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The Ultimate History of Video Games Paperback – 5 Jan 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Prima Life; 1 edition (5 Jan. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761536434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761536437
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 150,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A major triumph."
--"Next Generation Magazine
"If anyone knows game history, it's Steve Kent."
--Dave Theurer, creator of "Tempest, I*Robot, and "Missile Command
"This is the best video game history book I've ever come across."
--John Romero, founder of Ion Storm
"For industry insiders and game players alike, this book is a must-have."
--Mark Turnell, designer for Midway Games and creator of "NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, and "Wrestlemania
"A compelling journey through the evolution of the video games industry."
--Minoru Arakawa, president of Nintendo
"This book is from the horse's mouth. Finally, the game designers speak out in all their wisdom and stupidity."
--Eugene Jarvis, creator of "Defender and "Robotron 2084

"A major triumph."
--"Next Generation Magazine"
"If anyone knows game history, it's Steve Kent."
--Dave Theurer, creator of "Tempest, I*Robot," and "Missile Command"
"This is the best video game history book I've ever come across."
--John Romero, founder of Ion Storm
"For industry insiders and game players alike, this book is a must-have."
--Mark Turnell, designer for Midway Games and creator of "NBA Jam, NFL Blitz," and "Wrestlemania"
"A compelling journey through the evolution of the video games industry."
--Minoru Arakawa, president of Nintendo
"This book is from the horse's mouth. Finally, the game designers speak out in all their wisdom and stupidity."
--Eugene Jarvis, creator of "Defender" and "Robotron 2084"

"A major triumph."
"Next Generation Magazine"
"If anyone knows game history, it's Steve Kent."
Dave Theurer, creator of "Tempest, I*Robot," and "Missile Command"
"This is the best video game history book I've ever come across."
John Romero, founder of Ion Storm
"For industry insiders and game players alike, this book is a must-have."
Mark Turnell, designer for Midway Games and creator of "NBA Jam, NFL Blitz," and "Wrestlemania"
"A compelling journey through the evolution of the video games industry."
Minoru Arakawa, president of Nintendo
"This book is from the horse's mouth. Finally, the game designers speak out in all their wisdom and stupidity."
Eugene Jarvis, creator of "Defender" and "Robotron 2084""

From the Inside Flap

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Finally the videogame industry has a book worthy of its association. While Trigger Happy by Steven Poole is a interesting read in its own right, it is book aimed at trying to distinguish what exactly is at the heart of a computer game.
The Ultimate History of Video Games, however, is just that. An exhaustive biography of how the industry grew from the early seventies with Nolan Bushell and Atari right through to the latest battles between Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, virtually no stone is unturned. Kent's exploration through the twenty five years of the industry reveals so much about the companies and the people who nurtured its growth: the 'work less, think hard' mentality of early Atari, the humble beginnings of Nintendo in the U.S., the moral outrage over such games as Doom and Mortal Kombat and so on. What I didn't realise before reading this book was how self-destructive the industry has been. As you will discover, the number of law suits filed against rival companies over patent issues is phenomenal and Kent highlights a number of these. There is so much crammed into this book that it's difficult to pinpoint a highlight. The entire book is a highlight.
It is a little unfortunate that Kent's book does not focus on the industry within Britain (such as the rise and fall of Clive Sinclair and Wipeout, the game that really launched the PlayStation in the UK). This is not a criticism though, as the author is based in the U.S., but it would have been nice to see a little more of the influence the U.K has had rather than just reading about Rare's exploits during Donkey Kong Country and silicon graphics.
If you are a serious gamer interested in the heritage of videogame industry then this is an absolute must. Despite weighing it at a hefty 600 pages I was gripped throughout.
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Format: Paperback
The actual title of the book would have been "The Ultimate History of U.S. Videogames Industry". The whole text is very U.S. and Japan centered, while Europe is almost absent: Acorn, Rainbow Arts and Infogrames, just to name few, are not even cited, while Sinclair and ZX Spectrum deserve three lines of text on the overall 600 pages.
The point of view is extremely focused on Atari, Nintendo and Sega, while Mattel Intellivision is dismissed in less than three pages.
Many ground-breaking all-time classics are not present at all: Galaga, Moon Patrol, Dig Dug, Tomb Raider, Sid Meier's Civilization, Elite, SimCity, Command & Conquer, Quake...
Interactive Fiction is ignored altogether: even Infocom's "Zork" is nonchalantly bypassed despite its million copies sold.
The book is very well documented on various trials between industry firms, which may or may not interest the reader: but again, this is the history of the industry, not of videogames themselves: for this, you have to definitely look elsewhere.
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Format: Paperback
This is an engaging and well-written account of how the games industry got started and grew to the size it is today (actually it ends at around the Xbox / PS2 era). Don't be fooled by the cartoonish cover this is more of a book for older readers. If you're interested in economics and business deals then you'll find them here, if on the other hand you want more discussion of the actual games then I'd recommend The Video Games Guide. Still there's fun to be had in finding out about how the various companies got one up on each other (often quite ruthlessly), they may be in the business of making games but they certainly aren't playing.
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Format: Paperback
'The Ultimate History of Video Games' offers a great insight into the origins of the video games medium.
With great focus shifted on the early years of the video arcade and home video gaming, this books covers in-depth the emergence of a 'craze that touched our lives and changed the world'.
Covering the time span from the introduction of the mechanical arcades, to the point when Microsoft was about to enter the market with the Xbox, this is an essential read to anyone who vaguely interested in this medium, providing detailed information on the majority of important soft- and hardware developments of the video gaming industry, the effects of video games on culture and factualising less important information such as to whom Mario was named after.
This book is from written from an American standpoint, and as pointed out in other reviews, it is a shame that there was not more detail on either the Japanese or European markets. Also, this book does not include near enough of information on the development of pc gaming (not really surprising given that it is a history of video games, but it would have been nice to see Kent expand a couple of computer related stories). However, these are minor drawbacks in an otherwise well written book, which makes a very entertaining read all the way through (coming from a guy (me) who generally dislikes reading).
In summary, anyone who is either looking to purchase a book on video gaming in general, or requires a vast and detailed pool of information on the birth of the medium and the emergence of a multi-billion industry, should seriously considering purchasing this book. Worth its weight in gold.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has received many great reviews stating it as an excellent read and one that would keep me engrossed for hours. I wanted a book that thoroughly detailed the history of videogames and didn't just skim over it.

This book does that, but it ends in 2001/2, and i bought this in 2013. It laugh when it describes "Microsofts exciting new XBOX console".

But apart from that extremely minor set back. It is a great read!
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