Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children

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Gradually Americans have become aware that the game is over: The Japanese have already landed. A Trojan horse has been smuggled into one out of every three American living rooms ... by our children. Through its video-game system, Nintendo has dominated a growing industry, projected to be worth $6-$7 billion in the United States in 1993, and has transformed itself into one of the world's most successful and influential corporations. As Nintendo Co. Ltd., ruled by its formidable chairman, Hiroshi Yamauchi, racks up...
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Overview

Gradually Americans have become aware that the game is over: The Japanese have already landed. A Trojan horse has been smuggled into one out of every three American living rooms ... by our children. Through its video-game system, Nintendo has dominated a growing industry, projected to be worth $6-$7 billion in the United States in 1993, and has transformed itself into one of the world's most successful and influential corporations. As Nintendo Co. Ltd., ruled by its formidable chairman, Hiroshi Yamauchi, racks up huge profits, people in the electronics industry are wondering why American companies have such a small market share of this field. In Washington, congressmen, meeting in closed-door sessions (which they follow with self-serving press conferences), have charged that Nintendo alone is responsible for almost 10 percent of our trade deficit with Japan. These are the most obvious results of the Nintendo invasion, but there are more. "Q" ratings, which indicate the popularity of politicians, movie stars, and other public figures, showed that by 1990 the Nintendo mascot, Super Mario, was more familiar to American children than even Mickey Mouse. To some this is an outrage that symbolizes the next phase of this insidious invasion. Japan has already captured American wallets; the country's minds, beginning with those of its children, appear to be next. Fads have come and gone before, but this one is different. Kids are obsessed by video games; they conspire with one another about game strategy, draw pictures of the characters, and compose video-game adventures for their homework. The intensity with which they play and with which they submerge themselves in Nintendo culture is noticeably different from the attention they pay to television. Parents, psychologists, and teachers all worry about the post-television generation of children - the Nintendo generation. The success of the Nintendo invasion, as related by journalist David Sheff after two years of research

More American children recognize Super Mario, the hero of one of Nintendo's video games, than Mickey Mouse. The Japanese company has come to earn more money than the big three computer giants or all Hollywood movie studios combined. Now Sheff tells of the Nintendo invasion--a tale of innovation and cutthroat tactics.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite its title, this overlong book is a generally admiring look at the operation and history of Nintendo, Japan's most successful company and the maker of that country's most lucrative cultural export. Given broad access to the videogame company's executives, Sheff ( The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono ) examines Nintendo's humble origins and growth. He recounts its gutsy entry into the U.S. market, its bruising tactics against competitors, its marketing brilliance and the controversy over its recent purchase of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Unfortunately, Sheff's chronicle is choppy, overwhelmed by an excess of superfluous details and scene-setting, and weakened by his attempt to incorporate other computer-industry stories, such as that of the fall of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, into the narrative. Illustrations not seen by PW. Author tour. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Using extensive interviews with Nintendo executives in Japan, America, and Europe, Sheff, a magazine reporter, gives a narrative account of the swift rise of the Japanese company from the early Eighties to the present. This well-written book examines what has made this company--which has $4.7 billion in annual sales in America alone--so successful and pervasive. It loads 16 chapters with sales totals, market shares, and sweeping comparisons with IBM, Apple, and Disney in an attempt to get inside the workings of this relentlessly competitive high-tech business. In nonacademic and nontechnical language, this book does a good job of exploring Nintendo's planning, R & D and engineering, product development, market penetration and development, Japanese business methods, software development, arrival in America and legal issues, business with the Russians, worldwide competition, and plans for staking out the future. Filled with absorbing human anecdotes, this refreshing work is recommended not only for specialized business readers but for anyone curious to learn about the flourishing Nintendo organization. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/92.-- Joseph W. Leonard, Miami Univ., Oxford, Ohio
Mary Carroll
From serene Kyoto gardens to robotics-driven factory floors outside Seattle to neon-lit video arcades around the world, "Game Over" traces the remarkable history of Nintendo Company, Ltd. (NCL) and its international subsidiaries. Sheff interviewed key players at Nintendo, its licensees, its distributors, and its competitors; this spadework gives his portraits of Nintendo people--NCL's Hiroshi Yamauchi, his son-in-law Minoru Arakawa, who heads Nintendo of America (NOA), and several dozen hardware and software designers and legal and marketing executives--and their Japanese and American competitors unusual credibility. But believable characters are not "Game Over"'s only advance on the standard business history: Sheff brings to life such disparate activities as developing a smash video game, building a distribution network, establishing dominant market position, and fighting legal and public relations battles with competitors, Congress, and the Federal Trade Commission (not to mention buying a baseball team). Nintendo game systems in a third of American households position the company to move aggressively into multimedia and networks in the coming decade; Sheff's fascinating tale of how that happened belongs in most business collections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679404699
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/27/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 445

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2000

    The best video game history book ever.

    I've read many books dealing with the subject of video games. This book blows them all away. Mr. Sheff really did his research with this book and it shows. If you can get your hands on a copy of this book, do so. It's well worth it!

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