- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Three Rivers Press (April 5, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307463559
- ISBN-13: 978-0307463555
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 72 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture Paperback – April 5, 2011
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From Publishers Weekly
This highly informative book, written by veteran gaming columnist Goldberg, is billed as the first of its kind, spanning 50 years of video game history with its zany personalities, many trends, and marketing coups. The video game industry boasts revenues equaling that of Hollywood and a huge consumer base of 70% of Americans playing its games, Goldberg reveals. He details the ebb-and-flow of video game history and stories of its creators such as Ralph Baer, Nolan Bushnell, Hiroshi Yamauchi, William "Tripp" Hawkins, Dan and Sam Houser, Graeme Devine, and Jason Kapulka. His coverage of the development of games like Tennis for Two, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Dungeons & Dragons, Myst, Sims, and Grand Theft Auto will appeal not only to nerds and gamers in Goldberg's easily accessible anecdotes but to those who grew up with these games through generations. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A love letter to gaming...filled with fascinating behind-the-scenes vignettes of game creation…perfectly encapsulates the passion and dedication of videogames’ creators and fans."—Abbie Heppe, senior producer, G4TV
"The best window into the video game industry on the market today."—Steve Kent, author of The Ultimate History of Video Games
"Harold Goldberg’s portrait of a weird, often dysfunctional and amazing video game industry makes a great, great read."—Ken Levine, co-founder and creative director, Irrational Games
"Indispensable…Goldberg takes us inside the hearts and minds of the hackers, hustlers, engineers, and dreamers who changed electronic entertainment forever."--Matt Helgeson, senior editor, Game Informer
"A story as riveting and addictive as the games it explores…If you’ve ever wanted someone to explain how and why video games captured the world’s imagination, this is the book for you."--James Ledbetter, editor in charge, Reuters.com
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Top customer reviews
Page 1: "In 1966, Ralph Baer, a short, bespectacled man with a deep, radio-quality voice and a sharp wit, had been a successful engineer for thirty years."
If this is true, then Baer became a successful engineer in 1936 when he was 14 years old, and two years before he fled Nazi Germany.
Page 20: "The testing ground for Pong, the very first arcade game, was a newly opened bar in the Silicon Valley."
But Pong was not the first arcade game, Computer Space was. And the book says that on the following page.
Page 34: "At first, no one was interested in the home version (of Pong), even when the game was shown to retailers at New York City's famous and chaotic Toy Fair. Part of the Toy Fair debacle was due to Bushnell and his people being wet behind the ears. Their space for Toy Fair wasn't in the building at Broadway and Twenty-third Street where most business was done. It was far away (in the Jacob Javits Convention Center). Few stopped by."
Home Pong came out in 1975. The Jacob Javits Convention Center opened in 1986.
Page 42-43: "Wozniak pocketed $375, but Jobs kept the remainder of the $5,000. When Wozniak discovered what Jobs had been paid, his hacker heart, which had led him to work on Breakout for art's sake, was broken. Wozniak never really trusted Jobs completely again - even though they went on to create Apple together"
Wozniak didn't learn about how Jobs screwed him on Breakout until 1984, years after they started Apple, when he learned about it while reading a book about Atari during a flight to Fort Lauderdale.
Page 45: "Stella, with its eight-bit graphics processor, became the Atari 2600, proudly nicknamed the Video Computer System (VCS)."
It wasn't nicknamed the Video Computer System, it was called that. It didn't start being called the 2600 until 1982, after the 5200 was released.
Page 53: "On December 8, 1982, after horrible earnings were reported to the public, the stock plummeted. .....No eyes were sewn shut, and no one had to lie prostrate on the ground, but New Atari owner Jack Tramiel, formerly president of Commodore International, butchered the staff from two thousand to a few hundred."
Tramiel bought Atari in 1984.
Page 242: "In 1999, much of Sony Online Entertainment's early work was with casual games......Sony's PlayStation 2, which played games and DVDs, had been released that past March to great acclaim......Some of this chapter is informed by my firsthand experience in working with the casual genre while employed at Sony Online Entertainment."
The PS2 was released in Asia in March 2000 and in North America in October 2000.
It starts out well researched and expands on the early days of the history of video games, even if it does make frequent mistakes and tries too hard and often to make pop culture references. For example, the star in the original Super Mario Bros. does not give you health, and World of Warcraft came out in 2004, not 2005 as stated in the book. The pop culture references can be pretty grating, and sound too hard like a youth minister trying to sound cool to his Sunday school class with such phrases as 'most of the others ran to the hills like Sonic the Hedgehog on speed' or comparing snowfall to that found on a planet in Dead Space 2.
The first third of the book details the rise of early video games, from the humble origins in labs to the fall of Atari and the rise of Nintendo. After that it seems to lose a sense of chronology. It spends a chapter talking about early 1990s adventure games on the PC, has a brief chapter on the original PlayStation, has another chapter about late 1990s adventure games, details the beginnings of EverQuest, then jumps straight into the birth of World of Warcraft. The chapters and timelines get equally random from that point on, as it jumps to the 7th Gen of video games to tell the history of the development of BioShock, jumps back in time to spend a couple chapters on Grand Theft Auto, spends a quick chapter on PopCap, then jumps further back in time to explain SimCity and Sims before doing a chapter on the Wii. It finally ends with, probably the most random choice of all, a chapter on Shadow Complex.
For a book that even attempts a brief overview of the history of video games, it misses or glosses over such pivotal moments as the advent of Doom and the FPS, the dominance of the PlayStation 2, fighting games, RTS games, Minecraft, Pokémon, Steam, and many other cultural touchstones. Whenever a title like Final Fantasy VII or Halo is briefly mentioned, it feels like more name dropping. Why not spend more time expanding on these games and how they affected the industry, rather than getting a line in so the game can be mentioned in the index?
Just like the title, the whole book feels like a forced attempt to appeal to its audience, and it did have a sense of direction for the first third or so. After that it becomes padded and increasingly error prone. I only slightly recommend it for some interesting stories and insights on the topics it does cover, but it is far from complete.