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The Ultimate History of Video Games

The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon - The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World

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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.

608 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2001

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About the author

Steven L. Kent

30 books223 followers
Steven L. Kent is the author of the Rogue Clone series of Military Science Fiction novels as well as 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 Master’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University, he claims that his most important education came from life.

He learned important lessons from working with farm laborers in Idaho. Later, from 1986 through 1988, Kent worked as a telemarketer selling TV Guide and Inc. Magazine. His years on the phone helped him develop an ear for dialog.

In 1987, Kent reviewed the Stephen King novels Misery and The Eyes of the Dragon for the Seattle Times. A diehard Stephen King fan, Kent later admitted that he pitched the reviews to the Times so that he could afford to buy the books.

In 1993, upon returning to Seattle after a five-year absence, Kent pitched a review of “virtual haunted houses” for the Halloween issue of the Seattle Times. He reviewed the games The Seventh Guest, Alone in the Dark, and Legacy. Not only did this review land Kent three free PC games, it started him on a new career path.

By the middle of 1994, when Kent found himself laid off from his job at a PR agency, he became a full-time freelance journalist. He wrote monthly pieces for the Seattle Times along with regular features and reviews for Electronic Games, CDRom Today, ComputerLife, and NautilusCD. In later years, he would write for American Heritage, Parade, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and many other publications. He wrote regular columns for MSNBC, Next Generation, the Japan Times, and the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

In 2000, Kent self-published The First Quarter: A 25-year History of Video Games. That book was later purchased and re-published as The Ultimate History of Video Games by the Prima, Three River Press, and Crown divisions of Random House.

During his career as a games journalist, Kent wrote the entries on video games for Encarta and the Encyclopedia Americana. At the invitation of Senator Joseph Lieberman, Kent has spoken at the annual Report Card on Video Game Violence in Washington D.C.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 235 reviews
Profile Image for Taylor.
298 reviews112 followers
February 2, 2016
This was one of the coolest books I've ever read. Totally nerd-tastic.

The vignettes on how Atari, Nintendo, and computer games all got their start were fascinating. Nolan Bushnell was quite a character - almost like he walked straight out of a work of fiction! I was slightly disappointed that the book didn't cover much on the Pokemon phenomenon, especially since that franchise had such a huge impact on the gaming industry (and on 9-year-old me), but I think the point of it was to focus on the early stages of the industry. This book is a great example of how one offbeat idea can explode into something monumental.

If you like video games, you will likely enjoy this!
Profile Image for Rob.
845 reviews532 followers
September 18, 2016
Executive Summary: Ultimate history this is not. It left me rather disappointed in some regards. That said, there is a lot of great stuff here, and I enjoyed it overall. 3.5 Stars.

Audiobook: Dan Woren does a good job narrating. Nothing spectacular, but then this is non-fiction so I don't really want spectacular. He speaks clearly and with good pacing making audio a good option in my opinion.

Full Review
I've been a gamer for almost as long as I can remember. My first gaming platform was an Apple IIgs in the late 80s. That was replaced by a Nintendo in the early 90's and that was my platform of choice until I got my first PC in the mid 90s. I'd visit an arcade on occasion, but I never really had the money to play a lot of video games, so home gaming has made up most of my experience.

I never played Atari. All of the early days of Atari was brand new and pretty interesting to me. I really liked the stuff about arcade games as well. That said, I felt like the early part of the book focused entirely too much on Atari. This book as a whole is told from an American perspective, so any involvement of Japan mostly is covering the impact of Japanese companies on the US gaming market. I'd have liked more history of Japanese companies than we got. I'd also have liked more detail on the other companies involved in the early days of video games.

My biggest complaint was how little Computer Gaming was covered. Sure the Apple II and Commodore 64 were mention. So was Doom. He made brief mention of how some third party publishers were focusing on Computer Games, but mostly as part of the story of how they were lured to make console games. Blizzard wasn't mentioned at all. Apart from the mention of Doom, id was ignored. Sierra Online, who was a huge part of my childhood barely got mentioned.

