1st Edition

They Create Worlds The Story of the People and Companies That Shaped the Video Game Industry, Vol. I: 1971-1982

By Alexander Smith Copyright 2019
    606 Pages
    by CRC Press

    606 Pages
    by CRC Press

    They Create Worlds: The Story of the People and Companies That Shaped the Video Game Industry, Vol. 1 is the first in a three-volume set that provides an in-depth analysis of the creation and evolution of the video game industry. Beginning with the advent of computers in the mid-20th century, Alexander Smith’s text comprehensively highlights and examines individuals, companies, and market forces that have shaped the development of the video game industry around the world. Volume one, places an emphasis on the emerging ideas, concepts, and games developed from the commencement of the budding video game art form in the 1950s and 1960s through the first commercial activity in the 1970s and early 1980s. They Create Worlds aims to build a new foundation upon which future scholars and the video game industry itself can chart new paths.

    Key Features:

    • The most in-depth examination of the video game industry ever written, They Create Worlds charts the technological breakthroughs, design decisions, and market forces in the United States, Europe, and East Asia that birthed a $100 billion industry.
    • The books derive their information from rare primary sources such as little-studied trade publications, personal papers collections, and oral history interviews with designers and executives, many of whom have never told their stories before.
    • Spread over three volumes, They Create Worlds focuses on the creative designers, shrewd marketers, and innovative companies that have shaped video games from their earliest days as a novelty attraction to their current status as the most important entertainment medium of the 21st Century.
    • The books examine the formation of the video game industry in a clear narrative style that will make them useful as teaching aids in classes on the history of game design and economics, but they are not being written specifically as instructional books and can be enjoyed by anyone with a passion for video game history.

    1Searching for Bobby Fischer 1

    2 Shall We Play a (War) Game? 17

    3 The Priesthood at Play 29

    4 One, Two, Three, Four I Declare a Space War 43

    5 The Stars Are Right 61

    6 Pinball Wizards 75

    7 Rising Sun 101

    8 A Nutty Idea 121

    9 1TL200: A Video Game Odyssey 137

    10 Ping-Pong Diplomacy 155

    11 The Day of the Jackal 167


    These Violent Delights 183

    13 Homeward Bound 205

    14 Back to BASICs 225

    15 These Are the Voyages 241

    16 Micro Machines 251

    17 Solid State of Mind 269

    18 Breaking Out in Japan 279

    19 Chasing the Silver Ball 297

    20 Putting the F in Fun 313

    21 Hey Stella 327

    22 Meet Me at the Faire 343

    23 Micronauts 361

    24 Critical Role 371

    25 Adventure Time 383

    26 Power in the Palm of Your Hand 395

    27 The King is Dead, Long Live the King! 409

    28 Japanese Invaders 421

    29 Deep Impact 439

    30 Home Invasion 455

    31 Intelligent Television 467

    32 Active Television 477

    33 Guardians of the Galaxy 489

    34 Pac-Man Fever 505

    35 Blue Skies 517

    Epilogue: A Date Which Will Live in Infamy 535


    Alexander Smith is a reference librarian with a background in history, research, and law who has been delving into the history of the video game industry for over ten years. He has played a crucial role in the preservation of certain documents and artifacts in early video game history and has conducted over 100 oral history interviews with key executives in the evolution of the industry. Currently, he co-hosts a bi-monthly podcast dedicated to the history of the industry (also called "They Create Worlds") and serves as a researcher and consultant for the Video Game Pioneers Archive oral history project of the Smithsonian Institution.