SEGA, Nintendo, Pacman, Solitaire, Mario Bros., Pinball, Trivia Crack, Tamagotchi, Daytona, Carmen Sandiego… what do all these things have in common? They belong to the world of video games. Praised and criticized alike, played by almost everyone, since it is the World Video Game Day, we would like you to know more about them.
At first, simple entertainment…now a million dollar industry
The first video games date back to the 1950s, at a time when computing was taking its first steps using gigantic machines that occupied entire rooms at universities and educational centres. The «Tennis for two» and «Spacewar!», that emerged in 1958 and 1962 respectively, are considered to be the pioneers of this activity.
In the 1970s, “arcade” coin operated machines became popular, that is, equipment arranged in public spaces such as cafes and bars. One of the first exponents of this way of having fun was the video game «Pong», created by the American developer Atari.
Towards the end of the 1970s, and especially in 1980, two Japanese companies joined the video game market as competitors: they were the famous Nintendo and SEGA. At that time, home consoles emerged first, and desktop computers later, allowing fun to be brought to homes and becoming really popular. Most of the well-known genres of videogames – such as action, adventure, strategy – emerged and consolidated in those years, and they have continued up to now.
The 1990s brought the leap to 16-bit technology, with much better and more attractive graphic quality. In 1994, the giant Sony burst onto the market with the famous PlayStation that have delighted young people of that generation.
The development of the Internet towards the beginning of the millennium meant the rise of online games, especially multiplayer games, where you can compete or play collaboratively against «the machine» (although it would be more accurate to say «the system»). In recent years, the development and massification of smartphones allows playing anywhere and anytime, while several projects for virtual reality helmets are in development that promise to take the experience one step further.
The video game industry started with coin operated machines in the 1970s to having a turnover of more than 80,000 million dollars in the last decade, double that of the film industry. It is estimated that at least 100,000 people around the world are dedicated to it. In recent years, a branch of «indie» video games has begun to appear, with developments and graphic and thematic proposals that move away from the most common stereotypes.
There is a controversy regarding the impact that video games have on gamers, especially younger ones. Many people argue that they generate addiction, abstraction from the real world, loss of concentration, and encouragement of violence, among other harmful effects. However, others argue that they are useful as educational tools, as they enhance hand-eye coordination, are highly stimulating, encourage the development of strategies and problem solving, improve self-esteem and allow them to be approached from various subjects and disciplines. In recent decades, the educational value that some videogames can have to reinforce learning has been studied in detail, currently being considered a valid way to work on some topics and competencies. So, learning and having fun at the same time is no longer an impossible adventure.
Would you like to tell us what your favourite video game is?
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Gracias a Lucio Maciá por la nota, a Araceli Sabransky por la selección de imágenes, Cecilia Musis por la traducción en Linkedin y a Christian Trappani por la organización.