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Summary

A hilarious history of the golden period of computer games, from Pong to Playstation, from the creator of Dara O Briain's Go 8 Bit.

It is fair to say Steve McNeil likes video games. When he took his Nintendo Wii on honeymoon (obviously), he played it so much he damaged an eye and had to wear an eye patch. The locals nicknamed him 'the pale pirate'. 

Steve's obsession with video games can be traced back to the golden period from the late '70s to the mid '90s. In this book he delves into these games - from the appallingly bad to the breathtakingly good. He also takes us through the nerdy geniuses who created them, their fierce rivalries and risks often leading to some of the most farcical moments in the history of entertainment.

This is a story of obsession, full of tales of Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Mario, Sonic, 3D Wolf, Lemmings and Worms. It will also answer important questions about the golden age. Questions like: why did Namco feel they had to change the name of Puck Man to Pac Man because they were worried about graffiti when Nintendo were more than happy to bring out Duck Hunt?

Joysticks at the ready. Let's play! 

©2019 Steve McNeil (P)2019 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Excruciating prose

So disappointed. I really like Go 8-Bit and was very much looking forward to this. But I only got 90mins into the audiobook.

Maybe if I found it funny… but every paragraph has a witless, convoluted digression, usually a laboured analogy. It became so infuriating that I had to give up. Imagine a toddler repeatedly snatching away the book you’re trying to read to blow a raspberry in your face: not that funny, even the first time, and gets old very quickly. (That’s my impersonation of the prose, by the way. As is this parentheses—these digressions always drag on and on, as if in the hope that they’ll eventually be funny.)

A good edit could transform this book, but as it is I’m setting it aside. First book I’ve done that with in years. Again, really surprised and disappointed, but it’s just too annoying.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A dozen interesting facts to tell at parties.

The author was commissioned to write a book covering a vast scope and while he covers everything there isn't much depth. The book is like a collection of wikipedia summaries strung together. While I learnt a bit about the history of gaming along with a dozen or so facts that are quite interesting there wasn't enough for me.to recommend this to friends. The narrator/author is also a bit too mate-y which is a stylistic choice but one that rubbed me the wrong way.

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    5 out of 5 stars

A witty historical romp thru the gaming industry!

Awesome listen and made the car drives a joy rather than a slog. Highly recommended, with the author being witty as much as insightful and passionate about what he's talking about 🙂

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A wonderful retelling of gaming history

Simply put, Steve is a fantastic writer and narrator bringing wit and intrigue to this fascinating tale. Only would have been better if Dara had read the intro. 😉

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Fun

Funny and informative for anyone who has even a passing interest in this medium.

Steve McNeil clearly has a passion for this subject and it comes across in his narration.


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Interesting and funny

Well read, interesting and funny. So very nostalgic having grown up with these games but not really knowing the back ground. If you lived through gaming in the late 80’s to mid 2000 you will love this.

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Surprisingly fun!

Surprisingly fun and jokey for a story about video gaming. I would say the golden era is actually too broad for one book, this could have actually been more specific, or multiple books.

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A really in depth look into video game history

Entertainingly written and performed look into the history of games by Steve McNiel.

If you want a fun way to learn about the beginnings of the industry all the way from Pong to the early 3D games, this book is for you.

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me too!

wow! I'm 52 and played arcade games in the early 80s ( somewhere there is a Tempest arcade cabinet with my high score buried in the RAM), programmed a ZX Spectrum with zero skill and have owned consoles from the Mastersystem to the PS4. I retain a grudge about the failure of Sega to survive the hardware wars with Nintendo (great for kids) and Sony (great for the hipsters of the time) and this fantastic book confirmed i was at least partly correct. The whole thing could have been a little flat if it wasn't for the brilliant reading by the author himself - often a red flag when surfing for audiobooks to try - but in this case Steve tells a great story with s lot of detail and spot on humour. this is one I will happily listen to more than once.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Entertaining trip down memory lane

A very in depth history of the video game. I enjoyed although some sections were tough going with possibly too much detail