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Brian Riggsbee, Founder of Retro Game Books — Interview Series



Retro Game Books

As we gradually teeter closer towards a future that’s solely centered around digital media and all things subscription-based, it’s hard to discard the looming concern over physical media, as adored as it is by millions upon millions of fans, eventually becoming defunct and sidelined for alternative forms. As luck would have it, though, some branches on the tree are still fighting to keep such print-based ideologies alive, one of which is Retro Game Books, an online firm that not only ships printed maps, textbooks, and cult classic anthologies, but also retro-inspired apparel and other nifty items, too.

In an attempt to broaden the scope ever so slightly, we caught up with Retro Game Books’ founder, Brian Riggsbee, to discuss the gaming industry’s transition from physical to digital media, as well as RGB’s placement in the ever-evolving community.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Brian. Before we delve into the world of print and physical media, tell us a bit about your background in game design. How did it all start for you?

Brian: Like many developers I got started in the gaming industry in QA. This was at a startup called TKO Software (which is now defunct) in Santa Cruz, California where we primarily worked on Medal of Honor games for EA. Soon after I took on leadership positions in QA and then later switched into production. Design was what I also had my eyes on, so while I was a producer at Page 44 Studios (San Francisco) I applied to be a game designer, and they accepted me into that position. There I designed for games such as Disney’s Hannah Montana: Rock Out the Show (PSP) and Disney Channel All Star Party (Wii). Those games never fully scratched the designer itch for me, so in my spare time I would build maps and campaigns for Counter-Strike: Source and Left-4-Dead 2.

Tell us about Retro Game Books. When was the company founded, and what inspired you to choose physical media over digital?

Brian: Retro Game Books was founded in 2020. It all started with one book: The Complete History of Rygar. While we offer digital versions of all of our exclusive books, it’s print media that I’m most attracted to. For me, there’s a special kind of joy when you hold a physical book in your hands. There’s a feel and smell to the pages that cannot be replicated digitally, and there’s that amazing feeling when you flip through, waiting to uncover what’s next. Plus, there’s no replacement for having a curated physical collection on your shelf.

Digital media is clearly on the rise, too. How do you find it, keeping the art of physical media in the spotlight for younger generations?

Brian: Retro Game Books caters to both those that are looking for a dose of nostalgia as well as the younger generation that is interested in learning about the earlier phases in gaming. Occasionally I hear from parents who purchase our books so that they can experience the content with their child, and I love hearing these stories. While it’s true that digital media is on the rise, there’s still a huge market for those that want to experience books in a physical format. In fact, there’s customers that will purchase both the physical and digital versions of our books, as they see a place for both.

Retro Game Books Store

Credit: Retro Game Books

And why do you think it’s so important to keep physical media alive in this day and age?

Brian: In the case of our books, you own what you purchase, regardless of the media type. In other words, when you order a digital book from us, you get to download it directly to your device of choice. It’s yours. You own it. But the same cannot be said for digital movies, games, and music. While you may feel like you own it, really you are just purchasing access to that media which could be revoked and removed at any time. Plus, it’s challenging (if not impossible, in many cases) to share digital media with friends. Lastly, I’m a father of a toddler, and I vastly prefer sharing physical content with him over digital, when the option is available. Sure, he can only watch the Mario movie on a screen, but when it comes to books, there’s no replacement for flipping through the actual, real pages.

I couldn’t agree more! So tell us, What’s next for Retro Game Books, if you don’t me asking? Will you be releasing any new map books, ebooks, or apparel at any point over the coming months?

Brian: We have a lot of projects that are currently in production, and many more in the backlog. There’s a book that is being written by a former game journalist right now. I’m producing another map-themed book. Also, I expect more apparel to hit the store later this year. If you want to check out our products in person, we plan to be at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo later this year, as well as a few other expos.

Retro Game Books comics

Credit: Retro Game Books

For those who are interested in picking up an article or two from the retro-centric catalog, where is the best place to start? Do you have any recommendations?

Brian: That’s a tough one, as so many retro gaming themed items are so expensive these days! I’m lucky to have held on to so many of my childhood items and to have picked up games off eBay before things got out of control. One category I really enjoy exploring are Japanese guide books, which tend to be less expensive than U.S. based games. They are a ton of fun to flip through and typically have incredible artwork. 

Any final words for our readers?

Brian: I love chatting with the retro gaming community and have been most active on Threads lately. You can find me at @retrogamebooks there. We are also accepting pitches for book deals, so head over to if you want to submit a pitch.

Thanks again, Brian. We wish both you and Retro Game Books all then best for the future!

To see even more of RGB’s catalog, you can check in with the team over on their official social handle here. Alternatively, you can visit their site for additional information here.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.