The Rise of Video Games Section “Word” Matt Spencer

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The Rise of Video Games

Section “Word”

Matt Spencer

The origin of video games lies in the early cathode ray, tube-based missile defense systems from the late 1940s. These programs were later adapted into other simple games during the 1950s. By the late 1950s and through the 1960s, more computer games were developed (mostly on mainframe computers), gradually increasing in sophistication and complexity. Following this period, video games diverged into different platforms: arcade, mainframe, console, personal computer and later handheld games.

Topic 1: It Begins with 8-bit

Topic 2: NES Becomes the 80s Console

Topic 3 Top Handheld Units Sold

Topic 4 3D and CDs Start to Emerge

Topic 5 Goodbye Sega, Hello PS2

Topic 6 The Motion Controller Leads the Way

Topic 7 World Wide Sales - Most Units Sold

It Begins with 8-Bit

In the history of computer and video games, the second generation (sometimes referred to as the early 8-bit era or to a lesser extent, the 4-bit era) began in 1976 with the release of the Fairchild Channel F and Radofin 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System. The Atari 2600 was the dominant console for much of the second generation, with other consoles such as the Intellivision, Odyssey 2, and ColecoVision also enjoying market share. The second generation came to an abrupt end in 1984 amid the video game crash of 1983. (E.Brookster)

NES Becomes the 80s Console

Starting in 1983 the third generation began with the Japanese release of the Family Computer (later known as the Nintendo Entertainment System in the rest of the world). Although the previous generation of consoles had also used 8-bit processors, it was at the end of this generation that home consoles were first labeled by their "bits."

This also came into fashion as 16-bit systems like the Mega Drive/Genesis were marketed to differentiate between the generations of consoles. In the United States, this generation in gaming was primarily dominated by the NES/Famicom.

Top Handheld Units Sold

  • Nintendo DS

  • Game Boy

  • Game Boy Advance

  • PlayStation Portable

3D and CD's Start to Emerge

Starting in 1987 and ending in 1996, the fourth generation of video game consoles consisted primarily of games and systems programmed for the 16-bit era. During this generation, 2D graphics had improved over the previous generation and experimentation began to occur with 3D graphics. Some of the most notable systems released during this generation were the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1990), the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis (1988), and the Neo Geo (1990). Nintendo's Game Boy was also released during the fourth generation, which would later become the most popular series of handheld gaming systems during the 1990s. A rivalry between Sega and Nintendo occurred during this generation, starting the first ever console war.

Goodbye Sega, Hello PS2

The sixth-generation era (128-bit ) refers to the computer and video games, video game consoles, and video game handhelds available at the turn of the 21st century. Platforms of the sixth generation include Sega's Dreamcast, Sony's PlayStation 2, the Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft's Xbox. This era began on November 27, 1998, with the release of the Dreamcast and was joined by PlayStation 2 in March 2000. The Dreamcast was discontinued in North America in November 2001 and in Europe in late 2002. The GameCube was discontinued in 2007. The Xbox was discontinued in Japan in 2005 and worldwide in 2006. The PlayStation 2 is still in production and selling steadily even today in late 2010. (Smythe)

The Motion Controller Leads the Way

In the history of video games, the seventh generation of consoles is the current one, made up of those consoles released since late 2004 by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. For home consoles, the seventh generation began on November 22, 2005 with the release of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and continued with the release of Sony's PlayStation 3 on November 11, 2006, and Nintendo's Wii on November 19, 2006. Each new console introduced a new type of breakthrough in technology. The Xbox 360 offered HD up scaling to 1080p, the PlayStation 3 offered full 1080p high-definition graphics and Blu-ray Disc technology, and the Wii focused on integrating controllers with movement sensors as well as joysticks. Recently, joining Nintendo in the motion market, Sony has released the Playstation Move.


Units Sold: America

Units Sold: World Wide

Nintendo Wii

35.91 Million 9/10

75.90 Million 3/10

PlayStation 3

12 Million 4/10

41.6 Million 9/10

Xbox 360

18-6 Million 12/09

44.6 Million 9/10

The Playstation move features motion sensing gaming, similar to that of the Nintendo's Wii, but with much more precision and accuracy. Microsoft has also joined Sony and Nintendo, with its new Kinect. Unlike the other two systems (Playstation 3 and Wii), Kinect does not use any controllers of any sort and makes users the "controller." While the Xbox 360 offers wired controllers as a standalone product, all Playstation 3 controllers can be used in wired and wireless configurations. There are also other home consoles in the seventh generation, such as EVO Smart Console and Hyper scan. (Fracterneck)

World Wide Sale - Most Units Sold

  1. Sony PS2

  2. Sony PS1

  3. Nintendo Wii

  4. Nintendo MES

  5. Nintendo Snes


E.Brookster, Fred. From Then to Now. Baltimore, MD: Freedom Press, 2004.

Fracterneck, Brent. "PS3 Holiday Buying Guide." PS3 Has All the Good Stuff (2010): 4-5.

Smythe, Jakie. A Brief History of Home Video Games. 10 2010 .

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