Jerry Changed The Game! How Engineer Jerry Lawson Revolutionized Video Games Forever

Author: Don Tate

Illustrator: Cherise Harris

Published: August 2023

Publisher: Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books

Meet Jerry Lawson, the Black engineer who revolutionized the video game industry, in this engaging picture book biography perfect for fans of Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions and Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History.

Before Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch, there was a tinkerer named Jerry Lawson. As a boy, Jerry loved playing with springs, sprockets, and gadget-y things. When he grew up, Jerry became an engineer—a professional tinkerer—and in the 1970s, he turned his technical know-how to video games.

Back then, if players wanted a new video game, they had to buy an entire new console, making gaming very expensive. Jerry was determined to fix this problem, and despite roadblocks along the way and having to repeat a level or two, it was never game over for his mission. Eventually, he leveled up and built a brand-new kind of video game console: one that allowed players to switch out cartridges! He also founded Video Soft, Inc., the first African American–owned video game company in the country.

Jerry’s tinkering and inventions changed the video gaming world forever. Today, gamers have access to hundreds of video games at the push of a button, all thanks to him. Game on!



Kirkus Reviews

“Harris’ vivid illustrations and graphics complement Tate’s engaging text. Enticing and inspiring fare.”



“Readers will understand that Lawson was a dedicated, determined, and inventive man who paved the way for video games and Black entrepreneurs.”




Click here to download the JERRY CHANGED THE GAME! standards-aligned Educator’s Guide for Grades 1-5 for classrooms, libraries, and community groups.






• Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

Eureka! Excellence in Nonfiction Award Honor Title (CA)

CBC Best STEM Book List Selection

2023 Nerdies: Nonfiction Picture Book Award

2023 Denver Public Library 2023 Staff Picks for Kids – Nonfiction & Poetry

• 2024 Mathical Book Prize winner

• 2024-2025 Cypress Fairbanks ISD Horned Toad Tale List