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Smartbomb: The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution

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Overview

Smartbomb takes you into the epicenter of the gaming explosion, where bleeding-edge computer sciene and wild creativity have fused to produce a new medium that is changing not only how we play but also how we communicate and learn, all of it propelled by a mega-billion-dollar industry that is revolutionizing the way we live.

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Editorial Reviews

USA Today
“[Smartbomb] is a book that might have been only an enthralling read about a burgeoning industry, but Chaplin and Ruby have gone one step further and produced something of importance.” —USA Today
Fast Company
“A voyeuristic, enjoyable journey through the bizarre and fiscally fertile subculture of an industry exploding in popularity and relevance. . . . The writing is quick and informative, and the book is a smart read for those who want to learn from the people who keep gamers so entertained.” —Fast Company
Boston Globe
“The entertaining and vivid Smartbomb brings video games to life in all their bewildering, provocative, and disturbing forms.” — The Boston Globe
Publishers Weekly
Freelance journalists (and married couple) Chaplin and Ruby team up for a wide-ranging look at the video-game industry. They dwell extensively on the corporations behind the games, from Nintendo's humble origins as a playing card manufacturer, to the extravagances of today's most popular game designers, who have earned millions by applying their world-class computer programming skills to increasingly complex imaginary worlds for players to explore, both peaceful (The Sims) and violent (Grand Theft Auto). The game players are the other major part of the story, and Ruby's experiences in the gaming community prove especially helpful as his role-playing character becomes intertwined with that of one of his interview subjects in online multiplayer games like Star Wars Galaxies (Ruby writes this portion in the third person and mentions his wife's frustrations with the time he spends online without naming her, underscoring the duo's efforts to make themselves invisible in the story). Much of the reporting takes place at gaming tournaments and industry expos, reinforcing the circuslike atmosphere. A chapter on the U.S. military's interest in using video games as both recruiting and training tools adds some gravity, but overall it's easiest to appreciate this work as a whirlwind subcultural tour. Agent, Daniel Greenberg. (Nov. 4) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This thorough history in eight essay-style chapters begins at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2001 with CliffyB, a 26-year-old who already had nine years of experience in the industry. The story goes back in time to MIT in the late '50s and the development of the first video game. Moving onward to the present, readers meet developers at Nintendo, the creators of Doom, the developers of the Sims series, and players of Massively Multiplayer Online games. By the book's finish, the arrival of video games as the dominant form of contemporary entertainment could not be made clearer than by the embrace of gaming by two behemoths of industry-the U.S. Military and Microsoft. The essays consist of both first-person interviews and well-noted research and give a holistic picture of how the industry developed the way it did. Lots of numbers and facts back up the popularity of video games-for example, it only took a year for PlayStation2 to appear in 10 million homes, a feat that took the telephone 35 years to accomplish. This immensely readable book will have great appeal with gaming teens, but should also be required reading for librarians interested in learning more about gaming and its role in our culture and our teen-focused libraries.-Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A survey of video games, with a look at what happened between Pong and Halo. Journalists Chaplin and Ruby try to go beyond the wicked graphics and big numbers (annual sales of $10 billion in the U.S. alone) to get at the personalities who have created a new entertainment industry that is celebrated and reviled with almost equal amounts of passion. They have a good crop to choose from, since videogame development is fueled by uniquely brainy misfits just like those who spawned the personal computer revolution-only odder. The driving forces behind id Software, the company that created the ultimate first-person shooter game, Doom, John Romero and John Carmack serve as prototypes for the rest of the field's personality types. Romero is the swollen-headed egomaniac, Carmack the nearly inhuman programmer, referred to in hushed and worshipful tones by almost everyone as being "like a machine." Serving as a barometer of the industry's ups and downs while the authors hit one industry gathering after another is the designer of the smash hit Unreal, CliffyB (Clifford Bleszinski): celebratory, paranoid and uneasy in temperament. Standing out as singularly unique is Shigeru Miyamoto, the Japanese master who created Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Zelda and the rest of the fairytale pantheon that drove the Nintendo revolution. More hopeful, innocent and human than most of the antisocial crew collected here (has any other successful business ever collected so many people who operated with so little connection to the rest of society?), Miyamoto seems to be one of the few who can look beyond the framework of move-shoot-kill. The authors' approach is haphazard-their text seems to have been written ininstallments at various conventions and then bandaged together-but the raw material is strong enough to compensate. An informative thumbnail guide to this flickering phenomenon.
From the Publisher
“The entertaining and vivid Smartbomb brings video games to life in all their bewildering, provocative, and disturbing forms.” — The Boston Globe
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565123465
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 11/4/2005
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.69 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Heather Chaplin is a journalist who has written for many major publications, including the New York Times, Fortune, and Salon. She lives in New York City. This is her first book.

Aaron Ruby has written extensively about the videogame industry and has reviewed videogames for Entertainment Weekly. He lives in New York City. This is his first book.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2005

    terrific

    If you care about computer games, you'll love this insightful and investigation of this world of creativity.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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