A recently-successful Kickstarter campaign is aiming to resurrect Pilgrim in the Microworld, an important and long-out-of-print book that dissects Atari's classic game, Breakout. One of the earliest and most rigorous works of long-form game criticism, Pilgrim in the Microworld was written by professor David Sudnow and originally published in 1979. Despite its significance to the history of video game writing, the book has been out of print for over 30 years and is currently only available through the secondhand market or legally-dubious PDF documents.
David Sudnow was a professor of sociology in the University of California system as well as a lifelong pianist and piano teacher. He was also an accomplished author; he wrote Passing On: The Social Organization of Dying and received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his piano theory book Ways of the Hand. With Pilgrim in the Microworld, Sudnow deconstructed Breakout like he would deconstruct the piano - learning to play better and better while exploring the intersection of "eye, mind, and the essence of video skill". At the time, the book's detractors mocked such a serious study of a video game, but it became a seminal work in video game criticism and predates most other games analysis by decades.
Just a few days ago, Boss Fight Books launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring Pilgrim in the Microworld back. The campaign reached its $1,000 goal in only 45 minutes, and now sits at $4,409 in pledges with 11 days to go. The new paperback version will be published as Breakout: Pilgrim in the Microworld, and will include a forward from Boss Fight Books editor Gabe Durham as well as a fresh copy edit. The Kickstarter page states that the book has been "typeset with the written text restored through meticulous comparison to original copies." It also retains the vintage illustrations, which "serve to highlight Sudnow's original text." The digital version of the book can be obtained for a $5 pledge, and you can get both a physical and digital copy for $15. Digital copies will be sent out in December, while physical copies will be mailed in January 2020.
The Kickstarter campaign only asked for $1,000 because all of the actual work on the book has already been finished, and the campaign itself is meant to cover the printing and production costs. However, the campaign does include stretch goals: it has already passed the $2,500 mark, so all backers at the $15 tier or higher will now get a digital copy of Nintendo 64 Video Games You Will Never Play. At $5,000, those $15 backers also get a digital copy of Continue? The Boss Fight Books Anthology. If it reaches $7,500, digital copies of PlayStation Video Games You Will Never Play will also be added.
Boss Fight Books has published numerous video game books in the past, most of which have also been crowdfunded. However, this will be the first time it has rereleased an older title under its label. Nonetheless, Boss Fight has a track record of good quality with its other books, so one can be reasonably sure that the publisher will do justice to Sudnow's landmark work.