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Preview: read joystick nation

They may have been around for less than 30 years, but video games have packed a great deal into their short life.

Platformers, sims, shoot-em-ups and the rest are already serious rivals to the music and film industries, and despite their youth, certainly deserve this first serious attempt at a history.

Like the arcade classics of the 1980s, JC Herz's account is smart, stimulating and cleverly packaged, as a collection of essays rather than a linear account. Skip as you may from the early geeks playing Pong to the corporate console wars between Sega, Atari and Nintendo, or from adolescent memories of Pac Man to modern-day Mario and Lara Croft. You just can't help but keep feeding in the quarters.

`Joystick Nation' is published by Abacus on 11 December, priced pounds 9.99