Monday, October 27, 2014

Console Wars

Title: Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation
Author: Blake J Harris
Over the last few years I’ve come to appreciate the video gaming generation I grew up on; late 80’s to late 90’s.  The amazing thing is; I’m not the only one.  Many people who were gamers during those years also appreciate the quality and memories that those games have.  A lot of this renewed enthusiasm in those older games is a result of social media websites such as youtube, blogs, and eBay.  These sites help us relive our past and remind us that it was those classic games that shaped the passions and hobbies we have today.  In recognizing this, I now like to watch and read any material that provides a greater understanding into my gaming past.

A book that provides in-depth insight into the video game industry in the early 90’s is called Console Wars.  This book recalls the battle between Sega and Nintendo to become the best selling console.  It is written in the narrative, meaning past events are told through certain individuals.  While I usually hate narrative perspective because it makes you question what really happened (what was said, what people were thinking), I found that in this book it worked because it made the story much more entertaining.  In a way it combines facts with descriptions of how people felt during past events.

The majority of the narrative is provided by Tom Kalinske who recounts how he managed to topple Nintendo’s dominance in the video game industry.  I found Tom to be smart and admirable in his leadership skills, and in the strategies he chose that led to Sega’s growth and popularity.  While I am a fan of Nintendo, I couldn’t help but cheer for Tom’s efforts along the way.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that because without him we never would have gotten classic games such as the Sonic franchise, an industry self-regulating ratings system (that prevented government intervention), classic game ad’s that gave a voice to children and teens, the recognition that video games weren’t just for kids, and a choice in the games that people could play (mature rated games).

His influence was so great, that even I chose Sega over Nintendo by getting a Genesis in those days.  Unfortunately Sega’s dominance didn’t last very long due to internal disputes between Sega of America and Japan.  Reading about Sega’s rise and fall was interesting because I lived through those years and I felt like I was looking back at home movies, remembering where I was at the time.  Besides just recalling those events, the book also provides greater insight into why certain events happened.  I like this a lot because I learned many things that I would have never known otherwise.  For this reason I highly recommend this book, because it helps us cement another layer into our history of video games by recognizing the people and events that made it great.

Console Wars:

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