A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a
user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a
TV screen or computer monitor. The word video in video game
traditionally referred to a raster display device, but as of the
2000s, it implies any type of display device that can produce two- or
three-dimensional images. Some theorists categorize video games as an
art form, but this designation is controversial.
The electronic systems used to play video games are known as
platforms; examples of these are personal computers and video game
consoles. These platforms range from large mainframe computers to
small handheld computing devices. Specialized video games such as
arcade games, in which the video game components are housed in a
large, typically coin-operated chassis, while common in the 1980s in
video arcades, have gradually declined due to the widespread
availability of affordable home video game consoles (e.g., PlayStation
Xbox One and
Wii U) and video games on desktop and laptop
computers and smartphones.
The input device used for games, the game controller, varies across
platforms. Common controllers include gamepads, joysticks, mouse
devices, keyboards, the touchscreens of mobile devices, or even a
person's body with the help of
Kinect sensor. Players typically view
the game on a video screen or television or computer monitor, or
sometimes on virtual reality head-mounted display goggles. There are
often game sound effects, music and voice actor lines which come from
loudspeakers or headphones. Some games in the 2000s include haptic,
vibration-creating effects, force feedback peripherals and virtual
In the 2010s, the commercial importance video game industry is of
increasing. The emerging Asian markets and mobile games on smartphones
in particular are driving the growth of the industry. As of 2015,
video games generated sales of USD 74 billion annually worldwide, and
were the third-largest segment in the U.S. entertainment market,
behind broadcast and cable TV.
2.1.5 Web browser
2.1.7 Virtual reality
2.3.1 Casual games
2.3.2 Serious games
2.3.3 Educational games
3.1 Downloadable content
3.1.1 Expansion packs
3.5 Easter eggs
6 Social aspects
6.4 Behavioral effects
6.5 Objections to video games
7 Possible benefits
8 Ratings and censorship
8.3 Germany: BPjM and USK
9 Commercial aspects
9.4 Copyright of video games
11 See also
14 External links
Main article: History of video games
See also: Early history of video games
Tennis for Two, an early analog computer game that used an
oscilloscope for a display
A modern recreation of a controller for Tennis for Two
Early games used interactive electronic devices with various display
formats. The earliest example is from 1947—a "Cathode ray tube
Amusement Device" was filed for a patent on 25 January 1947, by Thomas
T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann, and issued on 14 December 1948,
as U.S. Patent 2455992. Inspired by radar display technology, it
consisted of an analog device that allowed a user to control a
vector-drawn dot on the screen to simulate a missile being fired at
targets, which were drawings fixed to the screen. Other early
examples include: The Nimrod computer at the 1951 Festival of Britain;
OXO a tic-tac-toe Computer game by Alexander S. Douglas for the EDSAC
in 1952; Tennis for Two, an electronic interactive game engineered by
William Higinbotham in 1958; Spacewar!, written by
MIT students Martin
Graetz, Steve Russell, and Wayne Wiitanen's on a DEC
PDP-1 computer in
1961; and the hit ping pong-style Pong, a 1972 game by Atari. Each
game used different means of display: NIMROD used a panel of lights to
play the game of Nim,
OXO used a graphical display to play
Tennis for Two
Tennis for Two used an oscilloscope to display a side
view of a tennis court, and
Spacewar! used the DEC PDP-1's vector
display to have two spaceships battle each other.
Nolan Bushnell at the
Game Developers Conference
Game Developers Conference in 2011
In 1971, Computer Space, created by
Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, was
the first commercially sold, coin-operated video game. It used a
black-and-white television for its display, and the computer system
was made of 74 series TTL chips. The game was featured in the 1973
science fiction film Soylent Green.
Computer Space was followed in
1972 by the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home console. Modeled after a
late 1960s prototype console developed by
Ralph H. Baer
Ralph H. Baer called the
"Brown Box", it also used a standard television. These were
followed by two versions of Atari's Pong; an arcade version in 1972
and a home version in 1975 that dramatically increased video game
popularity. The commercial success of
Pong led numerous other
companies to develop
Pong clones and their own systems, spawning the
video game industry.
A flood of
Pong clones eventually led to the video game crash of 1977,
which came to an end with the mainstream success of Taito's 1978
shooter game Space Invaders, marking the beginning of the golden
age of arcade video games and inspiring dozens of manufacturers to
enter the market. The game inspired arcade machines to become
prevalent in mainstream locations such as shopping malls, traditional
storefronts, restaurants, and convenience stores. The game also
became the subject of numerous articles and stories on television and
in newspapers and magazines, establishing video gaming as a rapidly
growing mainstream hobby.
