The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and beyond...the story behind the craze that touched our li ves and changed the world
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The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and beyond...the story behind the craze that touched our li ves and changed the world

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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  874 ratings  ·  92 reviews
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 ha...more
ebook, 624 pages
Published June 16th 2010 by Three Rivers Press (first published October 1st 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,932)
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Ian
An oddly compelling book that really does set out to be the ultimate history of video games, covering their rise from time-wasters on the most basic college computers to the industry we know today. Kent presents the events in the book from a removed perspective, not judging any one company and simply laying out the events as they are known to have happened.

The reason this is important is because this is one of the few books I've read on the industry that isn't afraid to tell some of the darker s...more
Rachel
I've always been fascinated with video gaming history. Although I was born in the mid 80's, consoles such as the Atari 2600 have always captured my interest even though they were "outdated" by the time I got into video games. The neat thing about gaming history is that you can tell the story from so many different angles - different companies, different time periods, etc. Although I've read many books (and articles) on video games prior to this one, there is still plenty to learn - and there was...more
Kadazko
Buena combinación entre narración de los hechos y entrevistas de las personas que fueron involucradas en los mismos.

Desde el inicio de la industria de los videojuegos hasta la fecha solo 1 cosa ha salvado mas de 1 vez a las compañías y a la industria "Innovación".

Es lo que hace falta ahora y lo que mantendrá viva la industria.
Scott
Absolutely fantastic book about, big surprise the history of video games that starts with playing cards and ends with the death of the Sega Dreamcast. Steven Kent succeeds in making a highly accessible and informative story keeping a healthy sense of humor along the way.

It would have been so easy, so very very easy, to write an esoteric history of video games. I'm a fan of games myself, but their seems to be this strange elitism about the gaming community that writers have. Gaming magazines and...more
Lisa
Jan 14, 2011 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: old video game fans
Shelves: nonfiction
Maybe a 3.5.
This book contains a chronological history of video games starting with the Atari. The book was published in 2001, so it ends with the original X Box. The history is filled with easily identified quotes and interesting/funny stories from the big players--the best part of the book to me. I also enjoyed reading about the games that I remembered.
As a young adult I owned the first Atari, and bought several of the games. Later I owned a Commodore 64, an Apple IIe, and then a series of PC...more
Mary
This book intrigued me and I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I know some people must think "corporate history? how exciting can it be?" The answer: Very.

Kent does a great job discussing the personalities associated with the major video game companies throughout history. I felt Nolan Bushnell's ADHD personality which probably contributed to his success and downfall in the industry. I also felt I could understand the "imperial CEO" style of Hiroshi Yamauchi from Nintendo. I...more
Jeffrey
The first part of this book is nerd heaven - it presents a well-researched and fascinating story of the technological challenges and oversized personalities that drove the wild early years of video games. But once it gets into the 1980s, it starts to lose steam as it becomes more about the business side of the video game industry than about the games themselves. It does this well, but it gets uneven - certain companies and individuals get a lot more attention in the book than others, clearly bec...more
Carolyn
I loved the personal stories of the creators and games. I most certainly remembered most of these games and that pleased me quite a bit. It is fun to reminisce about games your kids never knew existed. My kids find it fascinating when I tell them of taking my allowance in quarters and hanging out all day in the arcade. (sigh...wonderful, misspent youth.)
Yet...I wasn't all that interested in the many, well-researched details. Guess I'm not that much of a computer nerd, but if you are, this is the...more
Will
A nice look at an industry I love dearly

this is a book I ended up buying twice without finishing. it was never difficult to get through the Atari portion. There were so many interesting things going on behind the scenes as the company made video games what they are.

You can argue that the brown box, tennis for two, or space war came first; but it can't be denied that Atari did amazing things for the medium.

Reading about how Steve Jobs was a filthy guy who screwed over Woz really makes you take a...more
rtxlib
An interesting look at the development of the video game industry. The book is well documented with direct quotes from insiders throughout. I preferred the first half of the book mainly because I stopped playing video games in the early 90's. Beyond that I just think the founding of nascent industries more interesting than the story of how established industries grow larger and larger. Anyway it was a good book. . .
Jason Howell
I was engrossed completely when I read this behemoth of a book. I could not put it down and looked forward to every chance I had to re-discover the awesomeness and wonder of old school gaming. I plan on re-reading it again someday cause it's been quite a while since I read it and I think of it often. Totally enjoyable and fun.
Koen Crolla
This isn't a history of video games, much less the ultimate one—it's not even really a history of the American video game industry.

