Retro gaming gets the art book treatment

Creative agency Wallzo's biography of the retro video game company Sensible Software promises to be "a print fetishist's dream".

Read Only-Memory's art book will be published in a poster edition, a personalised edition, plus a vinyl EP edition including songs from Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder

Sensible Software - the UK-based company behind classic '90s games such as Sensible Soccer - is the focus of the first project from Read-Only Memory, set up by Darren Wall of Wallzo.

Aiming to be the definitive biography of Sensible Software, the book will be published in a poster edition, a personalised edition, plus a vinyl EP edition including songs from Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder. Darren Wall gives us the lowdown...

How did this project come about?

Darren Wall

"I’ve spent some time in Japan over the past few years, and out there you can buy game art 'mooks' - which are beautiful magazine/book hybrids full of artwork and character designs for various game franchises. I spent a lot of time hunting them down, and it got me longing for the same sort of thing for the games I'd grown up with.

"That feeling, combined with a love of the kind of journalism I had discovered in game magazines like Zzap64 and Amiga Power, led me to the idea of producing really high quality books about video games that were half visual, half biography - more at home in a gallery shop than on a newsstand."

Aaaah, the lost evenings playing Sensible Soccer, scoring direct from corners...

Why start with Sensible Software?

"I wanted to start with something I knew inside out, and Sensible was the company I'd obsessed over as a child. I'd played and loved all their games back to the C64 days, so I knew what should go in the book, who should be interviewed and the 'tone of voice' the publication should have. I also knew I wasn't alone, and that Sensible still had a huge fanbase.

"When I launched the project on Kickstarter I had no idea if we would succeed or not. I had a fear it would all fall flat, but on the first day we made $8,000, and the response from the fans was overwhelming. I think even Jon Hare, Sensible co-founder was overwhelmed by it all, so it was a great day for us."

Sensible Software didn’t just produce Sensible Soccer, the studio’s other titles include Cannon Fodder, Mega-Lo-Mania and Wizball on a range of platforms

What stock will the book be? And what about the production values?

"We've costed for three stocks. The written section will be an uncoated creme/beige stock printed with two colours, green and dark grey, and the section comprising the game images will be on a glossy white. We're also looking to include a short 20-page sketchbook section on something like a 70gsm uncoated paper, smaller than the other pages. This section will feature lots of early drawings from the games. The jacket will be a double-sided 600x400mm poster that wraps around the book, with matt grey foil typography.

"Since the Kickstarter is doing well, we might very well go over our required funding goal. In this case we may increase the spec of the book. It might get bigger, the paper may become heavier or we may even increase the page count. It's a print fetishist's dream."

This interview was originally published in Computer Arts issue 207.

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