The Ultimate History of Video Games


My friend Dan got me this book, The Ultimate History of Video Games and I can't put it down!

It's not just some essay on the history of video games, the author, Steven L. Kent, interviewed several hundred people. Every page of the book has quotes from various famous and important people in the industry with the real stories and not just the rumors.

I'm sure many of you know the standard trivia like Space War was the first video game but did you know that Pong was originally by Magnavox not Atari. Did you know that Steve Jobs worked for Atari and was always unclean and smelled bad and no one wanted to work with him or that he was asked reduce the number of chips used to build breakout. Jobs asked his friend Steve Wozniak to help him. Woz did the whole job by himself in 3 days. Jobs did nothing. Jobs got $30K. He paid Woz $500. Woz found out his *friend* had taken advantage of him when someone else at Atari asked him what he, Woz, was going to do with all that money.

There's all kinds of stuff. Namco was started by Masaya Nakamura by putting two used mechanial horse rides on the top of a department store. That Coleco stands for the Connecticut Leather Company, that when Atari got their first big order they were desperate for labor. They hired everybody at the local unemployment center and ended up with people smoking marijuana at work, shooting up in the bathroom and stealing monitors for their drug habits.

The best story so far is how Universal Studios sued Nintendo over Donkey Kong claiming it was a rip−off of King Kong. What Universal forgot was that just a few years ago they were sued by RKO, the makers of the original King Kong and that Universal had proved in court when Univeral made their remake of King Kong that King Kong was public domain. Even funnier, Universal had licensed with Tiger to make a handheld Donkey Kong clone. Nintendo not only won the case about King Kong but they also won the suit against Universal and Tiger over the cloned game.

It's amazing to me just how fresh some of the memories are. It mentions the game Reactor, I can still hum the music to at game and I had not thought about it in years.

I think the best thing about this book though for me is that it brings most of the people down to earth. I happen to be lucky in that I know of many of the people either through reading about them back in the day or a few of them I have actually met. Reading about their beginnings it really brings it down to earth. It's inspiring in that most of them don't seem like *special* people they just seem like normal guys that succeeded.

I highly recommend this book 😊

A few other notes: The books is also one of those lessons in publishing. I've been told it's not sold well and that instead, the book Joystick Nation, which admitedly has a better title, is selling much better although it's not supposed to be nearly as interesting according to friends that have read it and according to reviews on Amazon. It's all about promotion, and style. Joystick Nation has it, the book above does not.

There's couple of another books I bought which are more coffee table books. One is a large soft bound book called Game On. While the books above are pretty much all story, Game On is nearly all pictures. Game On covers from the beginning all the way up to this year including games like Jak & Daxter and Grand Theft Auto 3. But, as it's mostly photos and design there is not much detail. Still the images bring back memories.

The other is a huge 440 page long, inch and half thick hardback called Supercade and is the ultimate coffee table video game book. It's probably 90% images and only covers the old stuff, 1971−1984. If you want to wax nostalgic at just a glance check out this book.

Starfox Adventures
Sly Cooper PS2