The first half of the book deals with Atari during the '70s and early '80s, and is told almost entirely through interviews with the main people involved in the company. The problem with that is that every major player at Atari is a pathological liar, a sleazy narcissist, or both. Unsurprisingly, the story Kent tells doesn't particularly match reality all that closely...more
Dorian Jackson
Steven Kent is my hero!
Robert Kiehn
Good book about the history of Video Games and it covers the beginning of
the creation of electronic games starting in the 1930's from pinball and
gambling machines (NY banned pinball until the 1980's as it was considered
a form of gambling)then going from post World War II America to the 1950's
and 1960's when the first video game was made. It also covers the rise of
Atari in the 1970's until present and all of the other major (and a few
minor) video game companies such as Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Micr...more
Oliver Bateman
Kent's book provides a solid history of the rise of video games, but everything in it after the release of the Nintendo 64 seems rushed. The coverage of legal battles in the 80s and 90s was quite good from a technical perspective, but in other sections--such as the Lieberman and Brownback committees on video game violence--too much of the "history" is taken from easily accessed primary sources (in those cases, senate transcripts). Kent admits that the end of the book was rushed (he had hoped to...more
Sean O'Hara
Well this book was a major disappointment. You pick up something called the "Ultimate History of Video Games," you expect it to be comprehensive, but this is anything but. The focus is squarely on arcade and console games, with computer games getting very little mention -- Commodore comes up a bit, and Doom and Myst get covered, but there's no mention of Sid Meier, Will Wright, or Infocom.

And on top of that, the book isn't very well written. The organization is almost non-existent. One chapter e...more
Chris
After a cringe-worthy prologue of nerd self-hating, The Ultimate History of Video Games does a fantastic job of talking about the beginnings of pinball, the birth of the traditional arcade game, the various pong machines, and the Atari 2600 phase of videogame history. There are plenty of direct quotes from the people that defined the era with a lot of insight into some of the drama that occurred which helped shape the industry far earlier than many readers have even been born. For the Atari year...more
Sebastien
Ça fait déjà un petit boute que j'ai fini de lire ce livre, mais ce matin j'ai décidé d'en faire la critique en l'honneur de ce Black Friday (ou vendredi fou pour ceux qui veulent le dire en français) car je dois le dire ce livre est le cadeau parfait pour un gamer ou une fan d'histoire en générale.

C'est à la suite d'une visite au musée de la civilisation où une exposition sur les jeux vidéo m'a attiré par curiosité et surtout car les jeux vidéo représentent un grande partie de mon enfance. Ayan...more
Cheryl Kuhl-paine
Sep 25, 2013 Cheryl Kuhl-paine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: video game enthusiasts
This is an excellent book but it's far from an "ultimate history" of video games. It was never intended to be such: the "Ultimate" title is the publisher's choice, while Kent's original title was "The First Quarter: A 25-year History of Video Games". As the original title should indicate, the book focuses very heavily on industry side of things. It also starts its history with the coin-operated businesses of pinball and arcade machines.

The book roughly goes through a chronological account of maj...more
Todd
A tale of two halves: the first half (or really about two thirds) is a well organized, fascinating story about the beginnings of the video game industry and the folks who made it happen.

The last part is a jumbled mess of hastily written and seemingly unedited recent history, post-Sega Genesis. The author mentions new companies and people as if they're old hat and in a following chapter brings them up as if they're brand new. The narrative becomes disjointed and confusing.
Jay
Apr 20, 2013 Jay rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jay by: GoodReads recommendation
Shelves: business, media
Pretty good history of video games through 2000. The book is organized partly chronologically and partly topically. There are also sections of direct quotes, often followed by text saying roughly the same thing. This organization lends itself to repetitiveness - the book could have been a bit shorter. I enjoyed the combination of business history and product history. The major games along the way were described, so if you happened to have forgotten one, the description jogged the memory. The ear...more
Eric withCheese Ashley
Pretty thorough and fascinating book about the early days of video games. The book covers the rise and fall of Atari, the great industry collapse, and eventual resurrection thanks to Nintendo.