My final complaint is this book relied too heavily on quotes. It's hard to say for sure since I did audio, but it felt like half of each chapter was simply quotes of people in the industry. I don't really need quotes. I need the author to interview and research and present a narrative to me. The occasional quote to drive a point is fine.

All that said, I enjoyed this book. I've read a lot of books on early computers and a few things on video games in particular and this book covers a good range of detail from the 1970s until the late 90s.

If you're particularly interested in American Console game video game history, this is a good choice. However it's far from the Ultimate history simply because too many things I feel were important to the rise of video games in not only the United States, but the entire world were badly neglected.
April 1, 2016
Good for some interesting quotes and anecdotes from industry veterans, and maybe as a historical reference on the business side of certain early (US) arcade and console game companies. As an "ultimate history of video games", I found this book to be severely lacking.

While the book does painstakingly detail the business practices of certain industry pioneers down to each sales figure, advertising campaign and exact amounts of consoles manufactured per each holiday season, content on games themselves, the game development process and the emerging of the entire culture surrounding video games was light, to say the least.

Furthermore, the entire world of video games on home computers (which, at least in Europe, was a way bigger phenomenon than consoles for the better part of the 80s and 90s) was glossed over with a few mentions barely the size of a footnote. The book even went to some length in presenting the dawn of IBM PC compatible gaming as some special leap in home computer gaming history, as if the prior generations never even happened.

Add to this some minor but annoying factual errors popping up here and there, and I definitely can't provide an unconditional recommendation. I hope someone will still come along and provide a more balanced and unbiased "ultimate history of video games" for us one day.
Profile Image for Ian.
2 reviews
March 25, 2012
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 sides of the industry. There is nothing terribly bad but in our modern culture of press control, some of these stories would never see the light of day. It makes for an surprisingly gripping tale when you realize a billion-dollar industry was built on amazing tosses of the dice with completely unknown tech and new people emerging to keep pushing the boundries.

All in all, I loved the book and it remains my go-to-guide for events in video game history.
Profile Image for Ignacio.
1,031 reviews198 followers
December 29, 2017
Hacer un libro de estos, con un repaso lo más completo posible al mundo de los videojuegos, supone realizar sacrificios; es imposible abarcarlo todo sin perder legibilidad. Y ahí Steven L. Kent se muestra acertado: en su repaso se centra en el soporte exclusivo para este formato (pinballs, máquinas recreativas, videoconsolas), los diferentes auges y caídas de empresas, la competencia o la controversia despertada por su "violencia". Esto le lleva a pasar pasar más de puntillas sobre el desarrollo de software. No porque no hable de los videojuegos más icónicos, sus programadores y ciertos detalles de su creación (Pong, Breakout, Space Invaders, Pacman, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat...). Sí porque estos fragmentos me temo que están descompensados frente a la obra de los ingenieros y los timoneles de las grandes empresas que permitieron ese desarrollo. Una decisión entendible que me despierta conflictos al dejar de lado un grupo de personas que habrían enriquecido su acercamiento al alumbrar géneros enteros (Sid Meier, Richard Garriott, Peter Molyneux...). Viendo la perspectiva que se da de los hermanos Stamper, centrado en su trabajo en las consolas, es posible que todo se deba a que los programas que desarrollaron corrían sobre un soporte menor (en volumen de ventas) como los ordenadores, que aquí no ha encontrado su lugar (como se pasa de puntillas sobre el juego en internet; quizás el gran agujero de esta historia).

