10 Paragraphs about Video Games

  1. The video game industry had its commercial debut in the early 1970s, when electronics manufacturing costs were much more manageable. But since the end of the 1950s there were precursors in technological institutes and universities, such as “Tennis for Two” (1958) or “Spacewar!” (1962), considered non-commercial pioneers of video games, since they required sophisticated machinery for the time, such as oscilloscopes. However, with a version of “Spacewar!” for a PDP-6/PDP-10 computer, the first video game championship in history was held in 1972.
  2. Every video game is a software of entertainment, content on discs or some type of physical support and executed on an electronic or computer device, which can be a traditional computer, a tablet, a smartphone or a home video game console, that is, a recreational device that connects to the television screen and receives instructions from the user through different types of knobs or controls.
  3. In the late 20th century, the video game industry went from being an oddity to occupying a very prominent place in the commercial entertainment sector, especially in industrialized nations. It is estimated that in 2010 its total sales were around 22,400 million dollars, only in the United States. The global video game market is controlled by the oligopoly of its three main developers: Sony (13% economic participation in the sector), Microsoft (12%) and Nintendo (12%). However, there are many other “indie” companies, that is, independent.
  4. Video games, in general, offer a gaming experience based on multiple sensory stimuli. They combine visual animation with music and sound effects, in addition to the vibration of the controls or force feedback, in some cases. Its purpose is to provide the player with some kind of interactive story or situation, through the use of artificial intelligence.
  5. Originally, video games were marketed in their own small electronic device, that is, to change the game you had to buy an entirely different device. Later, video game consoles appeared, in which you could switch between one game and another by inserting the cartridge, disk or device that contained the game. And then came computer games, which required installation on a personal computer. The most recent trend in this regard has to do with video games on-line, that is, they are played on the Internet and require more of a fast connection than physical support, whether on computers, phones or tablets.
  6. The long-term effects of video games on children have always been a controversial topic. Many times the industry has been blamed for the violent behavior of some young people or even for the appearance of epilepsy. Today we know that video games are no more dangerous than other forms of entertainment, but that many times the lights and visual effects they possess can trigger dangerous episodes in epileptic or photosensitive people.
  7. At the beginning of the 21st century, video games constitute one of the forms of entertainment most consumed by the youth population, although there is also an audience of adults between 30 and 50 years old. Its popularity and acceptance have been such that since the late 1990s formal championships of e sports, that is, electronic sports or cyber sports.
  8. Many video games are considered forms of narration close to art or strictly artistic, with an aesthetic, sensitive and human content comparable, for example, with that of literature or cinema. In the first decades of the 21st century, many industrialized nations characterized video games in their laws as “cultural goods” that merit legal protection and that are part of the cultural legacy of nations.
  9. One of the biggest health concerns around video games has to do with pathological gambling or gambling addiction, especially in children or young people. This phenomenon can hinder the academic, social and even intellectual performance of people, just as any other form of addiction could. There is, however, debate about what would be a healthy amount of video game exposure time.

    Children enjoying computer games
    Happy kids winning games on computer
  10. When classifying video games, gameplay is usually taken into account, rather than visual or narrative differences. Thus, we can distinguish between:
    • Fight games. The player controls a character and must fight against others who oppose him, either in turns, as in a wrestling contest, or continuously, as he progresses through a stage (“Beat ’em up” or “Hack’n’Slash”). For example: “Street Fighter” (1987), “Marvel vs. Capcom” (1996) or “Super Smash Bros.” (1999).
    • Arcade games. They are repetitive and simple looking, usually two-dimensional, and the player depends entirely on their reflexes and continuously pressing a fire button, advancing endlessly through the levels. They are associated with the infancy of the industry, when there were gaming machines (“little machines” or Arcadian) activated by coins. For example: “Space invaders” (1978), “Pac-Man” (1980) or “Duck Hunt” (1984).
    • Platform games. The player controls a character who must navigate a two-dimensional world, avoiding physical obstacles with jumping, climbing, and other physical actions. They are generally inclined towards linear adventure or action stories. For example: “Super Mario Bros.” (1985), “Megaman” (1987) or “Crash Bandicoot” (1996).
    • Shooters. The experience consists of hitting with a weapon (or several) the enemies that appear successively, while going through some type of scenario. Depending on your perspective of the character, these games can be first person (FPS or First Person Shooter), third person (TPS or Third Person Shooter) or Shoot ’em up (two-dimensional arcade type, generally seen from a wide shot). For example: “Doom” (1993), “Call of Duty” (2003) or “No more Heroes” (2007).
    • Role playing games (RPG or Role Playing Game). The player controls a character throughout a long and complex adventure, accumulating items, experience points and making decisions related to the plot or individual character development. For example: “Final Fantasy” (1987), “Mass Effect” (2007) or “World of Warcraft” (2004).
    • Strategy games. The player must control numerous variables, elements, characters or objects in a tactical way, to deal with adverse situations, using logic rather than reflexes. They can address very different themes, from war to building civilizations. For example: “Civilization” (1991), “Heroes of Might and Magic” (1995) or “StarCraft” (1998).
    • Simulation games. Situations are recreated realistically and in the first or third person, such as driving a vehicle, going to war, driving an artificial life or holding the reins of a government. For example: “Microsoft Flight Simulator” (1982), “Sim City” (1989) or “The Sims” (2000).
    • Sports games. The player must compete against artificial intelligence or against other players in a specific sport. For example: “Super Tennis” (1991), “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” (1999) or “Wii Sports” (2006).
    • Adventure games. The player accompanies a character throughout a story and takes care of making the pertinent decisions for him or solving enigmas and riddles. Some involve much more text than hand-eye reflex situations (called “adventure games”). For example: “The Legend of Zelda” (1986), “The Secret of Monkey Island” (1990), “Grim Fandango” (1998).
    • Survival horror games. The player must face terrifying or paranoid situations, told in the first or third person, in which the psychological factor is very important. For example: “Resident Evil” (1996), “Silent Hill” (1999) or “The Last of Us” (2013).

It is important to keep in mind that these categories are not mutually exclusive, so we can play a strategy role-playing game, or a combat simulation game, for example.