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


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 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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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

3 Responses to The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and beyond…the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world

  1. J. Puckett says:
    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Awesome chronicle of gaming history (at least up until around 1995)., March 4, 2009
    J. Puckett (Kentucky) –

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    While I was never an arcade rat (born in 1981), I can remember playing on an Atari 2800, and the love for console gaming has never ceased. It had been a goal of mine to finally pick up video games history book, and this is the one I chose.

    Before writing this review, I read through a few others to see if anyone shared my views, and they have. Like other readers suggested, the majority of this book is fantastic and detailed. It’s all you want to know about the rise and fall of Atari, and their interwoven relationships with other gaming companies (i.e. Namco, etc) and prominent figures of today (i.e. Steve Jobs, etc). Also detailed is Japan’s introduction into the American arcade market, most specifically Nintendo. No detail is left out. I loved reading about the work atmosphere of early Atari, how they made more money than they knew what to do with in such a short amount of time, and the crucial decisions they made early on to advance the arcade and home video game market. It’s really hard to get a feel on whether Nolan Bushnell was a genius or simply lucky. Also great were the risks that Nintendo made to break into the American market, along with their determined positioning behind the team of Arakawa and Lincoln.

    However, when you get up to around the mid-1990’s, the book falters tremendously based on what came before it. The last decade of video game history up to this book’s publishing isn’t well represented with the behind-the-scenes info that you’ve become used to from early in the book. Like someone else said in their review, it felt rushed, but it also felt as if the author wasn’t anywhere near as well versed about recent happenings in the industry. You’ll realize quickly that when you get to the launch of the original Playstation and Saturn, you’ve only got 2 or 3 chapters to go.

    While I wouldn’t call this the “ultimate” history because of the lack of detail in more recent times, it definitely is the ultimate history of video games from their inception up to the 16-bit era. That’s why I still give it 4 stars, because it’s really good reading for those interested.

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  2. Robert Smith says:
    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Fantastic! A real page turner., July 15, 2002
    Robert Smith (Columbia, MD USA) –

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    This book is awesome! It reads like a novel and I have had a hard time putting it down. This isn’t boring history. It is history that reads like a story. Sprinkled throughout are numerous quotes from everyone who was anyone (even their secretaries).
    Did you know that Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, is also the creator of the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant/arcade!
    This isn’t just who did what when but who stabbed who in the back, stole ideas, who sued who for what. I’ll give you a taste from the book here:
    “Atari also became a notorious Mecca of drug abuse. The Martin Avenue roller-rink facility smelled of marijuana. One ex-employee quipped that “you could get stoned just breathing the air coming out of the building.”
    “…Roger Hector [a new employee] nervously took his place among the regulars. When he went to use the bathroom, he found empty syringes on the bathroom floor.”
    My favorite…
    “The personnel lady came in with a young candidate who had shown up on our doorstep. He was this real scuzzy kid. She said, “What shall we do?” I think I said, “We should either call the cops or talk to him.” So I talked to him.
    The kid was a dropout and really grungy. He was 18 years old and he knew something…. He had a spark of brilliance. Don Lang, one of my engineers, was asking for a tech, so I said, “Great. I’ll give you a job working for a real engineer.”
    The next day Don came to me and said, “What did I do to deserve this?” I said, “You wanted a tech, you got a tech.” He said, “This guy’s filthy. He’s just obnoxious. And he dosen’t know electronics.”
    The kid worked out in the end. His name was Steve Jobs”
    -Al Acorn, former “sort of” vice president of engineering, Atari Corporation
    The only problem I have with the book is the same problem I have with most books that cover graphics. The lack of graphics! There is not a single screen shot of a single video game anywhere. There is a 10 page insert in the center of the book with photo’s of the people behind the stories, which is great! But I think sprinkling some screen shots of the games throughout the book would have been greater. But then, come to think of it, how do you get a screen shot of Pong, 30 years later!
    I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that the author, Steven L. Kent, is from my home town of Bothell, Washington.
    Buy this book!
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  3. David T. Adams says:
    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Fascinating look at the entire video game industry, October 25, 2001
    David T. Adams (Ogdensburg, NY USA) –

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    Anybody over the age of 18 will remember the classic arcade games that raked in billions of dollars in quarters (or later, their video console and home computer translations) – Donkey Kong, Defender, Asteroids, Battlezone, Space Invaders – the list is almost endless. And the companies that produced them were as well known as major league sports teams: Atari, Midway, Williams, Electronic Arts, Commodore, etc.
    This book chronicles the fascinating story of the birth and evolution of the video game industry, from the pre-video arcade games to the modern high res computer games. It’s large, about 600 pages,but it reads more like a fast paced novel than an encyclopedia, and contains just enough information to keep the narration interesting without getting bogged down in minor details.
    As the title indicates, this book covers it all, and it does so with an insider’s perspective, Kent having reconstructed the full story from hundreds of interviews with the major players. It’s also full of interesting insights and anecdotes about the games, their creators, and the founders and movers of the industry. Ever wonder where the strange title Donkey Kong came from? Did you know there was a military training version of Battlezone? Which video game resurrected a dying arcade industry?
    The business, as well as the technical, side of the video game history is covered, with stories about the wheeling and dealing that took place to launch and maintain the companies, and the reasons behind the successes and failures.
    I thought I’d read a little bit of this book at a time, but ended up plowing through it, it was that engrossing.
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