5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating read for all who have loved video games
Having been born in 1984, I was open to the video game revolution when Nintendo became a big influence. My life revolved around near worship of Nintendo of America. From buying the systems, games, and gear, I totally immersed myself in the culture of video games. However, I was not aware of the heritage that had preceded my birth and the work and love that had gone...
Published on May 30 2004 by Matthew K. Minerd
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's entertaining, but lackluster at some points, too.
I've always been fascinated with video gaming history. Although I was born in the mid 80's, consoles such as the Atari 2600 have always captured my interest even though they were "outdated" by the time I got into video games. The neat thing about gaming history is that you can tell the story from so many different angles - different companies, different time...
Published on Jun 19 2004 by Rachel C. Eichen
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's entertaining, but lackluster at some points, too.,
This review is from: The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and beyond...the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world (Paperback)I've always been fascinated with video gaming history. Although I was born in the mid 80's, consoles such as the Atari 2600 have always captured my interest even though they were "outdated" by the time I got into video games. The neat thing about gaming history is that you can tell the story from so many different angles - different companies, different time periods, etc. Although I've read many books (and articles) on video games prior to this one, there is still plenty to learn - and there was certainly information in here new to me.
There were many things to enjoy in this book, but there were a few shortcomings. I loved how the book went in-depth on the history of the classic gaming era, but it seemed to go a bit soft when it came to the 8-bit and 16-bit systems. Arcade games are discussed thoroughly in the beginning of the book, but are ignored near the end. Nintendo and Atari have chapters upon chapters of history, but lesser selling systems (such as the Neo*Geo) are restricted to the footnotes. The book also tended to waste too much time discussing court cases. Now, although many of those cases were turning-points for the gaming industry, a few seemed irrelevant (e.g., Donkey Kong vs. King Kong) and were confusing and hard to follow for someone like me without a background in law.
Make no mistake, the first half of this book is excellent. And in the closing paragraph the author says he intended to publish this book in 1995 or 1996. I think, given the little coverage he makes of anything past the mid-90's, his book would have fared better if released earlier. A few chapters (mainly the ones concerning the legal disputes) I could do without. The book also had a bad habit of jumping around in time. It documents the rise and fall of Atari's coin-op division, but then starts over to talk about the rise and fall of the Atari VCS.
Bottom Line: If classic gaming history is your thing, there are better books to be read than this one. But if you want a broader look on video games that encompasses all generations - you may just enjoy this!
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought I had made the wrong choice....,
This review is from: The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and beyond...the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world (Paperback)I thought I had made the wrong choice when I first opened this book until I got halfway through the first chapter... then realized I was engrossed. The history timeline stretches from the birth of video games up until the PS2/Xbox era. All aspects are extremely well researched and defined, from the game company wars to the video games crash of the 80's. Explaining in depth the drink, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle of the software industry giants... this is not a reference book, its a damn good read.
This book would have got 5 stars if the coverage was right up to date, as the Xbox and PS2 are now over 10 years old there is a decade of games history missing. perhaps time for a UHOVG part II to be released!
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete, well written, but where's Europe in all this?,
This review is from: The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and beyond...the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world (Paperback)This book covers over 600 pages of entertainment history, starting at the beginning of the previous century up until the year 2001. It tells about the development of the entertainment business from the early novelty games and the development of the pinball machine, through the invention of the first computer and television games to the rise and fall (and rise again) of the coin-operated video game arcades which eventually lead to the development of game consoles and hand held computer games. Many of the well known and lesser known companies are present: Atari, CapCom, Sega, Nintendo, Namco, Activision, Electronic Arts, Coleco, Commodore, Mattel, Rare, etc.
The book reads as a novel and the story is told by the people who made video gaming history, through interviews held by the author. There are many anecdotes and quotes that really paint the picture of this colorful history, which will coincide with the history of many of this book's readers, making the book that more interesting to read.
There is a small section of 9 pages with black-and-white pictures showing some of the people who played a significant role in video gaming history. Also there are enticing pictures of a "centipede" assembly hall and a storage facility full of "donkey kong" games; cabinets that are now very hard to find in good condition.
Less glamourous but certainly part of history are the chapters about court cases and congressional investigations into violence, and the reactions of the game mannufacturing community.
Towards the end the book is more about the business than the actual games, listing the numbers consoles sold and the amount of money earned by some of the leading companies. This gets boring and while offering insight into the relative successes, it does not hold much historic value.
American and Japanese readers will probably not notice, but Europe is hardly mentioned in this book, leaving readers from this part of the world feeling underappreciated. While Europe played an important part in video gaming history, especially when America's video game business was failing, almost of none of this information is contained in this book. Even events, like the following, that played a major role aren't even hinted at:
"By 1980, Magnavox had become a subsidiary of North American Philips (NAP), a Dutch electronics conglomerate. As a result, Philips released the European equivalent of the Odyssey² (the Videopac G7000) under its own company name. The Phillips Videopac G7000 was more successful than its American counterpart. There were many different versions of the system around the world, and one version (the G7200) even had a built-in monitor.
