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Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle…
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Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation

by Blake J. Harris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I came across this book a while ago and, growing up in a hardcore Nintendo family, I was interested in learning the history behind Sega and Nintendo, especially since I was a kid in the 90s and while I don’t quite remember how Sega became a thing, I remember it being novel to me when one of my friends said they had a Genesis rather than an SNES. It’s been sitting on my to-read list for quite a while and my interest in it was renewed when my husband (who’s way more knowledgeable about video games than even I am, and that’s saying something) decided to read it as one of his summer reads. After not too much cajoling by him, I finally picked it up to read it.

Console Wars is interesting, because while it mostly follows Kalisnke, who was the CEO who got Sega to become a household name, it’s not told in any sort of biography or memoir format and mostly heavily focuses on marketing, the partnerships between the different gaming companies, and the games/systems themselves. So, if you’re not interested in the history of video games or how feats of marketing can completely change a company, this book is very much not for you. I studied marketing at university, so reading the different techniques the companies used to get ahead was fascinating. Also, like I said, I come from a hardcore Nintendo family and grew up playing the NES and SNES (if I remember correctly, actually, my family purchased every single system Nintendo came out with), so it was fun to see things from the “competitor’s” side and also read about how Nintendo responded to what was happening.

Overall, this gives a fairly comprehensive look at how Sega and Nintendo originated and also touches on the history of some well-known video gaming companies like Electronic Arts and Namco. I love that the human element is included and we get to learn about who the people are that drove video game innovation, even while so many were saying that it was bound to die. It was a slow read for me, but I very much enjoyed the steady pacing and the sheer volume of information that this book contained.

Also posted on Purple People Readers. ( )
  sedelia | Mar 9, 2017 |
The second generation of video games happened while I was in college and was relying on my own money to buy consoles and games. With the small brain of college student I was swayed by the marketing and hype on which system to buy and which games to buy. Sega or Nintendo?

Harris tells the story largely through the eyes of Tom Kalinske. Sega, the underdog, transformed its fortunes when it hired this American businessman to run US operations. Kalinske was a former president of Mattel, and was responsible for reviving Barbie and created the He-Man franchise.

It was Kalinske who was in charge of Sega when it rolled out the Genesis system, Sonic the Hedgehog and those commercials that ended with the "Sega" scream.

Mr. Harris presents the novel as more of novelization. He puts forth in the prologue that he has “altered, reconstructed or imagined” the scenes and “re-created” the dialogue. It feels artificial most of the time.

As someone who lived on the consumer side I found it fascinating to find out what was happening on the corporate side. ( )
  dougcornelius | Jul 18, 2016 |
This was a slow starter for me, to the point where after a few chapters I was honestly wondering if I shouldn't just give it up, but at some point I got really hooked and could hardly bear to put it down.

I think part of what made it hard to get into for me is that I was at first wanting to read more about the games and systems themselves, not the guys running the companies. And also, well, this is called Console Wars, but it's not evenly covering both sides. It's very much a book about Sega, and I am and have always been a Nintendo guy.

But once I got over those things, it was really interesting! I was in high school when the battle between Sega and Nintendo was going on, in college when the Playstation came out. This is stuff I have so much nostalgia about. All the time spent reading EGM and Nintendo Power and all those magazines! I must have had subscriptions to or bought off the newsstand about four or five different gaming magazines a month. So to get the dirt on all this behind-the-scenes stuff and look back at everything through that lense is pretty cool.

I wish the book could have gone on to cover the rest of the history of Sega and Nintendo (I mean, who would have ever thought Sega games would end up being on Nintendo systems!), but I understand why it ended where it did, not just because of length (wow, this was already really long), but because this was primarily about the Genesis, and the main "character" in this story was Tom Kalinske, who was president of Sega of America during this time, so it starts when he joined Sega and ends when he left. But by the end of the book I was so into it that I feel like I could have read something two or three times this length, covering everything up to the present! ( )
  kyuuketsukirui | Mar 12, 2016 |
To tell the truth, this book left me cold. Not because it was badly written, far from it, but because as a long-time PC gamer, I regard consoles as toys, and nothing I read in this book did anything to alter that viewpoint. Basically it is the story of How Tom Kalinske took Sega of America from a struggling arcade game company to a giant that briefly toppled Nintendo from its seemingly unassailable position at the top of the home console tree, through a mixture of catchy slogans, edgy advertising and Sonic the Hedgehog, and then saw it all slip away due to intransigence by the Japanese parent company and a dual onslaught from Nintendo and Sony. The book is fast-moving, quirky, strongly oriented to the personalities rather than the technology, all around a good read if like me, you love games and gaming. However, the utter childishness of some of the activities by supposedly grown adults to bring down or denigrate their competitors is not edifying, and you can never really forget that this is basically dealing with children's toys. Unfortunately the book's rather abrupt ending is a minus, its a pity Harris didnt include an epilogue detailing the story since, when Sony and Microsoft have reduced Nintendo itself to a second-rate player in the console industry, which would have put the end of Sega into some sort of perspective. A great read, but it not going to change the opinion I and other hard-core PC gamers hold about consoles. ( )
  drmaf | Oct 6, 2015 |
I shouldn't have liked this book as much as I did. Author Blake Harris takes a pastime I love, video games, and pulls back the production curtain to show this cut-throat capitalistic world of corporations vying for primacy. Dollars and attention are apparently the spoils of war. My whole naive view industry is now soured. And yet, I didn't want to put it down. At least not at first.

