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What’s up Undertoads? This is Jonathan from Classic Game Room, and I’ve got a special
treat for you today. There have been books on video game history for a while now, but
there’s one book that stands out above the rest as the ultimate resource for video game
industry history. It’s the big book o’ history, The Ultimate History of Video Games,
by Steven Kent! The story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world.
It’s a really cool book, just look at the cover! How can you see that the shelf and
not go “wow, that’s awesome!” The Ultimate History of Video Games is a big
book featuring rather extensive interviews with several prominent figures of the video
game history. Mr. Kent met with guys like Nolan Bushnell from Atari, who later founded
Chuck E. Cheese’s, Mr. Arakwara of Nintendo of America, Al Alcorn, the designer of Pong,
and many other industry leaders and employees of various video game companies. What I like
about this book’s layout is that each of the interviewee’s quotes are presented in
a blockquote format, allowing you to easily skim through the book to find a quote you
like, or find a quote from a certain interviewee. It also makes the book extremely easy and
comfortable to read since the quotes help break up the multitude of information presented
by providing us with a direct source for some of the things talked about.
There’s a lot of personal anecdotes that you wouldn’t read about in other history
books like this, like how Steve Bristow, also of Atari, and his wife carried a hatchet on
their coin-collection route since they couldn’t carry a gun. If I had hundreds of dollars
worth of quarters at any given time, I’d be nervous too, so I can’t really blame
them, but it’s funny to see it quoted in a book like this.
So it’s the ultimate history of video games, but what does this book really focus on? Well,
everything. From Steve Russell’s Spacewar computer game the creation and conceptualization
of the Odyssey, to Al Alcorn’s quick repair of a Home Pong unit for demonstration for
the Sears company, to the initial problems Nintendo had breaking into the crushed video
game market in America, this book really covers it all.
But since this book was published in late 2001, it doesn’t deal with anything past
the beginning of the 6th Generation of video games. Also, this isn’t necessarily a book
about the history of specific games. There’s some stuff on the creation of the first Final
Fantasy game for example, and how Square was facing the possibility of bankruptcy, but
don’t expect a complete and total history on Final Fantasy, or for that matter, many
other games. The creation of Pac-Man is touched on a bit, how the Legend of Zelda had a 1-800
number to call if you needed a hint, some fun stuff like that, but this book mainly
focuses on the video game industry, the difficulties it faced in the early 80s, how games got sold
to retailers who were very skeptical at first, and other things.
And for that, this really is the ultimate resource; a bulky, 600 some page tome that’s
incredibly well written and detailed. There’s even a section on everyone’s favorite countertop
console, the Vectrex! If this book seems up your ally, I encourage
you to check it out! It hardly costs anything anymore to pick up online, and there’s far
more going on inside the book than I talk about in this video, but it’s really worth
checking out if you want a detailed overview of how the history of one of the most profitable,
interesting industries has involved over time. From Arakawa’s money-back offer on unsold
NES units, to the birth of the Xbox, the Ultimate History of Video Games is a book that belongs
in any video game addict’s library.