All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture
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All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  316 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Through the stories of gaming's greatest innovations and most beloved creations, journalist Harold Goldberg captures the creativity, controversy--and passion--behind the videogame's meteoric rise to the top of the pop-culture pantheon.

Over the last fifty years, video games have grown from curiosities to fads to trends to one of the world's most popular forms of mass entert...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Three Rivers Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Warreni
If you have any interest in videogames at all, this book is worth a read. It's not great, but you're bound to run across at least a few anecdotes of which you were previously unaware. This alone may make it worth your while.

Goldberg apparently is not used to operating within the longform story format as he is not really able to construct a cogent overall narrative. Instead the book reads like a series of magazine articles which make only tangential and passing references to one another. It's a p...more
Gwendolyn
I do not yet have the physical book (Amazon estimates the delivery date to be between Tuesday September 11 and Wednesday September 26, 2012) but I have been reading what I can on the Amazon preview and Google Books. I've gotta say, so far I'm disappointed.

The subtitle for this book is "How Fifty Years of Video Games Conquered Pop Culture." Maybe the 'conquer pop culture' part is hidden in the parts that I do not yet have access to, but so far the book is just an overview of the history of video...more
Andy Gavin
This new addition to the field of video game histories is a whirlwind tour of the medium from the 70s blips and blobs to the Facebook games of today, with everything in the middle included. Given theherculeantask of covering 45+ years of gaming history in acompletelyserial fashion would probably result in about 4,000 pages, Goldberg has wisely chosen to snapshotpivotalstories. He seizes on some of the most important games, and even more importantly, the zany cast of creatives who made them.

My pe...more
Melissa
I would give this four stars - it's engaging and a good overview of pop culture history - but I wasn't enamoured of the writing style.

I'm not really a gamer. This is by choice because strategy and sim games are like crack or online gambling to me (not shooters, those aren't very interesting to my brain) - I can't stop once I start. The first time I played Civilization II with my then-boyfriend we were up for 36 hours straight to finally "win" it in some capacity. Rollercoaster Tycoon and SimCity...more
Jason
Not actually that great; it's really a fairly disjointed articles (chapters) about various videogame personalities. Despite the subtitle, there is no thesis or attempt to actually demonstrate that video games have 'conquered pop culture'. I guess by giving us the backstories behind a dozen or two people who designed videogames, the author assumed we would come to that conclusion.

The prose is pretty tiresome too; there are lots of painful analogies that rely on the authors' personal experiences w...more
Jessamyn
Terrible. Harold Goldberg's writing style is reminiscent of a Barnard freshman. It is honestly hard to imagine how someone can take something as interesting and as easily documented (given that the vast majority of the players are still alive) as the history of videogames and still manage to produce a volume that is so trite and difficult to follow. Sometimes it seemed that Goldberg had "edited" out a sentence but then forgotten that others referred to it. Towards the end of the book, his main f...more
Albert
Let's face it, this book was written horribly. However, its value lies not in literary merit.

This is a book that contains many stories: the stories of those who created some of the most important video games and video game companies in history. If you ever wondered about the origins of games like Myst, Phantasmagoria, Tetris, World of Warcraft, The Sims, or maybe even Super Mario himself, you're in luck.

Anyone who's curious about the history of Video Games will appreciate the work put into findi...more
Angie
As a history of video games and the industry goes, this isn't too bad. The author did plenty of research and conducted interviews with many of the subjects he discusses; good on him.

I guess I was thrown off by the subtitle, "How Fifty Years of Video Games Conquered Pop Culture." I was expecting more of an analysis of how pop culture has been influenced by video games and vice versa. Instead it's pretty much a straight-up history of the rise (and fall) of certain influential companies and game de...more
LoudVal
Lacked oomfph. Writing was subpar, no linear progression within the chapters made it difficult and irritating to follow the story. You could tell where he had personal insight was where he wrote best, which isn't saying much. I expect there are better books on this subject out there, and that one day I will read one that will blow this title out the water. Still, enjoyable for what it was – a quick read for the commute to work (aka, not particularly engaging, took my time, never missed my stop).
Roland Bruno
A welcome and expansive history of the industry. Having lived and played through the entirety of the history of video-games, and having read other such titles, this book suffers from "Been there, read that" syndrome. If you have never read a history of video-gaming I would recommend this but if you've already been down this path you can safely bypass. I picked it up based on reading a glowing review which sold me on it and like many similar reviews on the games themselves, it was over-hyped.
Tbueno
It is a good book, but it has some strange topic choices. Ignore the iPhone game industry and write about a specific Xbox live game is a weird choice in my opinion. Also, i believe that writing a book about video-games ignoring companies like Sega is like omitting part of the history.

