Born in Leigh, Lancashire 1970

Work as a School based IT Network Manager

No previous book credits but several magazine and blog credits.

Standard Life Magazine - Video Game Collecting Article

Article Writer for Fusion Magazine, Retro Magazine,

Retro Gaming Roundup Podcast (Co Founder, Producer, Editor, Host, Writer)

Centre For Computing History (Cambridge)

Bitmap Brothers Vs Sensible Software (Event Writer and Presenter)

Ocean Software Room 101 (Event Writer and Presenter)

An Evening With John Romero (Event Writer and Presenter)

Revival Retro Events (Interviewer and Panel Host)

Video Masters TV (Writer and Voice Artist - Earl The Robot)

CGE Adventures Video Game - (Developer, Writer, Artwork)

New York Toy Fair Video Game (Developer, Writer)

Smoke and Mirrors - The Rise and Fall of a Serial Antipreneur by Mike James

A journalistic investigation into a $2,000,000 crowd-funding scam that ultimately failed.

Former podcast co-host and friend, Mike Kennedy, twice successfully crowd-funded Retro Magazine and attempted to bring a video game console to market via the same method.

Not having the knowledge or funds to do so, he approached industry professionals to obtain a realistic timescale and cost. Not willing to wait for either, he asked "What can we do with Smoke and Mirrors?"

As respected professionals walked away, he turned to lesser able and less scrupulous engineers to help him defraud his way to $2,000,000 in crowd-funding revenue.

Being behind the scenes, the author, and others, knew that the endless 3D renders and multiple fake prototype consoles were far from genuine, one of them being displayed at the World's premier Toy industry event, the New York Toy Fair.

After failed crowd-funding attempts and more engineers, further fake prototypes were exposed and paid for by siphoning funds from the successfully funded Retro Magazine and from investment by friends and family members, who would go on to lose their investments and any potential claims on the company as several new companies were registered and the assets transferred to them secretly and illegally.

Magazine writers went unpaid, subscribers went without their magazines and business partners were further defrauded as the empire fell apart, forcing Mike Kennedy to sell his yacht, his home and move to a Motel in a different state.

The author has a wide variety of first hand sources for the information in the book and attempted to warn potential customers that all was not as it seemed.


Mike James is the best writer to tell the story of the smoke and mirrors that obscured the true nature of the Coleco Chameleon. He was on the ground floor, which put him in the best possible position to follow entrepreneur Mike Kennedy as RETRO Videogame Magazine and the ill-fated Chameleon console spun up and spiraled out of control. James has the details, the interviews, and the full story. – David L. Craddock



  • "I can't put this down. I've been reading it all day - fantastic stuff. So much stuff I had speculations on and seeing them come to light, just wow. Congratulations on this crazy quest you went on."

    – Reader review
  • "Wow, what a wild ride! Glad to finally read all the details and you could not have put this together better! I really enjoyed the read, I was trying to wait for the physical book but I ended up not being able to put this "pdf" down."

    – Reader review
  • "This settles everything. If you ever went to Atari Age during this debacle, if you ever watched the CU Podcast videos on YouTube about the scam, this is the only way to get the true story of what happened with no speculation or embellishment.

    But there's more to it than that. There's more to this story than a fake console. It's about watching a lamb being led to the slaughter and, for all ones effort, seeing the end a mile away and being unable to change it. It's a story of how a mixture of greed and ambition can lead to downfall. It's a story about why to listen to your friends. It's a life lesson for us all."

    – Reader review





When I sat down to write this book, I didn't sit down to write this book. I didn't even know if it was a book. I knew there was a story to tell, at the very least a factual documentation of the rise and fall of Mike Kennedy, but I didn't just want to write a factual documentation of events. What I didn't realize until I had started writing was that there is also a story between the lines and that is what I wanted to write.

The majority of people who will read this book will be a part of the video game community because, like it or not, the story barely broke out beyond the realms of that community. For those of us involved or following along, it became all-encompassing at times, but it was, at best, a small group of people in a niche audience that were aware of it.

What I realized as I began to write was that there was also a human story, the story of a man who followed his dreams and lost his way. The story of a man who set out on a journey and picked up fellow travelers along the way, some of them disingenuous, some of them with Mike's best interests at heart, but all of them along for the ride, and we will examine Mike's inability or unwillingness to notice the difference.

Throughout the following pages you will join Mike on his journey from innocent gamer to pantomime villain or true pariah, depending on your opinion. You will have to decide. Some people will come out of this book in a better light than others, some will come out of it with their integrity and reputation intact, others will not. This is not an opinion piece, it is a factual representation of events, but having said that, the facts will lead us to some inevitable conclusions.

I hope and believe that the book has appeal beyond the realms of the gaming community as I truly believe it is a valid study of the human condition and its foibles, a study of one man's blindness to the folly of his endeavors and a study of those willing to help and those seeking to hinder him.

Though I was a passenger on the bus as it left the station, before joining others under it, as it began to gather speed before careering out of control as the wheels began to wobble and the inevitable crash happened, I certainly did not look back at the wreckage with any satisfaction. I wasn't, to use an analogy, an ambulance chaser, in fact, on more than one occasion, I was the ambulance offering assistance.

Even after the last wisps of smoke had left the long burned out wreckage, I would have willingly gone back to that station and stopped Mike from boarding. By the end of the book however, you will realize that Mike had his ticket and he was always going to take that ride, wherever it may lead.

Mike James (UKMike)