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