Kent ha planificado muy bien su labor y afronta su relato como divulgador consciente de su labor. Deja que los hechos hablen, evita caer en las disgresiones, consigue que prácticamente todo sea relevante y solapa bien el problema habitual de cómo estructurar la Historia cuando hay hechos coincidentes en diferentes entornos que no están del todo conectados. Ocasionalmente es demasiado pródigo en las citas a las declaraciones de los protagonistas, muchas de las cuales apenas aportan un par de pinceladas nimias a lo que ha contado en el párrafo anterior. Y en la última década se le nota mucho más acelerado; así como en las primeras 350 páginas es pródigo en detalles, en las 150 últimas pasa más de puntillas sobre hechos que antes desarrollaba más. La propia forma de terminar la Historia, precipitada y un tanto chapucera, me hace pensar que entre la extensión que estaba ganando su obra y la fecha de entrega se llevaron un poco por delante la mesura.

Un ensayo irregular, único en España y de lectura imprescindible para los aficionados interesados en descubrir la génesis y evolución del medio en los países de donde deriva la tecnología.
Profile Image for Victor The Reader.
1,243 reviews15 followers
September 30, 2021
The Ultimate History of Video Games, Vol. 1 (My Kindle Review)

I’ve been a video game nut for quite a long time now, and I never get tired of learning about the past, present and future in the world of video games. “Ultimate History” tells us the beginning of it all starting from the 50’s, slowly rising during the mid-70s to into the early 2000s, with many quotes and interviews from iconic names in the industry. We learn of many important events such as Atari being the first video game giant, the Golden Age of arcades, the 1983 video game crash, Nintendo bringing video games back and many other consoles entering the video game wars.

Kent’s book is truly the definite telling of video game history as there’s so such to process in. Video game lovers will get all the history in this book, and plenty of amazement. A (100%/Outstanding)
Profile Image for Eric Mesa.
676 reviews17 followers
May 26, 2018
This is a very comprehensive look at the history of video games going way, way back. I'm familiar with a lot of the main points from having read lots of industry histories. Where this one excels is in going to the smallest of details and talks about a lot of the personalities and more obscure companies involved. So even if you already know a lot about video games history, if you're interested, you'll end up learning things you most likely didn't know. Most importantly it is stuffed with first-hand quotes from interviews and other published material.

If I had to give this book one fault, it's that the details get slimmer as it gets closer to modern times. On the one hand, this makes sense - there are still people under NDA and who don't want to burn bridges. On the other hand it makes less sense - in our current information-rich world a lot of the details are out there. Best way to drive this home is to mention what happened as I neared the edge of this book. I listen to a podcast on the Wondery network called Business Wars. They're currently doing a series called Nintendo vs Sony which started off with the fated CD-ROM system they were supposed to make together. I've known the most general outlines of that story for years now. But Business Wars has revealed lots of new information about the conflict. A few episodes in, the focus shifted to the Sega Saturn vs the Sony Playstation. They mentioned the Sony team breaking open the Saturn to see that they could compete against Sega on price because Sega was achieving their specs via throwing lots and lots of chips at the problem. None of this was mentioned in the book. It could be because the details weren't available when the book came out? The book ends with the Xbox about to come out. But after all the details that the book had up to the 8-bit era, it feels a bit thin at the end.

Oh, and one more thing I remembered as I wrote the next paragraph - it merely glosses over computer gaming. That makes sense in that the computer industry had a LOT more companies and so it's a harder story to tell narratively. Just reading the book about DOOM and Id software or reading the Prince of Persia diaries shows how complex that world was. Perhaps a companion book by Mr. Kent?

Other than that criticism it was a neat examination of how we got to where we did via the four phases: research at universities, pinball and arcade, pre-80s crash consoles, and post-80s crash consoles.
Profile Image for Rachel.
61 reviews11 followers
July 30, 2009
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 certainly information in here new to me.

There were many things to enjoy in this book, but there were a few shortcomings. I loved how the book went in-depth on the history of the classic gaming era, but it seemed to go a bit soft when it came to the 8-bit and 16-bit systems. Arcade games are discussed thoroughly in the beginning of the book, but are ignored near the end. Nintendo and Atari have chapters upon chapters of history, but lesser selling systems (such as the Neo*Geo) are restricted to the footnotes. The book also tended to waste too much time discussing court cases. Now, although many of those cases were turning-points for the gaming industry, a few seemed irrelevant (e.g., Donkey Kong vs. King Kong) and were confusing and hard to follow for someone like me without a background in law.