Space Invaders was soon licensed for
Atari VCS (later known as
Atari 2600), becoming the first "killer
app" and quadrupling the console's sales. This helped Atari
recover from their earlier losses, and in turn the
revived the home video game market during the second generation of
consoles, up until the North American video game crash of 1983.
The home video game industry was revitalized shortly afterwards by the
widespread success of the
Nintendo Entertainment System, which
marked a shift in the dominance of the video game industry from the
United States to Japan during the third generation of consoles.
See also: History of video games
After Pong, the
Atari 2600 was the first game console to achieve
widespread success and awareness.
The term "platform" refers to the specific combination of electronic
components or computer hardware which, in conjunction with software,
allows a video game to operate. The term "system" is also commonly
used. The distinctions below are not always clear and there may be
games that bridge one or more platforms. In addition to personal
computers, there are other devices which have the ability to play
games but are not dedicated video game machines, such as smartphones,
PDAs and graphing calculators.
In common use a "PC game" refers to a form of media that involves a
player interacting with a personal computer connected to a video
monitor. Personal computers are not dedicated game platforms, so there
may be differences running the same game in different hardware, also
the openness allows some features to developers like reduced software
cost, increased flexibility, increased innovation, emulation,
creation of modifications ("mods"), open hosting for online gaming (in
which a person plays a video game with people who are in a different
household) and others.
Xbox 360 console and controller
A "console game" is played on a specialized electronic device that
connects to a common television set or composite video monitor, unlike
PCs, which can run all sorts of computer programs, a console is a
dedicated video game platform manufactured by a specific company.
Usually consoles only run games developed for it, or games from other
platform made by the same company, but never games developed by its
direct competitor, even if the same game is available on different
platforms. It often comes with a specific game controller. Major
console platforms include Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo.
Game Boy was the first successful handheld console,
selling over 100 million systems.
A "handheld" gaming device is a small, self-contained electronic
device that is portable and can be held in a user's hands. It features
the console, a small screen, speakers and buttons, joystick or other
game controllers in a single unit. Like consoles, handhelds are
dedicated platforms, and share almost the same characteristics.
Handheld hardware usually is less powerful than PC or console
hardware. Some handheld games from the late 1970s and early 1980s
could only play one game. In the 1990s and 2000s, a number of handheld
games used cartridges, which enabled them to be used to play many
A horror-themed arcade game in which players use a light gun
"Arcade game" generally refers to a game played on an even more
specialized type of electronic device that is typically designed to
play only one game and is encased in a special, large coin-operated
cabinet which has one built-in console, controllers (joystick,
buttons, etc.), a CRT screen, and audio amplifier and speakers. Arcade
games often have brightly painted logos and images relating to the
theme of the game. While most arcade games are housed in a vertical
cabinet, which the user typically stands in front of to play, some
arcade games use a tabletop approach, in which the display screen is
housed in a table-style cabinet with a see-through table top. With
table-top games, the users typically sit to play. In the 1990s and
2000s, some arcade games offered players a choice of multiple games.
In the 1980s, video arcades were businesses in which game players
could use a number of arcade video games. In the 2010s, there are far
fewer video arcades, but some movie theaters and family entertainment
centers still have them.
The web browser has also established itself as platform in its own
right in the 2000s, while providing a cross-platform environment for
video games designed to be played on a wide spectrum of hardware from
personal computers and tablet computers to smartphones. This in turn
has generated new terms to qualify classes of web browser-based games.
These games may be identified based on the website that they appear,
such as with "Facebook" games. Others are named based on the
programming platform used to develop them, such as Java and Flash
With the advent of standard operating systems for mobile devices such
as iOS and Android and devices with greater hardware performance,
mobile gaming has become a significant platform. While many mobile
games share similar concepts with browser games, these games may
utilize features of smart devices that are not necessary present on
other platforms such as global positing information and camera devices
to support augmented reality gameplay. Mobile games also led into the
development of microtransactions as a valid revenue model for casual
Virtual reality (VR) games generally require players to use a special
head-mounted unit that provides stereoscopic screens and motion
tracking to immerse a player within virtual environment that responds
to their head movements. Some VR systems include control units for the
player's hands as to provide a direct way to interact with the virtual
world. VR systems generally require a separate computer, console, or
other processing device that couples with the head-mounted unit.
