While PC gaming has a long and storied history, we don’t hear much about Macintosh computers when it comes to gaming history, and that’s a shame. Apple has a long history with games since the company first started making computers and even before when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak worked at Atari. So it’s good to see someone shed some light on this sadly under-reported saga of gaming history, and Bitmap Books certainly did a great job of that.
Bitmap Books decided to contribute to the coverage of the history of games. By releasing books on RPGs, unreleased games, and platform history, the company aims to celebrate not only video games, but the people behind the games, be they developers, coders, writers, and so on. In the past, we’ve already reviewed Bitmap Books’ JRPG Handbook titled Straight Through: The Complete Guide to Side-Scrolling Beat-Em-Up, so now it’s time to take a look at the Secret History of JRPGs. Mac Gaming: Enhanced Edition.
For starters, this review is a little different, as we were not sent a physical book, but a PDF version. It was well put together and we were able to easily navigate through the chapters as well as see the different in-game art used inside. While physical books remain our preferred choice, this PDF was one of the most professionally crafted pieces we’ve seen in a long time, with a physical version of the book still available.
The Secret History of Mac Gaming: Expanded Edition covers the entire history of Macintosh computers in gaming from their inception to the present day, and along the way, a lot of details have emerged that have become amazing discoveries. From developer stories and a detailed timeline of events, we have good context for what happened to not only make Mac games important, but games in general. The Secret History of Mac Gaming: Expanded Edition shows a platform that allowed for innovation in many different ways, and just as PCs played a role in driving gaming forward, Macs also played a role in setting milestones like Myst and Sim City, and, of course led to the creation of AAA franchises like Halo.
Take adventure games as an example, since while adventure games have existed for years in the form of text-based adventure games and soon gave life to graphical adventures, it was the Mac that helped advance the point-and-click interface. The MACventures line of games are detailed here, and these games, which include classics like Déjà vu and Shadowgate, set the stage for later Lucasarts games like The Secret of Monkey Island. Much of this, as explained in the book, is due to the design of the Mac, which allowed for new interface options.
The Secret History of Mac Gaming: Expanded Edition also includes a number of guest chapters written by authors such as Craig Friar, creator of Specter, among others. These chapters allow us to better understand what went on in the development of Macintosh games and why the decisions were made. Unlike a game genre book, this is a much more direct history book, and therefore feels more academic than natural than previous Bitmap Books publications. One notable addition is the inclusion of a discussion of the Macintosh fandom and fan resources such as magazines that have helped spread the word about games such as Mac World.
Of course, The Secret History of Mac Gaming: Expanded Edition is about the big games we all know and love and why those games mattered and the consequences. Games like Myth and Marathon stand out for their importance to the platform when competing with PCs, but sections also focus on pinball and sports games, which have played just as much of a role in the longevity of Macs as gaming platforms. One thing that was really interesting to read about was Game Ranger, a free online multiplayer service for Mac inspired by games like Quake, whose presence on the web gave rise to esports. Although FPS games for Mac are not as memorable, they are just as good quality as FPS games for PC.
As the title suggests, The Secret History of Mac Gaming: Expanded Edition is an expanded edition of the previous edition of the book and contains some great new stuff. There are 70 pages of new content, including a new foreword by Graham Devine, co-author of The 7.th Guest, the aforementioned commentary timeline, and many other games discussed. However, it’s important to remember that the history of Mac gaming is far from over, and indeed the chapters are dedicated to showing how the Mac handles gaming in the modern era. When online storefronts change the game, we can get a good idea of what led Apple to eventually create its Apple Arcade, which seems to be the culmination of everything that happened before.
The Secret History of Mac Gaming: Expanded Edition is an essential book for all gaming fans or anyone who wants to learn about history as it happened and not just rely on articles and videos from bad sources. Credit should be given to Richard Moss for writing this 480-page masterpiece and providing much-needed attention to the platform’s history, which is sadly overlooked. I would even say that it can be used as a reference for those who teach computer history.
All in all, you can’t go wrong with The Secret History of Mac Gaming: Expanded Edition. We sincerely recommend checking it out and we give it our highest recommendation.
Disclaimer: As mentioned, review copy has been provided.