Playing at the Next Level

A History of American Sega Games

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About the Book

Today a multinational video game developer, Sega was the first to break Nintendo’s grip on the gaming industry, expanding from primarily an arcade game company to become the dominant game console manufacturer in North America. A major part of that success came from the hard work and innovation of its subsidiary, Sega of America, who in a little more than a decade wrested the majority market share from Nintendo and revolutionized how games were made.
Drawing on interviews with nearly 100 Sega alumni, this book traces the development of the company, revealing previously undocumented areas of game-making history, including Sega’s relationship with Tonka, the creation of its internal studios, and major breakthroughs like the Sega Channel and HEAT Network. More than 40 of the company’s most influential games are explored in detail.

About the Author(s)

Ken Horowitz is a professor of English and has written about Sega and video games for over a decade for his website, Sega-16, as well as for numerous other websites and magazines. He lives in Puerto Rico.

Bibliographic Details

Ken Horowitz
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 312
Bibliographic Info: 26 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9994-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2557-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents





Acknowledgments • ix


Sega History Timeline • x


Preface • 1


The Return of the American Video Game Market • 3


Sega Establishes Itself in America • 6


The Sega/Tonka Alliance • 10


Taking the First Step • 16


Building the American Arm of Software Development • 21


Contracting Third Party Studios • 27


Genesis Does! • 32


Realtime Games Software • 34


Sega Scores a Touchdown • 40


Infogrames • 50


Along Came a Spider • 56


GEMS Shine on the Genesis • 66


ToeJam & Earl Studios • 69


Sega Technical Institute • 77


Changing of the Guard • 87


New Leadership for an Expanding Market • 105


Novotrade International • 108


The Hardware Revolution • 116


Sega Multimedia Studio • 120


Product Development Enters a New Era • 132


The Coming of ­Full-Motion Video Games • 134


BlueSky Software • 145


Westwood Associates • 161


Sega Interactive Development Division • 166


Sega Midwest Studio • 170


Sega Reorganizes Internally • 174


Alpha (Amoeba) Group • 178


Omega Group • 197


Sega Gets Serious About Sports • 215


The Sega Channel • 235


Twice the Bits, Twice the Problems • 244


Sega Saturn Tiger Team • 246


The Winds of Change • 254


SegaSoft • 256


All Good Things… • 273


Full Circle • 280


Works Cited • 283


Index • 291

Book Reviews & Awards

“I recommend…this is a must read”—SEGAbits; “Definitely worth a read…a great inside look at the video game industry in the ’90s…a concise, highly-readable documentary of Sega’s story…an eye-opening narrative that testifies to the challenges of making it in the video game industry…much to enjoy…hard-pressed to find a more appropriate and approachable volume”—M. Brandon Robbins, level250geek.