The book is just over ten years old, so it ends with Sega and the last days of the Dreamcast. But make no mistake, there is a lot of information up until then. Highly recommended.
Gabriel
"Problems [of the (then) newest generation of games] were partially caused by the huge amount of additional power PlayStation 2 offered, giving game designers too many options at once. 'In a sense, there are no hardware limitations now and there is a large learning curve for programmers'(Keiji Inafune, a designer for Capcom)." This history is a map of that curve, beginning with the uncredited designers who did everything on their games to the teams that you see scrolling endlessly across your sc...more
Àlex Sánchez
Interesante libro sobre la historia del videojuego donde las anécdotas y la parte más técnica es la que me ha hecho disfrutar más. Debo reconocer que la segunda mitad del libro ha sido, para mi, más interesante debido a que he vivido esos momentos y reconozco parte de los juegos que hace mención el libro.
La parte más aburrida, los pleitos y temas legales, posiblemente la más fácil de documentar que a mi no me interesa. Aún siendo un muy buen libro tengo la sensación que ha dejado muchas cosas p...more
Rich
This book really should be titled "The Ultimate History of Video Games: 250+ Pages Dedicated to Atari and Then Everything Else".

I found this to be a fascinating read, but a bit unbalanced. I would have liked to see more detail paid to the 90s, 2000s, indie development, internet era games and such. As my faux title implied - the first 250+ pages focus on the rise of electronic games and then mostly around the misadventures of Atari. While this information is fascinating it feels a bit overkills w...more
Gordon
If you love video games, this is your text. The book explains in great detail the origins of historical and personal favorite games of my own and I'm sure some of yours. The text begins by emphasizing the importance of pin ball machines of the development and creation of video games. From there it begins listing the developers, software, and hardware aspects of the most famous and important video games and video game systems of all time. While educating the reader with the details to those famou...more
Aaron
Interesting collection of sources, but the flow between "eras" is scattered and the coverage of European and other overseas markets (outside of Japan) generally begins and ends with single sentence throwaways vaguely related to the topic at hand. Sales numbers and demographics were fascinating and were used well to make solid conclusions about the various ups and downs of the industry. Interestingly little on the actual successful game designs, though that would understandably be the first casua...more
B. Rule
This book is a pretty good overview of the industry, even though it's obviously dated. It's really more of a history of the business of creating and selling videogames than an account detailing the games themselves. The prose is workmanlike but the author does a pretty good job of evoking the fly by night nature of the beginnings of the industry. Some people might be bored by the attention given to court cases and congressional hearings, but I think it nicely portrays the reception of gaming in...more
Mark Jones
I always try to write reviews and rate things with regard to what they are - and what they set out to achieve; this book offers superb, appropriate detail, and a vast wealth of commentary direct from the people who built the games industry. All I can say is that the title is very much appropriate, and I struggle to imagine how this tale could be told better. I would very much enjoy reading an expanded, updated edition that covers Nintendo's release of the astounding wii console, and the emergenc...more
Rachel
I was really disappointed at first when I got this book from the library and noticed it was published more than 10 years ago, then I remembered that the stuff I'm interested in ended around 1990. No more disappointment. I really enjoyed the history of the beginnings of the coin-op industry and the early games. The book has a LOT of quotes from CEOs, developers etc. so you get loads of first-hand info. Some of it could have been edited out, I'm not sure how many accounts I need of how much the At...more
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Steven L. Kent is the author of four Military Science Fiction novels and The Ultimate History of Video Games.

Born in California and raised in Hawaii, Kent served as a missionary for the LDS Church between the years of 1979 and 1981. During that time, he worked as a Spanish-speaking missionary serving migrant farm workers in southern Idaho.

While Kent has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and a Mast...more
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“Nintendo, a term meaning “leave luck to heaven.”!” 3 likes
“The flipper bat was quite a breakthrough because it gave the player a true means of exercising and developing skill. You could aim at targets now, rather than in the old days when you popped the ball up and just shook the shit out of the table and hoped that it went in the right hole or hit the right thing. The use of the flipper bat is probably the greatest breakthrough ever in pinball. —Eddie” 0 likes
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