Biography of Steven L. Kent, Author of The Ultimate History of Video Games

December 5, 2009 · Print This Article

About the Author

The author of The Ultimate History of Video Games, Steven L. Kent is one of the foremost experts in the field of classic and modern video games. Kent has appeared on various news programs (including the CBS Morning Show and the NBC Nightly News) talking about video games and has had articles published in USA Today, Rolling Stone, RePlay, Wired, Next Generation, and numerous other magazines.

The Basics

Although born in San Diego, California, Kent grew up in Hawaii, where he enjoyed torch fishing, skin diving, surfing, and even a little boxing. He attended college in Utah at Brigham Young University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in communications. Working for the LDS Church, Kent spent 1979-1981 as a Spanish-speaking missionary serving migrant farm workers in southern Idaho. From 1986-1988, Kent was a telemarketer, hawking subscriptions to TV Guide and Inc. Magazine. Despite his formal education, Kent claims that “his most important education came from life.”

Video Game Epiphany

In the acknowledgements section of The Ultimate History of Video Games, Kent relates the story of how he got involved with video games. It was 1972, the year Pong, the world’s first commercially successful coin-op video game, made its debut in the arcades, and Kent’s physical education teacher had taken his class to the local bowling alley in Kalihi, which is on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. While the rest of the class bowled, Kent and the teacher played Pong. Prior to this life-changing experience, Kent had played electromechanical games (his favorite at the time being Night Bomber), but Pong was unlike anything he had ever seen before. After batting the ball back and forth a few times with the rectangular paddles, Kent never looked back.

Breaking In and Hitting The Big Time

In 1993, Kent, living in Seattle at the time, broke into journalism by reviewing three PC games (The Seventh Guest, Alone in the Dark, and Legacy) for the Halloween issue of the Seattle Times. Emboldened by his publishing success (and by the loss of his job at a PR agency), Kent became a full-time freelancer, culminating with The First Quarter: A 25-Year History of Video Games, a self-published, though critically acclaimed book released in 2000. The book was later re-published as The Ultimate History of Video Games by Three Rivers Press, which is a division of Random House. Other game books written by Kent include The Making of Doom 3 and The Making of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

Now Writing…

These days, Kent, the author of the sci-fi novels The Clone Republic, Rogue Clone, and The Clone Betrayal, spends most of his working hours writing fiction.


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