Blake J. Harris’ novel Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation is a fascinating read that brings the audience behind the scenes of the 90’s home gaming industry from a business point of view. The book captures the Nintendo vs. Sega battle royale from the viewpoint of Tom Kalinske – the brand new president of Sega of America and the company’s attempt to challenge Nintendo’s reign on gaming. It’s an interesting point of view as normally “History is written by the victor.” Harris also does a good job of adding a simple narrative, making this an enjoyable read.
Before you start thinking “Oh great, a history lesson,” allow me to point out that this story plays out like a movie. It’s historical fiction, meaning that the accounts are real but the dialogue is a reenactment that shows each characters’ personality and aids in the creation of an actual story. The back of the book does a great job of setting the scene:
“In 1990, Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on the video game industry. Sega, on the other hand, was just a faltering company with big aspirations and even bigger personalities. But all that would change with the arrival of Tom Kalinske, a man who knew nothing about video games 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.” – Console Wars Synopsis
Tom Kalinski serves as the main character representing the spirit behind a scrappy and “too-cool-for-school” Sega versus the old-fashioned and conservative Nintendo. Sega and the Genesis are the underdogs in this fight but prove that they can challenge Nintendo and the up and coming SNES who are made out to be the bad guys – quite the contrary to what most people today believe.
Many marketing strategies, like “Segaville, USA” as well as struggles between Sega of America and Sega of Japan are explored in this behind-the-scenes thriller. The novel doesn’t just focus on Sega’s perspective however. Many chapters are devoted to simplified, yet enticing recaps and snapshot moments that give insight to what events were taking place for Nintendo and other companies as well as including Sony and EA. This gives the reader a chance to see a glimpse of both sides of the story as well as the relationship between companies. Individuals are introduced briefly and important ones are developed subtly throughout the book. The same can be said for the not so exciting history statistics that are carefully woven into the story only when necessary. There are some lulls in the action here and there but they aren’t too tough to get through.
The novel features a forward written by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, the men who will be working with Harris and directing the movie adaption, which is currently under development. Sony Pictures will be producing the film. It’s not really anything all that funny or exciting but it’s good to know that the producers have their own history in retro gaming.
Overall, this book is a must read for those who love retro gaming and want a trip to nostalgialand, as well as those who have always wanted to know how the heck video games became so popular. The book is available now and can be purchased online with this link through Amazon.com in both hardcover and digital formats. It’s a book and it’s about video games, plus there’s a movie coming out about it. That’s worth getting excited for!
About the Author
Follow on Twitter: @blakejharrisNYC