"The G7000 inspired a larger following and enjoyed a longer life span in Europe than the Odyssey² ever had in the U.S. As a result, more games were created for the European market. If anything, the console enjoyed an even greater following when it was released in Brazil, where it was called simply the Odyssey. Brazil was treated to practically the entire release library of both the U.S. and Europe, and received a couple of exclusive titles (Clay Pigeon! and Comando Noturno!) as well.
(quote from www.classicgaming.com, 2004)
The lack of complete information is compensated by a strong focus on Atari and Nintendo. Although these companies obviously played an important part in the history of computer games, it appears to be a slightly skewed representation of the entire playing field.
Apart from that I give the book a big thumbs up for detailing a very important part of history and being so well written.
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating read for all who have loved video games,
Kent begins with the major pinball companies to give you a grounding in the leading companies that would eventually move into the coin-op and then consumer video game businesses. The book chronicals the making of games from a ragtag group of MIT students to Nolan Bushnell's grand experience of Atari and then all the way up to Microsoft proposing X-Box. The major focus of this book is the early years of gaming. Much of the material chronicals the work of the early Coin-op and console manufacturers. This is a very refreshing view of the industry, showing the original roots of the market.
I definitely suggest this book. Kent's light-hearted style is augmented by the thoroughness of his work. This book is brimming with direct quotes from the major players in the gaming industry. If you have had an interest in the work done to make the video game industry as popular as it is, this book is a definite suggestion. Read away!
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but not a great reference,
i found this book especially interesting, since i am at the age where video games are common, but i was never subject to early games, anyuthing before about the SNES. my first video game experience was the N64. so this book really gives me a lot of background info on how current games evolved.
overall, i would reccommend this book, but not for research. i actually wouldn't mind reading it like any other book, from start to finish. it would be worth checking out of your local library, at least.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most interesting books I've ever read,
4.0 out of 5 stars The Semi-Ultimate History of Video Games,
It was extremely interesting reading about the early days of computer gaming, from open source code sharing with Spacewar, which was developed at MIT, to the creation of arcade coin-op gaming post pinball and the rise (and fall) of Atari. The book delves into the histories of the greats, from SEGA to Nintendo, Bally and Williams, and even goes into a bit about the C64, which revolutionized gaming as we know it. Unfortunately, I think the only reason why the C64 was mentioned was because the guy that founded that company eventually bought Atari. Little was mentioned about PC gaming. Infocom... ignored. Origin... almost ignored... Myst and Doom had some highlights, but not much.
That's not to say it wasn't a good read. It was. The use of quotes throughout the book were great and enlightening. I learned a ton. But Kent seems more interested in telling Nintendo's story, and the fact that he pretty much ignored PC gaming only scores this book a 7 on my scale. Ultimate it is not. A shame, too.
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book, takes you WAY back,
Speaking about it with one of my professors, a producer at Xbox, he said that it was an okay book, but is the product of the whole "the victors are the ones who get to write the history books" - in other words, he thinks it is told from a one-sided point of view, the side of the manufacturers who did well.
I think it is a dynamite book regardless.
3.0 out of 5 stars A history of Atari, plus some other stuff,
By contrast, the second half of the book, which mainly covers the rise of Sega, Nintendo and Sony, feels rushed and is far less comprehensive. Many part felt like rewrites of news articles, rehashing history rather than bestowing new insights. I don't want to sound too harsh, because this is a good overview, but this section falls short compared with the high standards set by the Atari history.
I also have a couple format quibbles. Many direct quotes are offset from the main text in bold. This is distracting. Some quotes simply repeat what had just been stated in regular text. I understand the need to back up assertions with quotes, but some of the comments are bland and don't really add anything. Other sections begin with quotes that are only tangentially related to the ensuing text, or were from speakers who don't make further appearances or whose comments are not elaborated on. Another complaint is the use of excerpted passages from contemporary news articles that don't give the source up front but force the reader to look up footnotes in the back. If a passage is important enough to offset from the main text, the reader should be told right away who wrote it and in what publication.
Also, I thought the title was slightly misleading, since this is more a history of the video game *industry* rather than of video games themselves. A subtle distinction perhaps, but while there is background on certain titles, especially from the Atari years, I had expected more on actual games.
Overall, the book is informative and interesting though I believe it falls short of its lofty claim of being an "ultimate" history.
4.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT READ,
So if you are into Video Games, give this book a go.
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The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and beyond...the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the ... by Steven Kent (Paperback - Oct 2 2001)
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