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The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon--The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World Paperback – October 2, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
In this rollicking, mammoth history of video games from pinball to Pong to Playstation II Kent, a technology journalist and self-professed video game addict, covers almost every conceivable aspect of the industry, from the technological leaps that made the games possible to the corporate power struggles that won (and lost) billions of dollars. Anecdotes are legion. Readers learn that early Atari, for example, had the corporate climate of a dot-com startup, with rampant drug use and meetings staged in outdoor hot tubs. The original name for Pac-Man turns out to be Puck-Man; its creators changed the name after worrying that vandals in arcades would replace the P with an F. In 1978, there were so many people playing Space Invaders in Japan that the game caused a national coin shortage. Kent meticulously documents the rise of home video games and the console wars of the past decade, when Sega, Nintendo, Sony and others raced to produce the fastest, most powerful game system. Also addressed is the public backlash of the '80s, when video games were thought to distract students from homework, and the '90s, when Doom and other violent games were linked to the massacre at Columbine High School. Along the way, Kent interviews virtually every key player in the industry. At times, Kent's comprehensiveness is exhausting 500-plus pages on video games may be a bit much, even for their most ardent admirers. But most often Kent's infectious enthusiasm is enough to carry the reader along. Equal parts oral history, engineering study, business memoir, game catalogue and Gen-X nostalgia trip, Kent's book is a loving tribute to one of the most dynamic (and profitable) industries in the world today.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From the Inside Flap
Inside the Games You Grew Up with but Never Forgot
With all the whiz, bang, pop, and shimmer of a glowing arcade. "The Ultimate History of Video Games reveals everything you ever wanted to know and more about the unforgettable games that changed the world, the visionaries who made them, and the fanatics who played them. From the arcade to television and from the PC to the handheld device, video games have entraced kids at heart for nearly 30 years. And author and gaming historian Steven L. Kent has been there to record the craze from the very beginning.
This engrossing book tells the incredible tale of how this backroom novelty transformed into a cultural phenomenon. Through meticulous research and personal interviews with hundreds of industry luminaries, you'll read firsthand accounts of how yesterday's games like "Space Invaders, Centipede, and "Pac-Man helped create an arcade culture that defined a generation, and how today's empires like Sony, Nintendo, and Electronic Arts have galvanized a multibillion-dollar industry and a new generation of games. Inside, you'll discover:
-The video game that saved Nintendo from bankruptcy
-The serendipitous story of Pac-Man's design
-The misstep that helped topple Atari's $2 billion-a-year empire
-The coin shortage caused by "Space Invaders
-The fascinating reasons behind the rise, fall, and rebirth of Sega
-And much more!
Entertaining, addictive, and as mesmerizing as the games it chronicles, this book is a must-have for anyone who's ever touched a joystick.
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Top Customer Reviews
However, be warned: It was published in 2001.
I am writing this in May 2016. In 2001 the 6th generation of game consoles had only just been released. The Dreamcast was discontinued in 2001 but the more well-known members of this class; PS2, Gamecube, and the Xbox, were barely released before the end of the year.
The 7th and current 8th generation of game consoles is not contained in this book. If you are looking for history of the recent generations, this is not the book you are looking to buy.
Just be sure you know what you are buying.
The adventure is so vast and interesting by the end you forget how different everything was when the journey started and you are sad to see it end.
The author builds upon each phase by introducing the people who later become the players of the next era. It is very well done. I highly recommend it for anyone longing for video game nostalgia especially if you lived through the birth of video games.
As the title of the book implies, the entire history of the video game industry is looked at. The first half of the book is pretty heavy on Atari. Nolan Bushnell plays a big part in Atari's early success. Many details are included such as Atari's internal affairs and how the budding industry got onto its feet. This led to the so-called golden age of video and arcade games in the early 1980s.
After the North American video game crash in 1983, it would take a company from Japan, Nintendo, to rescue home video gaming. The rise of Nintendo is detailed in the book along with its fierce competition with, and eventual dominance of, Sega. The book ends with the release of three major consoles in the early 2000s: Sony's PlayStation 2, Nintendo's GameCube, and Microsoft's Xbox.
Throughout the book, many individuals who played key parts in video game history are looked at and even interviewed. Many gamers have probably heard of men like Ralph Baer, Nolan Bushnell, and Shigeru Miyamoto, but many others played part not only in designing games but also the executives who ran companies.
Not only are the major points in video game history looked at but also the minor side events that marked the way. Controversy is no stranger to video games and the book looks at the two times the U.S. Senate held hearings on the matter. Companies would sue each other, or at least threaten, for a variety of reasons.
I thought this book was an excellent history of video games for the period of time it covered. Although the previous twelve years are not covered due to when this book was published, the historical information available is invaluable. My only disappointment with the book was that I felt too much coverage was given to Atari and not enough to other companies at the time, such as Coleco. However, the sheer amount of information available more than made up for it. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of video games.
But I don't mean to exclude younger gamers. It is always fascinating to learn the history of something so commonplace in one's culture. The fact that this phenomenon can be traced to MIT in the 50's is mind-blowing.
Kent does a great job interspersing history with quotes from interviews with the main players. I definitely recommend this excellent history of video games.