Anarchy *** "Bible Adventures proves literally every game has an insane/important story to tell." - Brock Wilbur, comedian
On Baldur's Gate II: "At once a memoir, a lecture on storycraft, an apology, and a love letter to the classic Dungeons & Dragons video game. [...] Bell reminds us that to write well—and to live well—we must remain true to our hidden, buried selves." - Fiction Advocate
On Metal Gear Solid: "Metal Gear Solid is a great critical book about a game that the authors clearly love, and the switching of voices between Ashly and Anthony Burch provides a nice point and counterpoint that allows the text to disagree with itself fairly often. What emerges is some firm yet friendly back and forth analysis that opens up a canonical videogame further than it ever has been before." 9/10 - Paste
On Shadow of the Colossus: "Suttner's Shadow of the Colossus captures the essence, both mechanical and emotional, of what made the game so special." - IndieGames.com *** "Well-written, well-researched, and enlightening ...I loved the book." - Cultured Vultures
On Spelunky: "Maybe the best primer on game design ever written." - Zach Gage *** "Spelunky might be our Understanding Comics." - Adam Saltsman
Try before you buy! Check out excerpts of all of our current titles:
- Chrono Trigger
- Jagged Alliance 2
- Super Mario Bros. 2
- Bible Adventures
- Baldur's Gate II
- Metal Gear Solid
- Shadow of the Colossus
June 2016: Digital Kickstarter rewards arrive. (Anthology, magazines, etc.) Next open reading period for book pitches. This will include both general pitches and pitches for the new fan-selected book.
July 2016: First book arrives.
September 2016: Second book arrives.
November 2016: Third book arrives.
January 2017: Fourth book arrives.
April 2017: Fifth book arrives.
We currently estimate that the books will come out in the following order: Super Mario Bros. 3, Mega Man 3, Soft & Cuddly, Kingdom Hearts II, Katamari Damacy. But the order will likely change based on when each book is ready.
We need your help to keep Boss Fight Books going! Our expenses include:
- eBook conversion
- Rights to high-resolution cover images
- Book storage
- Boss Fight website upkeep
- California LLC fees
- Advances: If our campaign hits a stretch goal of $10,000, each of our authors will receive an advance of $500.
The more money we raise, the more we can do!
$5,000 - Initial Goal: We will be able to put these five books out into the world!
$10,000 - Author Advances: Each of our Season 3 authors will get a $500 advance on their book.
$15,000 - Author Interviews: Our Season 3 authors will interview one another about their forthcoming books, and we'll post them for free online.
$20,000 - Anthology Bonus: We'll give a free digital copy of Continue? The Boss Fight Books Anthology (as a DRM-free MOBI, EPUB, and PDF) to everyone who backs the campaign at $25 and up.
$30,000 - Unwinnable Monthly Bonus: The terrific magazine Unwinnable will give the first three digital PDF issues of Unwinnable Monthly to everyone who backs the campaign at $25 and up. A $30 value.
$40,000 - Kill Screen Bonus: The brilliant magazine Kill Screen will give two digital PDF issues of the magazine to everyone who backs the campaign at $25 and up. A $10 value.
$50,000 - Spelunky Steam Code Bonus: Derek Yu and his team will generously give a free Spelunky Steam code for PC to everyone who backs the campaign at $100 and up. A $15 value.
$53,186 - Demolish Season 2 Funding Record: We'll go back in time and slap our past selves in the face for thinking we ran the best Kickstarter campaign of our lives.
$60,000 - Audiobook(s) - We’ll brave new frontiers by recording an audiobook of one of our titles, and make it available on Audible.
This Kickstarter season, we've got some great reward tiers for signed books, gamer profiles, an evening with the authors, and a ton of bonus content. But our Kickstarter at its simplest looks like this:
- For $25, you'll get digital copies of all our Season 3 books delivered right to your email account.
- For $100, you'll get print and digital copies of all our Season 3 books delivered right to your mailbox and email account. (Includes shipping in the U.S. with an additional $10 per book internationally.)
- For $300, you'll get the entire shelf of Boss Fight Books. All our current titles will be mailed/emailed to you right after the campaign, and each Season 3 title will be mailed/emailed to you as it is released.
That's it! And as always, you can "a la carte" the books you want most or get a digital subscription that includes one print book.
And this year, there is less time between the campaign and the new season than ever before. Super Mario Bros. 3 is complete, and all the other books have been in the works for a year or more.
If you've been with Boss Fight awhile, we hope you'll take this opportunity to renew your subscription. Your support will allow us to keep Boss Fight going another year, and you'll keep receiving each of our books before its public release.
If you're new to Boss Fight, we're glad you found us! You can subscribe to the new season, order existing books from our website, and get digital copies of our whole catalogue through...
During the month of this campaign, you can instantly get digital copies of our first TEN books at StoryBundle for just $15.
That's EarthBound, Chrono Trigger, ZZT, Galaga, Jagged Alliance 2, Super Mario Bros. 2, Bible Adventures, Baldur's Gate II, Metal Gear Solid, and Shadow of the Colossus for just $1.50 per book. (Plus a copy of our anthology as a bonus treat.) Our catalogue may never be this cheap again.
Part of each StoryBundle purchase goes to Pixelles, a great Montreal-based nonprofit "dedicated to empowering more women to make and change games" through workshops, mentorship programs, game jams, and more.
And with your StoryBundle purchase, you'll also get a special discount code for 10% off all paperbacks sold at bossfightbooks.com.
Risks and challenges
All five of our authors are already hard at work on their books -- except for Alyse Knorr, who has already crossed the finish line. Some books may take more time than we or the authors expected.
Boss Fight remains a press with only one full-time employee, and accepting, editing, releasing, fulfilling, and promoting each of these books can be pretty intense. There may be some times in the next year where we are so inundated with tasks that it will take me (Gabe here!) a few extra days to get back to your questions. That said, I promise to always keep you in the loop on how these books are coming, and to work with you if issues ever arise.
Last, you should know that we've got one more book from Season 2 left to fulfill: World of Warcraft by Daniel Lisi. This book is currently in copyediting/layout, and getting very close to being ready to print. I can't wait to share it with you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)