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Game over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children Hardcover – May 1993


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (T) (May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679404694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679404699
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 332,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mr P Stanner on 11 Feb. 2004
Format: Hardcover
...Game Over essentially is the definitive profile on Nintendo. Covering a period from its humble beginnings as a Hanafunda playing card manufacturer in the late 19th century, to a point where they've become a multi-billion dollar business and have just announced their collaboration with silicon graphics on the infamous 'project reality' in the autumn of 1993.
With great detail this book covers the various stages of Nintendo, to which the first few chapters are devoted, giving a solid background to the company and the people who ran it. Focusing more on the business side of things rather than technical, in-depth accounts are given on Nintendo’s 'American invasion' and its rise to become a multi-billion dollar company with a stranglehold on the home video gaming market by the late 80's.
Moreover, the book also includes detailed coverage on the various lawsuits against Nintendo from Atari and Tengen, the confusion regarding the Tetris rights and the battle for the 16-bit market with Sega becoming a major player in the United States, to name but a few. The book finishes on the note of Nintendo announcing their ‘project reality’ aka the Nintendo 64, which also makes it very interesting to recapture the hype and hopes for the video games market of that time.
As a book written from a American business standpoint, it is a shame that hardly any games receive a great deal of attention and that neither the European nor the Japanese market are covered in vast detail. Although Sheff does describe some of the technical aspects of Nintendo’s hardware, in particular the NES to some extend, unfortunately it nonetheless is not as extensive as one may wish.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A Solid Primer on Corporate Warfare - despite the title 3 Feb. 2002
By Eric H. Roth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
An alarmist, almost apocalyptic tone compromises this otherwise well-researched primer on the sudden emergence of a Japanese entertainment company in the early 1990s. Super Mario, Nintendo's mascot, became more familiar to American children in 1990 than Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse. Nintendo also dominated the market that holiday season by owning 25 of the top 30 most popular toys sold. American toy companies Hasbro and Mattel were left far, far behind.
Author David Sheff concludes, "Nintendo sailded past stalwart American corporations such as IBM, Disney, and Apple Computer, not only in profitability, but also in impact on American culture." The melodramatic title broadcasts his peculiar premise that there is something very sinister about millions of obsessive American children playing witty and clever video games - if they are designed by a Japanese company for profit. (Do American companies seek a loss?) Written during the mid 1990's when fear of Japan was still strong, Sheff's seems to pander to populist anxieties about new technologies, foreigners, and big international companies in the opening chapters.
Ironically, the majority of Sheff's book undercuts those exaggerated fears of conquering Asians using "ruthless scorched earth" business practices like developing affordable hardware and creative software products. Social scientists and psychologists are extensively quoted praising Nintendo games as more interactive, intellectually demanding, and entertaining than television. (This was written in the pre-internet, pre-web era.) Sheff also dissects parental allegations that Nintendo games hynotize kids by releasing endorphins, and notes that Nintendo wasn't invented to be a babysitter. Sheff suggests, however, that Nintendo might be a better babysetter than commercial television for latch-key kids.
Beneath the sensational promotional title and occasssional Japan-bashing nonsense, Game Over ultimately emerges as a solid examinatin of modern warfare and the rise of a dynamic Japanese entertainment empire. An excellent book for business professionals, Nintendo players, and college students taking economics or media studies.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Excellent handbook on Nintendo's past. 11 Dec. 1999
By Robert Morgan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Game Over is a terrific account of Nintendo's past, and is must reading for video game enthusiasts and historians. Mr. Sheff had what seemed to be unparalleled access to Nintendo's inner workings, and brought back a fascinating story on a family business made good in the international community. Unfortunately, the book falls for Nintendo's predictions for the future (many of which were designed by Nintendo solely to draw attention away from its rivals rather than to provide insight into their future business plans.) As long as the last parts of the book that attempt to chart the future course for video games and Nintendo are ignored, the book stands as an important work in video game journalism.
I do have a few complaints with the contents and focus of the book; there are the usual small factual errors which may obscure future historical video game research; there are the regurgitations of various industry spokesmen without proper interpretations; and there is the unwavering focus on Nintendo which tends to downplay the parts played by their competitors/rivals in the industry. I have yet to read the updated version of Game Over (Press Start to Continue), and the new version may rectify some or all of these shortcomings. Regardless, Game Over stands as a slightly flawed, but amazingly useful research tool and entertaining book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An Nsider Delight 30 Mar. 2000
By "tstodden" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is ONE book that I just can't get out of my mind! This book is a must get for gamers & Nsiders (The Official On-line Nintendo Club)!
Game Over gave a near-perfect insite to Nintendo's beginning of a handfuda card company (Japanese cards), develop into a game / toy company, & eventually entering the Video Game company.
David Sheff did an excellent job in writting this book & does go in depth into things as well as actual translation of the name ("Leave Luck to God" is my favorite).
If the Nsiders is a cult/ religion, this would be our bible!
This is a great book to read, even though there are slight minor flaws & this version only goes up to 1993. It's a must read good & would Highly suggest picking up the revised sequal, "Game Over: Press Start to continue"
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
THE HISTORY OF NINTENDO 29 Mar. 2001
By EMAN NEP - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Despite the title, that's basically what this book covers. From Nintendo's origins as a tobacco and card company in the late 1800's to the video game superpower that it was in the 80's and early 90's. I guess in that respect, this book is THE RIGHT STUFF of the growth-of-Nintendo books. I had to flick off a star because I had to read a part of this twice. I started reading it, got halfway, then had to quit for some reason. But I did make a point of returning to this fascinating book and finishing it. If you are (or were) a big fan of Nintendo, or are interested in the video game industry, then by all means read this book. Like I say, it's more of a history lesson than an anti-video game book. In fact, the dedication at the beginning is about as anti-video game as this book gets. Personally, I love video games, although I will admit that sometimes they are mindless and get out of hand. But it's the PARENTS' responsibility to teach their kids MORALS, instead of giving them 40 dollars to go do with as they please.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Great content, badly written 19 July 2000
By titleistfour - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
For having been written before the rise in popularity of the Internet, Game Over does a good job at looking at what became the most important trends of the 90's. However, from 1992 it's quite dated. The best part of the book details the corporate and legal trickeries that all the video game companies used against each other to win over customers and the industry. There's too much about Tetris though.
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