In the end, I consider this book entertaining. If you love video-games, you'll probably enjoy this book.
Artur Coelho
Suponho que há três tipos de livros sobre esta temática. Os profusamente ilustrados mas de texto liminar, para encher o olho com a espectacularidade dos jogos mais graficamente arrojados, os estudos académicos profundos, e obras destas, entusiastas e generalistas que olham para alguns detalhes da história da tecnologia.

All Your Base Are Belong To Us, cujo titulo é um piscar de olhos a um meme recente, traça uma curta história da indústria dos jogos olhando para um conjunto de casos específicos q...more
Amanda Newhouses
I have book hoarding issues. I bought this book over a year ago, and it's been languishing on my shelf for over a year.* I picked it up to take a break between epic George R. R. Martin tomes, and I'm glad I did! I love games and I'd say I consider myself a gamer, but I'm not as hardcore as a lot of dyed in the wool gamers. I've loved playing video games since my parents bought me a copy of Jumpman back in the day; I still spend an ungodly amount of time in front of a glowing screen.

Even so, I le...more
Jorge Pinto
Hay algo que distingue este libro de otros similares y es que cada capítulo es un ensayo personal sobre un desarrollador específico. Se enfoca en la persona o compañía más representativa de un género y cuenta su historia desde un punto de vista íntimo y aprovechando el tema, también habla de sus competidores y contemporáneos.
Por ejemplo, hay un capítulo sobre Will Wright que cuenta cómo nació SimCity, pero de paso aprovecha para contar sobre las (asquerosas) prácticas empresariales de EA y otro...more
Mark
In this somewhat misleadingly-titled book, All Your Base Are Belong To Us takes readers on a behind the scenes look at the making of several big games that really made an impact on the industry as a whole. From Mario to World of Warcraft, Goldberg portrays intimate accounts on the blood, sweat, and tears it took for some famous developers to realize their dreams and make the products which changed the face of gaming through the years.

It took me a few chapters to get into the format of this book,...more
Keegan
Jun 08, 2012 Keegan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
I grew up with an Atari 400 and all the extensions, including the floppy drive. It was awesome, and I loved playing games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Bounty Bob: Miner 49er, and so on. I loved games, even though I didn't upgrade until my uncle bought my family the Super Nintendo a few years after it's release. I still love games, though I don't own a TV and my computer doesn't run PC games well. I was really, REALLY stoked when I came across Harold Goldberg's All Your Base Are Bel...more
Petra Willemse
This was an interesting overview of the history of video games. Each chapter focuses on a different game and the history of the game's development. The author does fall into some annoying habits, however. Each chapter ends with a sort of 'guess what the next game is' cliffhanger and you don't realize what the next game is until halfway through the next chapter. It's a frustrating and unnecessary technique. Goldberg could easily have named the chapters after the game in question and the reader st...more
Cale
There's a lot of useful and well written information here detailing several eras and companies in the history of games. Unfortunately, the author delivers it in an over-the-top fashion in some places. And the use of cultural references is horrible. To the point that I was rolling my eyes every time the author used a cultural reference; they were in some cases inappropriate, in some cases bad comparisons, and in most cases utterly unnecessary - if you have to explain why the reference applies, it...more
Steven Kent
I am always surprised when I see how the hardcore gaming crowd judges books. Some of the hardcore crowd appreciates new insights. Some seem threatened by authors who present new information. These guys snoop around for some insignificant error and then rave and rave about how those errors ruins the entire book and you shouldn't trust a word the author utters.