Make no mistake, the first half of this book is excellent. And in the closing paragraph the author says he intended to publish this book in 1995 or 1996. I think, given the little coverage he makes of anything past the mid-90's, his book would have fared better if released earlier. A few chapters (mainly the ones concerning the legal disputes) I could do without. The book also had a bad habit of jumping around in time. It documents the rise and fall of Atari's coin-op division, but then starts over to talk about the rise and fall of the Atari VCS.

Bottom Line: If classic gaming history is your thing, there are better books to be read than this one. But if you want a broader look on video games that encompasses all generations - you may just enjoy this!
Profile Image for Cheryl Kuhl-paine.
5 reviews11 followers
September 25, 2013
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 major goings-on. Milestones in the industry are used as touchstones to guide the narrative, like the design and/or release of major products, the appearance or disappearance of competitors, and important court cases. The establishment, rise, and fall of certain companies, like Atari, are documented in great detail, as are individual personalities who worked within these companies are also examined. And, of course, plenty of anecdotes, quotes, and numbers are sprinkled throughout the book.

All of this focuses almost exclusively on the U.S. market. Any asides to the Canadian, European, and Japanese markets are made solely for their relevance to the U.S. This was the only part of the book I was truly disappointed in. It certainly stands up as an examination of the U.S. industry, but I would love to read a follow-up from Kent or another author that takes an international view. For that matter, I'd love to read similar books that focus on non-U.S. markets.
9 reviews
December 31, 2017
This book provides a fine overview of the history of the video games business up until about the end of the Dreamcast. The video game BUSINESS. It's all sales figures, stocks, ad campaigns, who ran what company etc etc.

Imagine a book about the history of film: "Titanic was released in 1997 and made over 2 billion dollars at the box office which was even more money than the second Jurassic Park film that same year. Thus Fox (the distributor) ended the year on a high note in the stock markets. The CEO of Fox called the CEO of Paramount to congratulate him on this successful enterprise." I can't imagine a better way to suck the soul right out of a dynamic industry like film or video games.

I was hoping for a greater focus on the creation of individual games, their inspiration, the methods used, stories from development teams about long nights coming up with new ideas and mechanics. Not some fucking Wall Street Journal financial report. Jesus. What little characterization there is is relegated to the business people that run the companies, what suits they wear, what their parties are like, what they talked about in board room meetings. May God have mercy on the person that looks at the wonderment of an industry like this and sees only stocks, sales figures and business hierarchies. God help you Steven Kent, you poor soulless bastard.
Profile Image for Alec.
571 reviews3 followers
July 9, 2022
This book felt like a comprehensive look at a subject I didn't know as much about as I imagined. As with anything that evolves quickly, this book will only become more dated as time passes (by that I mean the cut off date will become increasingly detrimental as games and technology continue to evolve). However, with much of it new to me, I found this book entertaining and educational.

