Game over: how Nintendo zapped an American industry, captured your dollars, and enslaved your children

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Random House, May 1, 1993 - Business & Economics - 445 pages
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Gradually Americans have become aware that the game is over: The Japanese have already landed. A Trojan horse has been smuggled into one out of every three American living rooms ... by our children. Through its video-game system, Nintendo has dominated a growing industry, projected to be worth $6-$7 billion in the United States in 1993, and has transformed itself into one of the world's most successful and influential corporations. As Nintendo Co. Ltd., ruled by its formidable chairman, Hiroshi Yamauchi, racks up huge profits, people in the electronics industry are wondering why American companies have such a small market share of this field. In Washington, congressmen, meeting in closed-door sessions (which they follow with self-serving press conferences), have charged that Nintendo alone is responsible for almost 10 percent of our trade deficit with Japan. These are the most obvious results of the Nintendo invasion, but there are more. "Q" ratings, which indicate the popularity of politicians, movie stars, and other public figures, showed that by 1990 the Nintendo mascot, Super Mario, was more familiar to American children than even Mickey Mouse. To some this is an outrage that symbolizes the next phase of this insidious invasion. Japan has already captured American wallets; the country's minds, beginning with those of its children, appear to be next. Fads have come and gone before, but this one is different. Kids are obsessed by video games; they conspire with one another about game strategy, draw pictures of the characters, and compose video-game adventures for their homework. The intensity with which they play and with which they submerge themselves in Nintendo culture isnoticeably different from the attention they pay to television. Parents, psychologists, and teachers all worry about the post-television generation of children - the Nintendo generation. The success of the Nintendo invasion, as related by journalist David Sheff after two years of research, is one of remarkable invention and marketing, but it also depends on a ruthless scorched-earth policy rarely seen in any industry. As one of the author's sources put it, the company uses "whatever is required - threats, intimidation, coercion". As Mr. Sheff reveals in this sobering expose, Nintendo is not content merely to have swallowed up the toy and electronic-game industries, but now has its sights set on the entertainment, consumer electronics, communications, and computer businesses. As these industries approach the twenty-first century, more and more analysts have come to the same conclusion as did Apple Computer president Michael Spindler, who was one of the first to become aware of the problem. When, in March 1991, he was asked which company Apple feared most in the 1990s, Spindler answered, "Nintendo". Game Over is a remarkable book about a remarkable company.

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Contents

Acknowledgments x1 1 A New Leader of the Club
3
In Heavens Hands
12
I Mario
37
Copyright

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About the author (1993)

DAVID SHEFF's books include Game Over, China Dawn, and All We Are Saying. His many articles and interviews have appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Wired, Fortune, and elsewhere. His piece for the New York Times Magazine, "My Addicted Son," won an award from the American Psychological Association for "Outstanding Contribution to Advancing the Understanding of Addiction." Sheff and his family live in Inverness, California.

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