Harold Goldberg wrote a good, solid book about the workings of the video game industry. Goldberg, and Goldberg alone, has traveled inside R...more
Jason
A lot of fun. It takes you on a journey of video games from their inception with the creation of Pong (actually no, there was a Space Game that some engineers created at MIT that predates the iconic ping-pong game) all the way to the multi-player and casual gaming recent phenoms. Some reviews had issues with the title, perhaps expecting a discussion about how video games eclipsed other popular forms of entertainment, such as television or film. That is certainly not what this book is. Rather, it...more
Hayley
For anyone interested in a history of video games that manages to be more than a retread of other material, this one is recommended reading.

Each chapter takes a specific game from an era and in doing so presents an evolution of what games were actually doing over the years.

It's value is magnified in that the stories are told via interviews with the creators. This enables us to get a picture of what the developer's intent was, along with reactions of what happened post-release.

If you're a player...more
David Nichols
This is an uneven book, but useful for aging geeks like myself who want to catch up with the latest trends in videogames ("latest" meaning "since I was in college"). Goldberg's first few chapters are marred by a breathless writing style and an over-reliance on cliches and second-person "experiential" digressions, but he largely abandons these irritating devices in the latter half of the book. His account of the origins of such classics as Tetris, Super Mario Brothers, and Sim City, as well as mo...more
Simone
I wanted to like this book and there were some interesting stories about the industry and some of it's major players, but it lacked depth and insight, and references. There were direct quotes, but no indication of interviews or sources. The writing was really, really bad. Just no other way to put it. The book was full of unnecessary similes, a few made me chuckle, but the bulk did not fit and made this a clunky read. I have long been interested in the video games industry and have read some fasc...more
JayLando
I thought this book was an okay read, but I also think to get the most from it you have to have read a bunch of other more interesting and well-written books. "Game Over" being one example.

There was some really interesting history and anecdotal stuff but more it was stuff I knew from other sources and really annoying prose.

I was amused by all the Electronic Arts stuff in the middle of the book, but that comes from having worked there for so long and knowing those people and places mentioned.

To e...more
Henrik Rostoft
Good read, up there with Game Over
Joseph Young
Oct 22, 2013 Joseph Young rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Gamers who like to read
This book is what I wanted to see at the Game On! exhibit at the Ontario Science Center, but didn't see: A brief history of stories that actually tells you how individual games and companies changed the landscape of the video gaming world! Enjoyed it very much. Only the current gen video games were a little bit fuzzy, but that's only because it hasn't yet been determined what will end up in the mainstream consciousness. Would read again.
Matt Falvey
A behind the scenes look on the movers and shakers of the video industry since its beginning many years ago, AYBBTU is a must read for video game afficianados who went to learn more about the roots of their grand obsession. The stories vary from funny to just plain depressing. A fascinating book you can pick up and put down several times. The perfect book to read while reading other books.
Dan
I thought I would really enjoy this book, as I am an avid gamer, and have been for many years now. However, this book was just too dry for me to enjoy it. I would have enjoyed it more if it was more focused on the games themselves, than going into so much detail on the people, how they grew up, what they did before making games, what their hobbies were, ack, just too much!
D.J.
So much promise, and the earlier chapters are really excellent. But a lot of the later content is pretty uneven, and the discussion of video game movies is almost useless. The book doesn't quite live up to it's title, but the earlier video game history provided is so intriguing that I still gave it 4 stars (well, really 3.5 but Goodreads doesn't offer that option).
Peter Derk
Really more about the video game business than video games themselves, but I guess that's how it was advertised if I'd had the smarts to read past the colon in the title.

Most interesting fact: The princess in the Legend of Zelda series was named after Zelda Fitzgerald, novelist and wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was some kind of writer too, I hear...
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Harold Goldberg is the author of ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US: How 50 Years of Video Games Conquered Pop Culture, a narrative history of video games, coming on April 5, 2011 from Random House. It has been excerpted in Vanity Fair and featured on NPR's Morning Edition.

He is the founder of the New York Videogame Critics Circle, a group comprised of New York's finest videogame journalists.

He curren...more
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