The painter slaving away, surrounded by half-finished canvases and empty paint cans. The writer sitting hunched under lamplight after midnight, pen grinding away at a notebook. The guitar player, head bent, playing variations on a simply melody, endlessly stopping and restarting to find the right note. These are classic images of the artist at work. But what of the 21st century and the boom of video games as the most profitable form of art on the market? What is its iconic image of the artist at work? Jason Schreier’s 2017 Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories behind How Video Games Are Made takes a look at what that might be.
Case-based journalism, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels takes a look at the making of ten well-known video games over the past decade. Personally interviewing and engaging with the game’s directors, creators, artists, CEOs, animators, technical leads, play testers, programmers, story writers, producers, etc. the book provides a comprehensive view of the obstacles, luck, quality choices, challenges, and limitations each game faced on its way to glory, infamy, and in one game’s case, nowhere. Not a technical book (i.e. how to make a video game step-by-step), Schreier looks at the interlock of budget problems, time restraints, ambition, failed and kept promises, market concerns, publisher interference, lack of coherent teams, the value of strong vision, and a number of other topics, and how these combined to give us the games we are familiar with, for better or worse. The people interviewed are amazingly candid, and the stories they tell and information they pass on makes for an honest look—not exposé—of the real concerns of video game developers in the 21st century.