ZZT by Anna Anthropy

$ 4.95

Release Date: June 2, 2014
142 pages
ISBN 13: 978-1-940535-02-9 

In 1991, long before Epic Games was putting out blockbusters like Unreal, Infinity Blade, and Gears of War, Tim Sweeney released a strange little MS-DOS shareware game called ZZT. The simplicity of its text graphics masked the complexity of its World Editor: players could use ZZT to design their own games.

This feature was a revelation to thousands of gamers, including Anna Anthropy, author of Rise of the Videogame Zinesters. ZZT is an exploration of a submerged continent, a personal history of the shareware movement, ascii art, messy teen identity struggle, cybersex, transition, outsider art, the thousand deaths of Barney the Dinosaur, and what happens when a ten-year-old gets her hands on a programming language she can understand. It’s been said that the first Velvet Underground album sold only a few thousand copies, but that everyone who heard it formed a band. Well not everyone has played ZZT, but everyone who played it became a game designer.

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Anna Anthropy is a game creator, historian, and thirty-year-old teen witch. Her previous books include Rise of the Videogame Zinesters and Star Wench, which she recently made a ZZT version of. She lives in Oakland, California with her familiar, a little black cat named Encyclopedia Frown.


"Anthropy has set the gold standard for book-length studies of games with ZZT, and I would strongly encourage anyone even thinking about writing about games to start here." 9.8/10 - Paste

"ZZT should be required reading by anyone interested in game design." - Videodame

"Informative and evocative, ZZT shows how a game can be not just a toy but an important means of individual expression." - GameCritics

“Read it, whether you’ve played ZZT or not, and be blown away by the possibilities latent in even the simplest games.” –The Well-Red Mage

"Moving and interesting even if you've never played the game—and that might be the truest mark of a successful piece of criticism." - Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods

"Reading through ZZT was such a joy. I say that as someone who had only the vaguest knowledge about it before reading. Although I had never touched the program, never played a game designed with it, or anything of the sort, I couldn’t help but keep reading. Anna is simply a tremendous writer." - Cliqist

"I’m glad somebody finally wrote the story of my people ... Highly recommended." - Bill Meeks, author of Dogboy Adventures series

"Her analysis effortlessly straddles computer science, design, art history, anthropology, and gender theory, all wrapped in a personal story of her childhood. It is a very easy, enjoyable, and insightful read." - Robert Yang

"It’s so grounded, so accessible, and so clear and, unsurprising for Anthropy, so grounded in a broader sense of culture and politics and not just Videogames as this thing disconnected from the rest of society. Easily the best book produced by Boss Fight Books to date." - Brendan Keough author of Killing is Harmless

"Fantastic." - Abnormal Mapping

"Anthropy’s ZZT invites the reader into a world where anything is possible." - Heavy Feather Review

Excerpt: Kotaku

More Reviews: Goodreads

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