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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.

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  •  
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 09-20-13
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 09-20-13 Member Since 2009
    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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Orion Burdick Sunnyvale, CA United States 10-06-13
    Orion Burdick Sunnyvale, CA United States 10-06-13
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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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rob Warnbro, Australia 11-08-14
    Rob Warnbro, Australia 11-08-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Digital Nostalgia"

    The content drew me in as I am of the age where video games erupted in my youth. It was fascinating to listen to the story of the giants who brought me such joy as a young kid.

    I do not think the book translates well into an audio book (an assumption without reading the written version). The continuous repetition as long quotes are mixed within the story, often only slightly paraphrased to which i could only guess was introductions into new sections?

    The scope of the book was possibly too wide, as elements were often repeated when the author changed point of views.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew ARLINGTON, MA, United States 06-15-14
    Andrew ARLINGTON, MA, United States 06-15-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Seriously in-depth"
    What made the experience of listening to The Ultimate History of Video Games the most enjoyable?

    If Ken Burns ever makes a documentary about the history of video games (which he should, because it's a really interesting story) - he should use this book as his prime source. It's exactly as in-depth, fascinating, and human as Baseball, The Civil War, or any of that stuff.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Nolan Bushnell has always been a fascinating dude, but Donkey Kong's character arc was reminiscent of Ibsen's tragic heroine Hedda Gabler (I am kidding about this.)


    Have you listened to any of Dan Woren’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Nope, but I liked what he did with this.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Losing Gumpei Yokoi (inventor of the Gameboy, designer of "Metroid" and the NES controller, etc.) was tough in real life, and it's tough here too.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    beth and chris 11-25-13

    Beth reads books. She holds them in her hand and she turns the pages and reads the words. I download, plug in, and listen.

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    "love this history"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    not sure when the book should have ended. maybe it should keep going. I really enjoyed the first and second parts but got really bogged down in the court battle stuff of the third. kinda with i could have come out of that feeling good or not gone there at all.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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