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Publisher's Summary

A riveting account of the birth and remarkable evolution of the most important development in entertainment since television, Replay is the ultimate history of video games. From its origins in the research labs of the 1940s to the groundbreaking success of the Wii, Replay sheds new light on gaming's past. Along the way it takes in the spectacular rise and fall of Atari, the crazed cottage industry spawned by the computers of Sir Clive Sinclair, Japan's rapid ascent to the top of the gaming tree, and the seismic impact of Doom. Replay tells the sensational story of how the creative vision of game designers across the globe gave rise to one of the world's most popular and dynamic art forms. Based on extensive research and more than 140 interviews, Replay includes insights from video game legends such as Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Will Wright - the creator of The Sims , Doom designer John Romero, and Hironobu Sakaguchi of Final Fantasy fame. Replay also includes a foreword by Richard Garriott (AKA Lord British).

©2010 Tristan Donovan (P)2017 Tantor

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Book

I have quite a few gaming history books in my library but I think they are all Nintendo vs Sega and while the story is interesting it has been told numerous times. Replay on the other hand covers so many different topics (the European computer scene, arcades, etc..) that aren't covered that well elsewhere. The narrator is fantastic, great pacing, he just brought the book to life. I just can't recommend this book enough.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Wonderful and Thorough Companion to Video Games

Focuses on all video games but covers the computer angle more thoroughly. Great narrator.
It's not as thorough on all the game consoles as "The Ultimate History of Video Games" but it branches more into computer games in the U. K. and many parts of Europe and gives a more thorough background into how computer culture influenced second generation consoles and on. Brings video games up to 2012 and the advent of indie games on Steam. "Ultimate History" ends with the death of Sega as a console producer. The two books complement each other nicely.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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This is the history to read.

Most books focus on the hardware and business. This is about that plus the art and the games. Very awesome book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

A fine addition to my game history collection.

It gives me gratification that the area I chose to specialize in during my graduate studies - The history of games and simulations- is now getting serious attention. This book covers some of the same ground as others I have read, but still manages to deliver points and anecdotes missed elsewhere. Lots of direct quotes from game developers and designers, and a good narrative of the rise and fall of game styles and genres. Not sure if this is the performer or the nook text, but there are some errors like "Planescape: Torment" being referred to as "Planetscape" etc. Other than those small errors, I enjoyed this book thoroughly.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Perfect!

Loved it! was able to relive many memories just by listening to the words and the brief but detailed account of so many good (and not so good) games

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

More a comprehensive look at Video Games

I’ve listened to a couple other boos about video games (primarily dealing with Sega and Nintendo). This one looks at the genre with more of a world view and discusses other countries contributions to the history and evolution of gaming. Most of the foreign contributions having to deal with PC gaming development. Narrator was pretty decent. And Scottish. There are no conclusions made at the end regarding the future of gaming or certain countries’ inclusion or exclusion within it. No epilogue; ends abruptly.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Starts GREAT, ends less great

This is a very good book, don't get me wrong. In the beginning, the author clearly states this is less a focus on evolution of video games, rather it is an evolution of developers and their creativity assisted by advances in hardware/technology.

The book goes through each decades form the 50's through 90's focusing on these advances with more in depth on certain individuals, companies, games, and consoles and the WHY. However, the last 1/3 of the book is rather disappointing as the author makes only a couple mentions of newer generations. Yes, I realize the book is from 2009 but still there is little to no mention of the evolution to recent hardware (PS3 and 360). Heck, there is even little mention of how we go from the Playstation 1 to the Playstation 2. The author does a great job of explaining the history of digital games, MMORPGs, horror games, FPS games, Japanese and Korean games, and online games in general. But there really is a shift away from how the book began which is why I dropped to a 4-star rating.

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Engaging look at the history of video games....

This is a fascinating look at electronic games of all types, but focusing on computer games and those played on home game consoles (some authors take video games to mean only console games whereas this book takes the term to be inclusive of computer games and other electronic games). It starts with the usual beats about early experiments such as Tennis for two and Space War and the rise of Atari. However even here it notes a lot of other lesser known coin-op and home console companies in the 1970s from around the world.

As we move into the 1980s the book is careful to examine developments in parts of the world other than the USA and Japan, discussing the scenes in the UK, and European countries such as France and Germany. This gives the book a broader scope than most histories of video games I have read. It also touches on more niche games and movements than most general histories.