Console Wars runs for over 500 pages which seems to be overkill for this particular subject. Its outstretched length is because the author seems to follow every tangent and story thread. For example, "This is when so-and-so entered the picture, and now here's his whole backstory" or "an unrelated, non-video game company did a similar thing, and here's the full rundown of how that turned out." The pace is kept brisk but I wonder if the unified whole suffers in place of extrapolating the individual stories.

Lastly, I feel like Console Wars should have one of those "Based on actual events" disclaimers. I have no idea how the author conducted his research but all the conversations and interactions play out with a movie script-like quality that I'm sure a good dose of artistic license was taken. Honestly, I'm fine with it. It made the book 10x more readable. I just wonder which parts are truer than others. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Sep 17, 2015 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Blake J. Harrisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Goldberg, EvanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rogen, SethForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Katie, the girl with the shiny eyes
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PROLOGUE

In 1987, Tom Kalinkse was at a crossroads.
1.

THE OPPORTUNITY


Tom Kalinske had a secret.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062276697, Hardcover)

Following the success of The Accidental Billionaires and Moneyball comes Console Wars—a mesmerizing, behind-the-scenes business thriller that chronicles how Sega, a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video game industry.

In 1990, Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on the video game industry. Sega, on the other hand, was just a faltering arcade company with big aspirations and even bigger personalities. But that would all change with the arrival of Tom Kalinske, a man who knew nothing about videogames and everything about fighting uphill battles. His unconventional tactics, combined with the blood, sweat and bold ideas of his renegade employees, transformed Sega and eventually led to a ruthless David-and-Goliath showdown with rival Nintendo.

The battle was vicious, relentless, and highly profitable, eventually sparking a global corporate war that would be fought on several fronts: from living rooms and schoolyards to boardrooms and Congress. It was a once-in-a-lifetime, no-holds-barred conflict that pitted brother against brother, kid against adult, Sonic against Mario, and the US against Japan.

Based on over two hundred interviews with former Sega and Nintendo employees, Console Wars is the underdog tale of how Kalinske miraculously turned an industry punchline into a market leader. It’s the story of how a humble family man, with an extraordinary imagination and a gift for turning problems into competitive advantages, inspired a team of underdogs to slay a giant and, as a result, birth a $60 billion dollar industry.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:49 -0400)

"A mesmerizing, behind-the-scenes business thriller that chronicles how Sega, a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the videogame industry -- in development as a feature film from Sony Pictures. In 1990, Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on the videogame industry. Sega, on the other hand, was just a faltering arcade company with big aspirations and even bigger personalities. But all that would change with the arrival of Tom Kalinske, a former Mattel executive who knew nothing about videogames and everything about fighting uphill battles. His unconventional tactics, combined with the blood, sweat, and bold ideas of his renegade employees, completely transformed Sega and led to a ruthless, David-and-Goliath showdown with Nintendo. Little did he realize that Sega's success would create many new enemies and, most important, make Nintendo stronger than ever.The battle was vicious, relentless, and highly profitable, eventually sparking a global corporate war that would be fought on several fronts: from living rooms and school yards to boardrooms and Congress. It was a once-in-a-lifetime, no-holds-barred conflict that pitted brother against brother, kid against adult, Sonic against Mario, and the United States against Japan.Based on more than two hundred interviews with former Sega and Nintendo employees, Console Wars is the tale of how Tom Kalinske miraculously turned an industry punch line into a market leader. Blake J. Harris brings into focus the warriors, the strategies, and the battles and explores how they transformed popular culture forever. Ultimately, Console Wars is the story of how a humble family man, with an extraordinary imagination and a gift for turning problems into competitive advantages, inspired a team of underdogs to slay a giant and, as a result, give birth to a sixty-billion-dollar industry"--… (more)

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