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The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon: The Story Behind the Craze that Touched Our Lives and Changed the World | [Steven Kent]

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

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 audiobook 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 audiobook is a must-have for anyone who's ever touched a joystick.

©2001 Steven L. Kent (P)2013 Recorded by arrangement with Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

What Members Say

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  •  
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 09-20-13
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 09-20-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Repetitive but interesting"

    This is a well researched book but it could be half as long if he didn't repeat himself so often.

    He presents many nuggets of video game lore. Often he has found the original sources for stories that have become myths. This allows him to tell the myth and the real events that generated the story. This is not the repetition I am complaining about.

    When presenting details of a story his style is like this:

    They started having problems with their chips around this time. "Our engineers said that there was a problem with the chips."--Joe CEO. "I was working as an engineer at that time and we encountered several problems with the chips."--Jim Engineer.

    Each iteration of the information adds nothing to the story and it becomes very frustrating to listen to.

    This appears to be the definitive work on video game history, but the writing makes it difficult to get through.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Orion Burdick Sunnyvale, CA United States 10-06-13
    Orion Burdick Sunnyvale, CA United States 10-06-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Focuses on the industry more than the games"

    I was sucked into this book and listened to it fairly quickly, so it didn't disappoint at all. But it's important for game fans to go in knowing that this is really a book about the game companies and their battles for the market. It does offer many neat tidbits about individual games and their creators, but most of the time is devoted to why each game or console succeeded or failed. It does a good job of explaining why one format or another may have done poorly due to supply issues, game quality, release times, pricing, etc. So it helps give you a sense of why the history turned out the way it did.

    After an initial section on coin-op games, I'd estimate that 35% of the book is devoted to Atari. Considering the generous 22 hour total length of the book, this Atari section could have been a book in itself. I live in Sunnyvale where the company was located, so this was fascinating local history for me. Then it covers the gaming "crash" of 83/84, followed by the later resurgence with Nintendo, Sega and then Sony. Much of this later section gets a bit bogged down by discussions of legal battles between the companies. Also worth noting is that the book was published in 2001 so it barely covers the release of the Ps2, Xbox, and Gamecube.

    At times the author has a tendency to make a statement followed by a quote that repeats almost the same statement, which made it seem occasionally redundant. He relies heavily on quotes, so this habit rears its head often. His writing style doesn't add a whole lot of color to the story, so it can be a bit dry. I wasn't really left feeling like I was hearing a nostalgic story about a past era, but rather a chronicle of industry history. However, it's an interesting history and a fun topic, so it was still a very enjoyable read.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    teacher parent Houston Tx 01-08-15
    teacher parent Houston Tx 01-08-15 Member Since 2011

    teacher parent

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    "Well written book of the video game industry"

    I listened to this book from start to finish. Well written and narrated. Really interesting read on business and entrepreneurs as well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua 07-17-15
    Joshua 07-17-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Surprisingly awesome!"

    I knew this was going to be a good experience, but it far exceeded my expectations. 20 hours of non-stop information about the beginnings of video games, and crammed full of interviews and quotes from the people who started it all. I'm 26 years old, so most of the events covered in this book were before I was born, but it somehow still made me nostalgic for a generation I didn't get to experience first hand.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-09-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Great"

    The book is great it tells you the History of video games all the way up too the Xbox ps2 era. If you are interested in the history of video games this is a must listen. The reader is very engaging and makes the story very interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua 06-30-15
    Joshua 06-30-15
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    "If you're a gamer, you owe yourself this book"

    This book is a treasure for those of us born in the late 70's and throughout the 80's and grew up playing video games. To learn of the origins of everything from game companies right down to the original reasons for "Easter eggs" is part of our childhood you owe yourself to learn. This book is LONG and WORTH the money AND the time. I hate reading, but I would have read this in a heartbeat. Get it, you won't me sorry.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad O'Hearne Gilbert, AZ USA 06-29-15
    Brad O'Hearne Gilbert, AZ USA 06-29-15 Member Since 2012

    Mobile app developer. Cyclist. Gamer. And I read.

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    "Ultimate for sure!"

    As someone who grew up in the golden age of arcade video games, I was very impressed at the thorough job the author did with his research. I'd recommend this to anyone wanting a comprehensive history of video games and related societal trends. Fantastic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven L. 06-11-15
    Steven L. 06-11-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Listened twice so far...love it!"

    Love hearing the history of the systems and games that I have lived through the the years. Great chance to pull the games out and replay them as you read through. Ends with dreamcast, ps2 and n64. Would love an revision to cover the systems and games since.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-18-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Choc-full of great details!"

    Great details about the early years of the arcade and video game industry. A very interesting read. Wish it was longer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    M Kathleen Thorson 04-30-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Simply fantastic...could not stop listening to it."

    Loved it...great story, narrator was excellent! A sequel would be great so we can know how the industry battles play out post-2000.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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