The Ultimate History of Video Games
Author: Steven L. Kent
Publisher: Prima Publishing
I have always enjoyed video games, be it arcade, hand-held, or home gaming systems. And lately, I have been getting more and more into home electronic games. As such, I was very interested when I found this title on Amazon.com for under $14.00 (U.S.)
The Ultimate History of Video Games is an impressive name for any book, and weighing in at 624 pages, you would think that Steven L. Kent has written just that. Without reading very many other books about the history of video games and the companies that create them, I would have to say that for me, this is an accurate statement.
The book, however, ends a little early. Neither the X-BOX nor the Nintendo GameCube had hit the streets when this title was published in September 2001. Unfortunate, as I think the current state of video games is more interesting than the Pokemon craze that this book ends on.
For those wondering just what happened at Atari, this book will tell you. How in the world did Nintendo ever revive video games after the almost-death of the industry after the early 1980Õs? When did SEGA become a big player, and where are they now? How did the Sony PlayStation ever get a foothold in the gaming market, and how did they end up trouncing Nintendo at the beginning of this decade? Who were the people that created all those great games? What is the best selling video game of all time? The Ultimate History of Video Games will tell you.
I would rather have seen this book broken up into multiple books. Ten-year increments to the story would have been nice, which would have given the author more time and space to really delve more into each company and game along the way. While Atari, Activision, Coleco, and other pioneering video game companies are represented well in the story, I would have loved more in-depth coverage. (Besides Atari, which is the entire first two-thirds of this book, but for good reasons.)
All negativity aside, I really enjoyed this book. It was a pleasure to read. Unlike some other history books which cover other industries, and some which cover the video game world as well, this book is filled with human interest stories, not just how many units of the Atari 2600 version of PacMan sold.
Steven L. Kent is a gifted writer who put a lot of time and passion into this book. I think he did a great job, and the only real gripe I have is that the book ended before I wanted it to. With luck, he has plans on reviving newer editions every few years to chart the progress of the industry.
If you are at all curious about the history of video games, you will want this book. DonÕt buy it hoping to find color photos or screen snapshots of Donkey Kong. This book is almost all text, for a very good reason. This is the Ultimate History of Video Games, after all, and 624 pages barely cover it.
Hats off, Mr. Kent. A job well done.
MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5