1972 to 2022
Author and publisher Winnie Forster promises: “Half a century of screen fun and digital action, chronologically and well-founded – in plain language, technology tables, 800 device photos and screenshots.” bundles the game years from 1972 to 2022. The mere use of the word “device photos” should make it clear to anyone interested that the author is not a YouTube creator or influencer in the 20s, but a games journalist from the old guard.
“Game Consoles and Home Computers” was the first book by his GAMEplan publishing company – the slim 144-page booklet from 2002 has now become a stately, heavy paperback with 288 pages and high-quality thread binding. Forster was once employed at PowerPlay, co-founder of the magazine Video Games and editor-in-chief at MAN!AC, today Germany’s longest-serving video game trade journal. His industry expertise is undisputed, his interest in hardware and new technologies unbroken – Forster illuminates the technical details of the consoles and computers, does not shy away from chipset details and goes into a wide variety of hardware variants in a more detailed and well-founded manner than any other German-speaking author.
Plain gray cover, lots of content – the fifth edition of a modern nerd classic.
Sometimes the texts seem very brief and shortened, sometimes saving verbs where possible – the author does not offer a whimsical prose walk through the history of games, but rather wants to pack as many facts as possible into the texts. That is also necessary, almost 100 devices and systems are presented with their own articles – everything is garnished with exclusive photos, screenshots, pixel cutouts, technology boxes and the mentioned omissions about countless hardware variants and revisions. The quality of the images is consistently high, but the layout cannot hide the fact that it was created a few years ago. The interior of the book is therefore not ugly, but like many of the classic consoles presented, it looks gray.
The fifth edition
Since the fourth version from 2015, Forster’s Almanac has grown by 24 pages: They are divided between Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, Oculus Quest, Switch, PS5, Xbox Series S/X, Evercade VS, Steam Deck and a a few additional exotics like Bandai’s Playdia or Koeis Pasogo. Don’t you know, but sounds exciting? Then the book is a Schmker tip for you. In addition, a new digression is at the start that touches on limited editions, mini-consoles or Pokemon Go. The book now extends to the announcement of the DualSense Edge controller for the PS5, the work has been available since last December.
In general, hardware celebrities such as SNES, PlayStation 2, Atari 7800 or Sega Saturn take place there as well as MSX home computers, the British computer Oric-1 or quirky handhelds and exotics. After you’ve read it, you’ll definitely be in good shape for the next nerdy pub quiz, or you can immediately look for a Virtual Boy or GP32 in good condition in the relevant online marketplaces.
Anyone who already owns the 2015 edition should think twice about whether seven additional years on 24 pages are worth the price of 32.90 euros. The reading samples built in two paragraphs above could make it easier for everyone else to make a purchase decision. “Game consoles and home computers” are of course available in the relevant (online) bookshops, but also directly in the GAMEplan shop. Anyone who has been there will find further reading material for the nerdy wall of books with the C64 book “Volkscomputer” or the gigantic studio and developer encyclopedia “Spielmacher”.