Read-Only Memory: the publisher reviving game design history

Read-Only Memory releases artistic, minimally designed books stuffed with lurid game graphics. But it’s not just nostalgia at play, its books are uncovering video games’ little-known visual history. We talk to founder Darren Wall as part of our games week special

Darren Wall started Read-Only Memory in 2012, but originally had no intention of launching a publishing company. Having spent most of his career creating book and record covers, he wanted to start designing complete books – but needed some experience doing so first. Wall decided to release something of his own get a foot in the door, and set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund a “gallery-style book on video game history”.

Although he’d approached other publishers, he says they were bemused by the amount of detail he wanted to go into. “Video game books before then would be like The 100 Greatest Games or 50 Greatest Video Game Characters,” he says. “I’m a big documentary nerd, and I read a lot of non-fiction, and I wondered why there was nothing about video games and that ilk. Why can’t I read a piece on video games that’s almost a bit like a Rolling Stone or Vice article that goes into the pop cultural history? There’s all these urban myths around games, about people that fell out or dramatic production processes, so there was an interesting story there.”