A few caveats about the book... This isn't a book about gamers or even gaming achievements (though some things do appearances) but really about the creators, visionaries, programmers, and executives who helped the world navigate this sea change in home entertainment. Second, you might be surprised at the early history of video games, both at how early they started and how (and where) they began. Lastly, like many books which tackle a broad subject not everything can be addressed or even acknowledged. This is really about video games writ large and not any one company, franchise, or game- so a history of Nintendo would be better if that's where your interests lie.
Profile Image for Jay French.
2,035 reviews74 followers
April 20, 2013
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 early part of the book focused on the beginnings of the industry and the stories were often personal - what a particular person did. There was less of that when covering the late 90s, I think in part because there was plentiful reference material from gaming magazines available to the author. By the end of the book, the personalities were secondary to the competitive production and sales numbers. This wasn't as interesting, but it surely reflects the growth of the industry.
Profile Image for Carolyn Di Leo.
230 reviews5 followers
January 22, 2011
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 book for you. Actually, the author should consider writing an updated version, because, as he mentions, this story really could just go on forever.
Profile Image for Kadazko.
7 reviews1 follower
July 4, 2011
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.
Profile Image for David Lawrance.
6 reviews2 followers
October 23, 2015
A very linear and fact-based retelling of the history of video games, up until the early 2000s. The writing style is simple and clear and the anecdotes are incredible and often hilarious. Would definitely recommend to anyone with even the most fleeting interest in video games and their creators.
173 reviews6 followers
November 1, 2019
This is an excellent, thorough history of video games -- primarily console video games. Very readable (if you're into that) and informative. I won't call these criticisms, because the book is pretty thick as it is and you can't expect everything. But two things to know about Kent's book are: it was published in 2001, so obviously is missing the last nearly two decades of history; and its focus is on CONSOLE gaming, with not much coverage of gaming on personal computers. Giving a good narrative of the birth of video games on academic computers at MIT, the book proceeds to focus on early arcade machines and the first console, the Magnavox Odyssey -- then turns almost exclusively to the home console business after that, up to the point of the introduction of the XBOX, PS2, and Game Cube, bowing out with a mention of Sega discontinuing the Dreamcast.

As an example of the book's many anecdotes about the greats of video gaming, it contains probably the most thorough and objective account of the notorious incident when young Steve Jobs cheated Steve Wozniak out of his share of an Atari bonus for designing Breakout.

I would love to see a book like THIS that focuses on computer gaming instead of console gaming, it would be a great companion for the bookshelf.
Profile Image for Howard.
283 reviews3 followers
March 30, 2022
Delightful book! Great explanations and quotes from the movers & shakers of the pre-2001 state of the gaming industry. I didn't realize Pokemon existed before the year 2000! I know a little about the year the Nintendo Wii hit the streets, and I wanted the book to cover it. however, when I realized that there was only 10 minutes left in the audiobook, I knew it wasn't going to happen. I was one of those people that bought the Commodore Vic-20 for $300 when it first came out, not realizing it would be $79 a year later, however that computer was the best investment I've made. It was fun to hear about all of the stuff that was happening around those times. Phenomenal listen.
Profile Image for Liza.
88 reviews
May 20, 2017
A lot more detail than I really needed to know... I found myself skipping several uninteresting chapters about tiny details. I only wished that I had paid attention to the copyright date of 2001. It only gets as recent as GameCube. Such a downer! Really needs to be updated. Regarding the info I was interested in, it was thorough and fascinating.
October 7, 2022
A lot of content and definitely well researched, it is truly an ultimate history till 6th gen. However, the writing seemed a bit insipid and uninspired at times and one of my gripes was also regarding very low representation of few of the icons of those early generations; Pokemon was one page, Mario and Sonic were just passing remarks.
Profile Image for Emilie.
246 reviews
April 1, 2020
This was one of my favorite books in high school. As an avid gamer and history nut, this was right up my alley. It was far from dry and genuinely gripping at times, oddly enough.
Profile Image for Stoney Murphy.
7 reviews
March 25, 2023
Video Games
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tim.
513 reviews4 followers
December 5, 2020
This is a great book but tends to go down unnecessary rabbit holes at times.
17 reviews2 followers
January 5, 2018
This book wraps up shortly after the launch of the Gamecube and Xbox. There is a lot of time spent on the Atari/Commadore era of games, so many companies I barely remember and products I have mostly only heard of.
Profile Image for Mary.
33 reviews12 followers
January 3, 2013
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 almost wish there was a movie about the fall of Atari and the Rise of Nintendo. They were both tales of failure and success of the human condition. I almost saw Atari and Nintendo like opposing warriors with the weapons of capitalism. Kent manages to weave this tale so well. I really do wish someone would try to tackle it with a movie. Present Bushnell and Yamauchi as foils (as both grew up in far from privileged backgrounds; Bushnell's father wasn't wealthy and Yamauchi's impressionable years were spent in factories during WWII) and see the steps they took and how they went their different ways.