There is a vague chronological order (or if you prefer a diachronic approach) to the material presented in the book. However after the initial chapters the chapters take on a more thematic character looking more at a genre of games or the gaming scene in a particular country and time. When looking at a genre of game like first person shooter, the book goes back to the earliest examples and roots of the genre and recounts the history up to some point. This allows a through context to some developments, but also means a certain amount of repetition, although usually the book gives new perspective on the times it discusses. Some gaming adjacent issues are discussed such as the rise of the demo scene around projects cracking copy protection among European computer users or the importance of VR technology in game development.

The book includes excerpts from interviews with various game developers and other important figures in the field. The research for the book included interviews with various game developers such as Richard Garriott (who is sometimes listed as an author although this does not seem to be the case). Although the quotes are often brief they tend to be fairly illustrative of the points the author wants to make.

This book is an engaging and relatively comprehensive look at the history of video games and could make even an expert aware of obscure titles from around the world. It makes you aware of recurrent trends in video game development, new trends, the role of new technology, historical contingencies and different national preferences in video games.

A few notes on the audio book, the narrator pronounces "G.U.I." gee-you-eye which I find odd because I am pronouncing it as gooey, although I can not swear the letter for letter pronunciation is not used by others. More troubling is his insistence on pronouncing "Planescape: Torment" as "PlaneTscape Torment." Also while the author is British the narrator is American which makes his mouthing of Britishisms like petrol where an American would say gasoline ever so slightly jarring. Otherwise the narration is clear and has appropriate affect, presentation etc.

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Goes beyond your expectations in a good way

good narrator
good content
great job of building the history

only negative is that it can jump around a bit chronologically speaking, but does so to separate subjects

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I've heard this story before

much of the content of this book appears to be lifted from other video game books available on Audible. the content is so close to other books I swore as I listen to the book I'd heard this book before. Waste of credits.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Karl
  • 10-16-18

it's pronounced Zed Ex.. not Zee Ex. garrrrrrggghh

zed.. zed.. not zeeeeee.. goodness, you'd think a professional could at least pronounce words correctly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Edward Lowry
  • 01-06-19

If you like retro then you will like this

Overall I enjoyed this, I have many retro consoles so it appeals to my collection :)

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  • K. Rumph
  • 09-07-18

Comprehensive, thoughtful and interesting

Tristan’s book is magisterial: a truly comprehensive study of video games globally from the early 50s to 2010 (with an update/second edition coming?). At least I assume it’s comprehensive as I can’t think of a game, genre, country, issue or theme he misses. Given he covers technology (inc a little on console wars etc), culture, the personalities and company ‘family trees’, genres and social and political aspects, he does a great job of weaving all these into a broadly chronological history. I haven’t seen anything close to this as an industry history. Well read too. Highly recommended for a thorough listen.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-31-18

A brilliant ride through the pixilated past.

This book is wonderful, no hyperbole. It would be easy for a lesser author to get bogged down into technical jargon and industrial buzzwords. Tristan Donovan does not let all that cloud his narrative and alienate his readers. I imagine that even if one knew nothing about video games, they would come away not only with all the pertaining knowledge, but a thrilling story aswell. if like me, you already knew a thing or two about the subject going in. Well then you will come away with some interesting insights and the same very entertaining narrative that a newcomer to the subject would get. so it's basically a win win.

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  • Hedgehog
  • 06-27-18

A divinities history of video games

I really enjoyed this book. It takes you on a journey through the evolution of video games with lots of very interesting facts.

A great book for both gamers and game devs alike and can see this being invaluable to any one studying game development.

I found the narrator really good and kept the pace of enthusiasm throughout the book. I wasn’t bothered by his pronunciation of the letter Z. Some people have commented he is using the American pronunciation, I believe Zee is in fact also the Irish pronunciation.

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  • Metaxas Nicolaides
  • 06-11-18

must listen if you love the history of video games

must listen if you love the history of video games. fascinating and well presented - an enjoyable read for people of all ages.

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  • GS
  • 01-22-18

Great book, a little American

If you could sum up Replay in three words, what would they be?

ZEE EX Spectrum

Any additional comments?

Really enjoyed this fascinating look across the history of video games. Interesting American-centric fairly comprehensive and nicely divided into areas of gaming history. Pity the narrator cant pronounce sinclairs ZED X Spectum properly.. although sadly the UK machines are not covered enough to make this too grating,

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • W T NEWMAN
  • 09-09-17

ZED ZED ZED not zee X Spectrum !

Enjoyed but the narrators saying Zee X Spectrum and Zee X 81 just annoyed me. He pronounces other names fine but why not ZED ?

4 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Angelo Valdivia
  • 08-25-17

A more global take on video games history

Video games have a strong history in Japan and the US, particularly with hardware. But Europe was also significant with their impact, and what drives hardware is always the software. This book does well to tell many of the stories other books haven't.