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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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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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Just my kind of book!

I have read many books about the beginning of the computer era and the early video game era. The writing, the near ration, and the overall feel of this book was much like many of my favorite other books in this genre. I felt comfortable with it right away and I just was pulled through the entire timeline.

Just like the earliest computer pioneers, the lives of these video game Inventors make a really compelling story.

There is some repetition between chapters, but that is required to make each story able to stand alone.

This is just the kind of book that I'm usually looking for and I sure found it with this one. I will certainly read it again.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Gio
  • Houston Tx
  • 01-08-15

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Awesome History

This was a wonderful book it brought back so many memories of my childhood. It answered so many of my questions when i was a kid and i learned alot of new things i never knew. This is awesome

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A must read for video game lovers

If you have any live or interest in video games, then this book is a must read. This book was recommended to my by a gaming channel that I watch on YouTube. I'm so glad that I took their advice and bought this book. The journey that video game development took from the 60s until the Playstation2/GameCube consoles is amazing. From accidental genius to copyright infringement to many other legal battles. it's a great journey to dive into and read. I highly recommend this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Sean
  • BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States
  • 09-20-13

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.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Very informative

Took me back to when it all began and kept me going throughout the book. Nice job.

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Interesting

But... I thought it would touch on Pokémon a bit more, and the text is slightly dated now. Nonetheless, interesting.

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I immediately purchased this book on Amazon.

Amazingly detailed history of video games across all platforms, with extra time spent in the early eras of Atari and coin-op. All the quotes from industry leaders scattered throughout the book, adding insight to just about everything that went on really drew me in. I would love for the author to do a follow-up detailing the last 17 years. The narrarator was excellent.