Anyways, random thoughts. What I also found interesting from the book that the idea of video games really was born in a club that envisioned a socialist utopia in which everyone shared. And that is what they did. One person made a game and someone in the same club would pick it up and add to it. It was this culture of sharing that you see still going on in the internet. And it was also in part this culture of sharing (or stealing as some saw it) which almost caused video games to completely disappear from American markets. I also was vastly intrigued with how Americans do business versus the Japanese.

The book is very dry at times, however. I found myself kind of bored over Sega and even playstation. What makes this book intriguing is we have an author who actually did decide to tackle the niche the history of video games and succeeds.
Profile Image for Lisa.
794 reviews17 followers
January 15, 2011
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's. Unfortunately, this book is heavy on the consoles which I lost interest in after the Atari. That being said, my teenager and once teenagers loved consoles. So I have attempted the 8 bit Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Game Cube, Wii, and X Box 360. So I certainly knew most of the games and systems covered in the book.
This is probably a book most people will not read every word of, but can be enjoyed more like a magazine. I did find the story of the risks, rewards, and busts to be very interesting. Some people made a little money, some lost their shirts, and a few made some big money. It is interesting to see what it took to be successful.
1 review
December 30, 2014
A good read for video game enthusiasts.

Chock full of information and history about a very fluid industry. At times, the information can be overwhelming but it is always engaging. Avid gamers who grew up during the early years of the home console market and the golden age of video arcades will find themselves smiling and laughing as they reminiscence.

Readers expecting an in depth review or history regarding Pokemon may be slightly disappointed. Despite Pokemon in the title the author dedicated very little time to the subject.

Readers, without a doubt will walk away from this book with a deeper understanding of the video game industry and various tidbits of humorous and sometimes surprising information.

Bottom line, it's worth your time and money. Especially if you are a gaming enthusiast.
Profile Image for Matthew Ciarvella.
325 reviews20 followers
June 8, 2015
Although it's close to fifteen years old, I consider this book to be an absolute must-read for anyone who fancies him or herself a student of gamer culture and history. It simply provides the sort of big picture look at the history of gaming that other books like "Masters of Doom" scratch at but cannot capture due to their more intimate focus.

Furthermore, although it's a little amusing to read about the upcoming excitement promised by the PS2, GameCube, and Xbox (original), the fact that this book came out in 2001 means it's able to more clearly focus on the history of the 80s and 90s. A more recent book would be hard pressed to include quite so many details given the ever increasing length of time one needs to cover.

What I'd love to see is a second volume covering the most recent decade from this author. That would be a delightful read!
Profile Image for Brian Eshleman.
819 reviews101 followers
October 24, 2015
I wanted the equivalent of How Star Wars Took Over The Known Universe, part biography, part cultural commentary, and part development of what was to become a public phenomenon.

Perhaps that expectation was unreasonable, but this work on video game history fell short on all counts. It had a longer period to cover and more people's lives to touch on, and that showed. The author's task was the equivalent of the American history teacher who must cover 400 years in four months. He touched on a lot of people and concepts, but he wasn't able to capture a compelling scenes or personality quirks. Occasionally, his narrative gets lost in either business or technical jargon.

It was nice to hear video games that were part of one's protracted childhood mentioned in the context of a developing industry, but that was the only buzz this book provided.
Profile Image for Logan.
1,282 reviews34 followers
June 10, 2015
An excellent, excellent book. Kent interviewed lots of people and played games himself so he really captured the joy and feel of the industry. I appreciated that he covered lots of information from the game designers themselves, rather than focusing on company figureheads and CEOs. Interspersed throughout the book are quotations from game designers or key individuals that really made the history seem interesting and accurate.

The history starts with arcade machines, jukeboxes, and moves into the first computer games and home consoles. It doesn't cover computer games as much (more home consoles) but it does a fairly comprehensive overview of console games, including consoles I'd never heard of. I learned a lot and would consider this an excellent complement to David Sheff's "Game Over".
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