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Publisher's Summary

Since their arrival in the mid-20th century, video games have become a sprawling, multi-billion dollar business. On an annual basis, the industry is even more profitable than Hollywood. Today’s video games feature stunning, lifelike visuals and complex storylines - but they didn’t start out that way. 

The origin of video games can be traced back to World War II. In the 10 lectures of A History of Video Games, listeners will follow the development of the digital game from its roots in the war room to its proliferation in the 21st-century living room. Taught by journalist, podcast host, and video game historian Jeremy Parish, this lively course will track the tremendous leaps made in computing technology that allowed games to become increasingly sophisticated and the popular trends that pushed the boundaries of technology forward. 

The story of video games is not just about technology. It’s also about popular culture, economics, and globalization. Throughout these lectures, students will learn about the extremely profitable gaming industry, as well as the creative minds and ambitious projects that helped build it - and even encounter a few spectacular failures. Be prepared to: 

  • Witness the precipitous rise and fall of Atari
  • Experience the birth of blockbuster gaming systems like NES and Sega Genesis
  • Learn about the evolution of the console, PC, and portable gaming
  • Explore the creation of iconic game series, such as Mario Bros., Pac-Man, and Pokémon 

From the simple pleasures of Pong to the complex online world of Fortnite, video games have come a long way over the course of seven decades, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Listeners will surely reminisce about their own experience with gaming as they learn more about this exciting industry, phenomenon, and pastime.

©2020 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

What listeners say about A History of Video Games

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Worthwhile but not Earth-Shattering!

This offering in the Great Courses series consists of 10 audio lectures presenting the development of video games since their inception in the 1960’s. The material is well organized, with the first episodes following a chronological approach and the final ones dealing with specific themes.

Clearly, the author is passionate and knowledgeable. His approach however pertains essentially to technical and business aspects. Artistic matters are not covered in any depth, save to say that games went from 2D to 3D over time. Social elements are not developed (Why do video games appeal largely to a male audience? Do they impact their users’ academic or personal lives? Do they encourage or sublimate violence? etc.). Also, the point of view is essentially that of the US, and, though there are references to Japan and Europe, the international spread of video games is not discussed.

Overall, this series may be considered only a fair introduction to the topic.

1 person found this helpful

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a fun yet fast flyover

this book successfully covers the basic history of video games wetting your appetite for more.

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Wrong format

This title would work better as a video essay on YouTube. It’s hard to get into the subject matter when video games are such a visual medium, and this is purely audio.

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Shallow and confused

While the title is ambiguous and the subject matter is potentially interesting, this wasn’t a good presentation of it. It’s more of an extremely brief overview of video game history than anything in depth.

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A nice overview of video game history

I picked this up because I saw it was part of Audible Plus (now available in Canada).

I have already read a bunch of other games of video game history, each focusing on a single company or artist over the industry as a whole. As a result we would hit a subject that was a full chapter or two in one of these other books and be finished in three or four minutes. If I didn’t know the rest of the story or the other side of the story in a few cases I think I would have been disappointed. As it was the mentions were largely to place the overall in context.

For free, it’s good. For an overview, more than fine. For a detailed exploration of video game history with new and surprising facts, no. But I dare say most listeners aren’t going to be looking for that here.

I don’t regret listening to it, but I might dig up my history of Sony for the chapter on Sonic the hedgehog.

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Great, but condensed, look back

I really enjoyed this lecture series on the history of video gaming. The author/narrator does his best to cover most topics but barely glosses over certain genres and platforms, either because of inexperience in those areas or time constraints. Hardcore gaming historians may not find much new here. But for those wanting to learn more, this is an easy recommendation.

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  • Michael G. Matrix
  • 2022-01-31

A fairly shallow and disjointed series of lectures

This reads not like a work of history, but as a collection of anecdotal information written by someone reading through Wikipedia articles.

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  • kixfan
  • 2021-12-27

Great lecture

Very well done history of video games. Just scratches the surface but it does very well on the areas it does hit.

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  • Rusty METAL J
  • 2021-10-03

Great For Gamers.

I like many different game types an video games are no exception. The 1st console we had was the NES. This was an informative look at video games like I have never experienced. Awesome book.

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  • Jeremy
  • 2021-12-09

informative and nostalgic

educational and yet nostalgic in that it was not only a walk down memory lane for my childhood growing up in video games but also filled in mini gaps that I didn't know in the history of the art as well as taught me many interesting trivial facts of the world behind the scenes.

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  • Chad
  • 2021-09-08

Pleasant nostalgia

This was an interesting work, although extremely short. Much of it mentioned the technologies and games I grew up with, but it also went deeper into some history I was not aware of. It's interesting to see the different forces at work over the decades that shaped the modern world of video games. I enjoyed listening to this.

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  • Christian Lawrence
  • 2021-07-04

Very interesting

As someone who enjoys video games, and has been playing them since the old Texas Instrument console back in the 80's, I found this very interesting and educational. I would recommend this to any listener. it's a good piece of history.

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  • Patrick A.
  • 2021-06-05

The pauses.......are maddening.

The information is great.


However, the narrator paused after every sentence for just a bit longer than is necessary.




Everyone once in awhile would be no bit deal, but the breaks between sentences become more and more noticeable as it goes on.




It becomes maddening and makes it impossible to get through.


I'd love the same text but in book form.


As is, I had to stop listening.

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  • Satisfied user
  • 2021-04-27

outstanding!

well put together, great overview spanning six decades. great intro for someone new to classic games evolution to today's

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  • Gilbert M. Stack
  • 2021-03-23

Great Topic

Parish provides a quick, if dry, overview of the development of video games. It will interest anyone who has more than a passing interest in the subject, but I was disappointed that the lectures were not more captivating. I listen to a lot of Great Courses books and this one had a subject matter that I expected to enthrall, yet it never fully captivated my attention.

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  • Patrick McHugh
  • 2021-03-10

Fun easy listen, if this interests you.

I enjoyed this brief history. The amount of time was just right. Even provoked some memories.

1 person found this helpful