We would like to issue our thanks to both Steven L Kent and to Jordan Freeman of Zoom Platform . Steven was willing to sit with us and discuss his books, and the history of video games for several hours. And Jordan was kind enough to connect us to Steven, and to help arrange the interview. We are grateful to both Steven and Jordan for their time and patience.
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This is the final part
of a conversation with author and video game historian Steven L Kent, and is a collaboration between ourselves and Zoom Platform. Whilst this is an audio episode, it was originally recorded as a pair of video interviews. What we’ve done is cut the two video interviews into four parts and will be releasing them as audio episodes. But if you’d rather watch the first two parts as a video
as edited by Jay and Squidge
you’ll find an embedded player here:
Don’t forget to check out the other parts of the conversation:
And all four parts of our interview with Steven can be found here.
The Final Part
As a reminder, Steven describes his books as
My books are called "The Ultimate History of Video Games".
Volume 1 starts out with Abraham Lincoln and Bagatelle, and goes all the way to 2000 and sort of the collapse of the Dreamcast - or it’s about to collapse, you can tell that it’s faltering - PlayStation 2 has been announced and is just coming out, and Xbox has been announced.
Book two has some overlap, because there will be some people who read volume 2 without reading volume 1, so it’s got a bunch of overlap. But what’s interesting is that I thought I’d be able to go from 2000 to the present, but I only got to 2012. So volume three should come out around 2026.
As with part three of our discussion, we reached out to you all
aka, the community
for questions that you would like to as Steven. And we had some doosies of questions to go through. Starting with…
2) Which Was The Best Console?
this is question 2 because the first question was asked in the previous part
Which was the best console ever, and why was it the SNES?
And this started a wonderful conversation about the 16-bit generation, how Steven thought that it dragged on for a little too long, and which were his favourite consoles.
I think that the Super NES was a fabulous console, I really do. Head and shoulders above its competitors. And when I say "its competitors," - here I am sticking my foot in my mouth again - really, truthfully I group the 3DO and the Jaguar in with the Super NES that I do with the Saturn and the PlayStation and the N64.
And we all tended to agree with the time periods that Steven had chosen, as it had lead to huge innovation in video games, storytelling, gameplay, and technology. Jay also mentions one of his oft-told stories from Masters of Doom, Super Mario Bros. 3, and a Cease and Desist letter from Nintendo.
3) Retro Game Collecting of the Future
would be interesting to also know their take on what modern titles will be historically relevant in 20 years.
What does a top 10 list of games look like in 20, 30 years? Will people be clamouring for a cartridge copy of breath of the wild?
Which is an amazing question that looks into the future of gaming. What will retro game top-tens look like in 20 years? Will we all be writing op-eds about how
Video games?! Video games?! Pah! I was there at the start. There were 256 colours, 8 bits, and two buttons on your controller. And that was all you needed
I can resonate with this because I’m a bit of a retro collector myself. I like to collect stuff from my childhood that I remember playing… hook it up to my TV, play it, and have the memories flooding back.
4) Sequels and Weird IP
The NES had a weird streak of taking an a completely different game and slapping nintendo IP on it and calling it a sequel - what are your thoughts on this?
Which started a conversation about the best and worst sequels that video games have ever had - including Double Dragon, Super Mario Bros., Nintendo being incredibly progressive and Capcom being accidentally progressive as a way to get around the Nintendo seal of approval.
5) What About PC?
I’d love to learn their thoughts on PC gaming history, too. A lot of coverage seems to be centred around consoles (WoW being the exception). Like, what genres of games have PC gaming to thank (MMOs being the top of the list, I’d say)?
Interestingly, Steven was originally planning to write two separate books:
One on the history of video game consoles
One on the history of PC video games
But the biggest barrier was that PC gaming history is so sprawling; and, quite frankly, the history of video game consoles is much more interesting.
6) The Question of Difficulty
Do you think the older games are harder, or is it that the newer games are easier?
And Steven came out of left-field with his answer, but is completely and utterly right with what he says. And no, his point wasn’t just about the fact that arcade games were designed to be played for 5-10 seconds at a time.
When Defender came out, people said, "this is impossible! There are four buttons!"
Our Zoom-Platform Game Suggestions
We’d love to suggest some of our favourite titles that are available on Zoom Platform
seeing as how they helped with putting this episode together