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Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children Hardcover – April 27, 1993

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite its title, this overlong book is a generally admiring look at the operation and history of Nintendo, Japan's most successful company and the maker of that country's most lucrative cultural export. Given broad access to the videogame company's executives, Sheff ( The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono ) examines Nintendo's humble origins and growth. He recounts its gutsy entry into the U.S. market, its bruising tactics against competitors, its marketing brilliance and the controversy over its recent purchase of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Unfortunately, Sheff's chronicle is choppy, overwhelmed by an excess of superfluous details and scene-setting, and weakened by his attempt to incorporate other computer-industry stories, such as that of the fall of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, into the narrative. Illustrations not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Using extensive interviews with Nintendo executives in Japan, America, and Europe, Sheff, a magazine reporter, gives a narrative account of the swift rise of the Japanese company from the early Eighties to the present. This well-written book examines what has made this company--which has $4.7 billion in annual sales in America alone--so successful and pervasive. It loads 16 chapters with sales totals, market shares, and sweeping comparisons with IBM, Apple, and Disney in an attempt to get inside the workings of this relentlessly competitive high-tech business. In nonacademic and nontechnical language, this book does a good job of exploring Nintendo's planning, R & D and engineering, product development, market penetration and development, Japanese business methods, software development, arrival in America and legal issues, business with the Russians, worldwide competition, and plans for staking out the future. Filled with absorbing human anecdotes, this refreshing work is recommended not only for specialized business readers but for anyone curious to learn about the flourishing Nintendo organization. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/92.
- Joseph W. Leonard, Miami Univ., Oxford, Ohio
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 445 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (April 27, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679404694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679404699
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,325,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eric H. Roth on February 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
An alarmist, almost apocalyptic tone compromises this otherwise well-researched primer on the sudden emergence of a Japanese entertainment company in the early 1990s. Super Mario, Nintendo's mascot, became more familiar to American children in 1990 than Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse. Nintendo also dominated the market that holiday season by owning 25 of the top 30 most popular toys sold. American toy companies Hasbro and Mattel were left far, far behind.
Author David Sheff concludes, "Nintendo sailded past stalwart American corporations such as IBM, Disney, and Apple Computer, not only in profitability, but also in impact on American culture." The melodramatic title broadcasts his peculiar premise that there is something very sinister about millions of obsessive American children playing witty and clever video games - if they are designed by a Japanese company for profit. (Do American companies seek a loss?) Written during the mid 1990's when fear of Japan was still strong, Sheff's seems to pander to populist anxieties about new technologies, foreigners, and big international companies in the opening chapters.
Ironically, the majority of Sheff's book undercuts those exaggerated fears of conquering Asians using "ruthless scorched earth" business practices like developing affordable hardware and creative software products. Social scientists and psychologists are extensively quoted praising Nintendo games as more interactive, intellectually demanding, and entertaining than television. (This was written in the pre-internet, pre-web era.) Sheff also dissects parental allegations that Nintendo games hynotize kids by releasing endorphins, and notes that Nintendo wasn't invented to be a babysitter.
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Comment 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Game Over is a terrific account of Nintendo's past, and is must reading for video game enthusiasts and historians. Mr. Sheff had what seemed to be unparalleled access to Nintendo's inner workings, and brought back a fascinating story on a family business made good in the international community. Unfortunately, the book falls for Nintendo's predictions for the future (many of which were designed by Nintendo solely to draw attention away from its rivals rather than to provide insight into their future business plans.) As long as the last parts of the book that attempt to chart the future course for video games and Nintendo are ignored, the book stands as an important work in video game journalism.
I do have a few complaints with the contents and focus of the book; there are the usual small factual errors which may obscure future historical video game research; there are the regurgitations of various industry spokesmen without proper interpretations; and there is the unwavering focus on Nintendo which tends to downplay the parts played by their competitors/rivals in the industry. I have yet to read the updated version of Game Over (Press Start to Continue), and the new version may rectify some or all of these shortcomings. Regardless, Game Over stands as a slightly flawed, but amazingly useful research tool and entertaining book.
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By A Customer on March 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is ONE book that I just can't get out of my mind! This book is a must get for gamers & Nsiders (The Official On-line Nintendo Club)!
Game Over gave a near-perfect insite to Nintendo's beginning of a handfuda card company (Japanese cards), develop into a game / toy company, & eventually entering the Video Game company.
David Sheff did an excellent job in writting this book & does go in depth into things as well as actual translation of the name ("Leave Luck to God" is my favorite).
If the Nsiders is a cult/ religion, this would be our bible!
This is a great book to read, even though there are slight minor flaws & this version only goes up to 1993. It's a must read good & would Highly suggest picking up the revised sequal, "Game Over: Press Start to continue"
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is great for learn how Nintendo influenced gaming and culture before the N64. It also has behind the scenes look at the company, from their humble beginnings to their late 80's dominance of the gaming industry.

I think it should be mandatory reading for any retro gamer. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
Despite the title, that's basically what this book covers. From Nintendo's origins as a tobacco and card company in the late 1800's to the video game superpower that it was in the 80's and early 90's. I guess in that respect, this book is THE RIGHT STUFF of the growth-of-Nintendo books. I had to flick off a star because I had to read a part of this twice. I started reading it, got halfway, then had to quit for some reason. But I did make a point of returning to this fascinating book and finishing it. If you are (or were) a big fan of Nintendo, or are interested in the video game industry, then by all means read this book. Like I say, it's more of a history lesson than an anti-video game book. In fact, the dedication at the beginning is about as anti-video game as this book gets. Personally, I love video games, although I will admit that sometimes they are mindless and get out of hand. But it's the PARENTS' responsibility to teach their kids MORALS, instead of giving them 40 dollars to go do with as they please.
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