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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

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  751 ratings  ·  100 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
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Paperback, 327 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Three Rivers Press (CA) (first published January 1st 2011)
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Warreni
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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Timojhen
Dec 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: not-work
May have been too familiar with the subject matter. Read easily, but didn't offer a whole lot which was new, and beyond the anecdotes on situations which brought things into being it didn't have a lot.

Appreciate the dedication and vigor which early pioneers brought to video games, but some events of recent years (I.e. Minecraft) continue to reinforce for me the notion that we can't accurately predict success. As we enter into the VR era, this may become more and more dated.
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Nicole
Definitely more of a straight history of video games, and not as much of a social sciences book as the title led me to expect. But still a really interesting read! I learned a lot - my favorite was the chapter on Tetris. I hope the author releases a second edition, because I'd love to see more recent video game phenomena like Pokemon Go, Minecraft, Fortnite, and VR included. ...more
Andy Gavin
Oct 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 the herculean task of covering 45+ years of gaming history in a completely serial fashion would probably result in about 4,000 pages, Goldberg has wisely chosen to snapshot pivotal stories. He seizes on some of the most important games, and even more importantly, the zany cast of creatives who made them ...more
Kip
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
My beef with Harold Goldberg's book is not with its content, but rather with its execution. "All Your Base Are Belong to Us" is a perfect title for this interesting essay that takes thematic risks that will have true video game fans shaking their heads. Halo influencing the Grand Theft Auto series? Shadow Complex as the end-all, be-all of the next generation of downloadable gaming? And don't even get me started about the stretches in allusions, meant as love letters to geek culture that ultimate ...more
Jlawrence
Aug 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I've been spoiled by the likes of The Digital Antiqurian, who combines excellent writing with in-depth analysis of the history of computer and video games. So, while All Your Base is filled with interesting ancedotes covering the creation of some seminal games, it was hard not be distracted by the akward, over-projecting (the amount of times he tells "you" how you feel playing a certain game really began to grate) writing, liberally sprinkled with straining, irrelevant pop-culture/gaming-culture ...more
Jason
Apr 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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Albert
Mar 07, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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Allison Ann
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: loaner
Three stars for content, not for writing unfortunately. Interesting read.
Boris
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A fine retrospective of the gaming industry with a lot of witty and fun stories. It has a fantastic insight from an angle of the creators, something you as a gamer are probably not aware of. Great read
Melissa
May 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: techno-brain
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
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Mark
Jul 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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,
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Nicole G.
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
I thought (since I still play lots of older titles) that All Your Base would appeal to my retro sensibilities. As far as the history of this topic, I knew some broad strokes going in, which, admittedly, wasn’t much. However, in his introduction, Harold Goldberg purports to tell the story of landmark instances in the history of video games, as well as why they have affected popular culture so much. He claims the book is for core and casual gamers alike. Did he succeed in reaching both (or either) ...more
Gwendolyn
Sep 04, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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David Kirschner
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
I both liked this book a lot and hated it. I liked it because, overall, the history of the development of video games as a medium is well told. It's a fascinating story, and Goldberg obviously conducted a ton of research and interviews to write this. However, I didn't like it because the writing is painful. He uses the word "nerd" or a variant (nerdy, nerdish, etc.) about three times per page. If you play games, you are a nerd. If you make games, you are a nerd. Nerds like girls and big boobs. I ...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
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Mark
Aug 28, 2015 rated it liked it
This is ok, but there are much much better options out there.

To be clear, this is simply a history with stories from the world of video game design and publishing. There is absolutely nothing in it about the effects of video games on popular culture. The subtitle is entirely misleading.

The prose is filled with metaphors and similes which don't make sense but only seem to be added to make the author seem hip.

There isn't anything new in the text that those who know a little bit about video game hi
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LoudVal
Jun 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
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). ...more
Angie
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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Roland Bruno
Jun 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Tbueno
Nov 01, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
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Chris
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Full of great tidbits of information on the world of video games. If you are a person that is interested in learning more about the people behind some of the greatest games of the madden era, this is the book for you. Learned a lot more about the companies and the people that creat video games.
Mohammed Algarawi
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very comprehensive account of the history of video games. An absolute must read for video games enthusiasts.
Gerwyn
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Which game virtually ensured every subsequent PC came with a CD-Rom? Why do video game-based movies suck so badly? Which horror game's maker's parent company was a Christian broadcaster?

Even if you're not a gamer, like me, there's names in this book that will jump out at you - Myst, Phantasmagoria (which did scare the bejeezus out of me. That cat, man, that cat.), Crash Bandicoot, Warcraft, etc and that's what this book is about - how did these games, going back to Pong and the rise and fall of
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The Gay Optimist (Chris- He/Him)
After reading a few reviews I had fairly low expectations. I bought this book on a whim at a discounted bookstore because it peaked my interest. Only took about a week to read through, and it's definitely chock-full of information. Some of it really hits the mark, and other times barely misses it. It's a great introduction to the history of video games the evolution of its industry. I'd be interested to see an updated version and see how much has changed since this book was published almost a de ...more
Jake
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book on a whim, video game history really intrigues me, and it was really interesting.

I don't think the author makes incredibly compelling arguments for some of the games he chose over other equally prominent ones from similar time period, but this aside it was a fascinating exploration of the early years to 2011 in video gaming.

The book is rather dated now, so there is some significant trends in modern video gaming it misses, but even so I found the birth of Mario and Nintend
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Justine
May 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
A couple of interesting stories, but as the chapters go on they start being more and more opinionated rather than sticking to the facts. The beginning was quite boring too.
I listened to this book on Audible and it was a struggle, partly due to annoying voice of the narrator.

I also read the book right after Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made which was an amazing piece of writing and reporting. Interesting, relevant, sticking to the facts,
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Daniel
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I used to think I knew a lot about video games until I started reading books about video games. Then I realized I know nothing about video games. I liked reading all the profiles of game developers in this book. If I had to list my favorite profiles I would say Trip Hopkins founder of electronic arts because I like playing electronic arts sports video games, and Sam and Dan Houser the founders of Rockstar. I have never played a Rockstar game though. I should start.
When I write a review I worry
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Aaron
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Ever since the 1940s, when a scientist hacked an oscilloscope to mimic the patterns of a bouncing ball, programmers have been using technology to create interactive simulations, leading in an unbroken line from Pong to MMOs. Along the way, our collective fascination with videogames has ebbed and flowed, buffeted by the tides of capitalism, technological breakthroughs and the occasional, random appearance of a creative genius. Harold Goldberg, who has worn various insiders' hats during the last f ...more
Rene Signoret
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Is interesting and relaxing. There are some inaccuracies though.
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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
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