• Grand Theft Auto V sold 11.2 million units on its release day, grossing $1B in its opening weekend – more than four times the highest-grossing film. How did video games become such big business and change the way an entire generation spends its leisure time? It started back in 1972, and it started with Pong – Al Alcorn’s first engineering project and an accidental runaway hit. Pong’s simplicity and arcade success drove Atari to bring the arcade into the home, and video games became the gateway drug to computer literacy for an entire generation of people. 

      But Atari’s reign at the top didn’t last for long. With so many consoles, so many games, and developers unwilling to pare down its platform selection, the video game industry crashed in 1983. In swooped Nintendo, a Japanese conglomerate with a Disney-like discipline for imagining family-friendly characters and addictive gameplay. Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. reinvigorated the industry, and by 1990, after the release of their handheld Gameboy, Nintendo boasted a baffling 95% market share. 

      A succession of usurpers came at Nintendo, starting with Sega and their Genesis console. They made a name for themselves as an edgy group of renegades: promoting women to executive leadership positions, taking over whole towns to earn retail space, developing combative advertising campaigns, and all-but ignoring Nintendo’s target demographic. When Sega chose not to go jointly create a console with Sony, though, Sony struck out on their own with the PlayStation – effectively killing Sega’s console business. Microsoft’s Xbox soon followed, and video games became the megalithic industry it is today. With VR, AR and new markets opening up all over the world, the game is just beginning … even after all these years.

  • “If anyone can do what you’re doing, you don’t really have a strategy.”

    Tom Kalinske, Former CEO, Sega of America

  • What you’ll hear in this episode

      • The video game that sold 11.2 million copies in 24 hours
      • An arcade game that broke because it worked a little too well 
      • There’s a connection between the women’s liberation movement and Pong
      • That time Atari took their first home console to a toy show and sold nothing
      • “Leave luck to heaven.”
      • Two plumbers, a hedgehog, and a giant gorilla
      • The pocket calculator on a bullet train that kickstarted an industry
      • Let’s go to the front lines of the console wars
      • How do you make Wal-Mart wish it never said no?
      • Why more companies should have a “Golden Chicken Award”
      • Console wars, Part II
      • The new version of Pong that 2017 desperately needs right now
  • Guest list

      •  

      Nolan Bushnell

      Is a technology pioneer, entrepreneur and scientist. He is best known as the founder of Atari Corporation and Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater. Over the past four decades he’s founded numerous other companies including Catalyst Technologies, Etak, Androbot, ByVideo.

      •  

      Blake Harris

      Is the author of Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation.

      •  

      Tegan Jones

      Is the co-host of the gaming/lifestyle podcast “Sass Effect.” She’s also an editor for Gizmodo Australia, Kotaku Australia and Lifehacker Australia.  

      •  

      Steven L. Kent

      Is the author of The Ultimate History of Video Games. He’s contributed to publications such as the Seattle Times, Electronic Games, Computer Entertainment News, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune. He also writes military science fiction novels. 

      •  

      Tom Kalinske

      Is the former CEO of Mattel, Matchbox, and president and CEO of Sega of America, Inc. and Leapfrog. He is currently the Executive Chairman of Global Education Learning, a company dedicated to children's education in China.

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