Playing at the Next Level

I recently had the chance to review Playing At The Next Level by Ken Horowitz from McFarland. If you’re a big Sega fan, it’s definitely worth a read. Even if you’re not, this is a great inside look at the video game industry in the ’90s, when the Console Wars were at their most heated.

Sega is one of the most storied companies in video game history, starting out as the chief competitor to industry leader Nintendo and eventually forsaking their hardware development to focus on creating games for multiple platforms. This book is a concise, highly-readable documentary of Sega’s story, from the founding of the company to the development of their charismatic mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, to dedicating itself to making games and forsaking the game console market. For gaming enthusiasts interested in the creative and business aspects of game development and publication, this is an eye-opening narrative that testifies to the challenges of making it in the video game industry. While the structure of this book is largely linear and straightforward, excerpts from interviews and a sampling of photos help bring clarity and variety to a Horowitz’s easily digestible writing. While those who are not huge fans of Sega, interested in career in video games, or have a curiosity about the inner-workings of major video game company will find much to enjoy here, the ever-growing population of games and gamers who want to know more about the companies that create their favorite diversion would be hard-pressed to find a more appropriate and approachable volume.