A new platform of video games emerged in late 2017 in which users
could take ownership of game assets (digital assets) using Blockchain
technologies. An example of this is Cryptokitties.
Video game genre
A video game, like most other forms of media, may be categorized into
Video game genres are used to categorize video games based on
their gameplay interaction rather than visual or narrative
differences. A video game genre is defined by a set of
gameplay challenges and are classified independent of their setting or
game-world content, unlike other works of fiction such as films or
books. For example, a shooter game is still a shooter game, regardless
of whether it takes place in a fantasy world or in outer
Because genres are dependent on content for definition, genres have
changed and evolved as newer styles of video games have come into
existence. Ever advancing technology and production values related to
video game development have fostered more lifelike and complex games
which have in turn introduced or enhanced genre possibilities (e.g.,
virtual pets), pushed the boundaries of existing video gaming or in
some cases add new possibilities in play (such as that seen with games
specifically designed for devices like Sony's EyeToy). Some genres
represent combinations of others, such as massively multiplayer online
role-playing games, or, more commonly, MMORPGs. It is also common to
see higher level genre terms that are collective in nature across all
other genres such as with action, music/rhythm or horror-themed video
Main article: Casual game
Casual games derive their name from their ease of accessibility,
simple to understand gameplay and quick to grasp rule sets.
Additionally, casual games frequently support the ability to jump in
and out of play on demand. Casual games as a format existed long
before the term was coined and include video games such as Solitaire
or Minesweeper which can commonly be found pre-installed with many
versions of the
Microsoft Windows operating system. Examples of genres
within this category are match three, hidden object, time management,
puzzle or many of the tower defense style games. Casual games are
generally available through app stores and online retailers such as
GameHouse or provided for free play through web
portals such as Newgrounds. While casual games are most commonly
played on personal computers, phones or tablets, they can also be
found on many of the on-line console system download services (e.g.,
Main article: Serious game
Serious games are games that are designed primarily to convey
information or a learning experience to the player. Some serious games
may even fail to qualify as a video game in the traditional sense of
Educational software does not typically fall under this
category (e.g., touch typing tutors, language learning programs, etc.)
and the primary distinction would appear to be based on the game's
primary goal as well as target age demographics. As with the other
categories, this description is more of a guideline than a rule.
Serious games are games generally made for reasons beyond simple
entertainment and as with the core and casual games may include works
from any given genre, although some such as exercise games,
educational games, or propaganda games may have a higher
representation in this group due to their subject matter. These games
are typically designed to be played by professionals as part of a
specific job or for skill set improvement. They can also be created to
convey social-political awareness on a specific subject.
A screenshot from
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator showing a Beech 1900D
One of the longest-running serious games franchises would be Microsoft
Flight Simulator, first published in 1982 under that name. The United
States military uses virtual reality based simulations, such as VBS1
for training exercises, as do a growing number of first responder
roles (e.g., police, firefighters, EMTs). One example of a
non-game environment utilized as a platform for serious game
development would be the virtual world of Second Life, which is
currently used by several United States governmental departments
(e.g., NOAA, NASA, JPL), Universities (e.g., Ohio University, MIT) for
educational and remote learning programs and businesses (e.g.,
IBM, Cisco Systems) for meetings and training.
Tactical media in video games plays a crucial role in making a
statement or conveying a message on important relevant issues. This
form of media allows for a broader audience to be able to receive and
gain access to certain information that otherwise may not have reached
such people. An example of tactical media in video games would be
newsgames. These are short games related to contemporary events
designed to illustrate a point. For example, Take Action Games is
a game studio collective that was co-founded by Susana Ruiz and has
made successful serious games. Some of these games include Darfur is
Dying, Finding Zoe, and In The Balance. All of these games bring
awareness to important issues and events.
Educational video games
Educational video games and Educational software
Vtech educational video game
On 23 September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama launched a campaign
called "Educate to Innovate" aimed at improving the technological,
mathematical, scientific and engineering abilities of American
students. This campaign states that it plans to harness the power of
interactive games to help achieve the goal of students excelling in
these departments. This campaign has stemmed into many new
opportunities for the video game realm and has contributed to many new
competitions. Some of these competitions include the Stem National
Game Competition and the Imagine Cup. Both of these
bring a focus to relevant and important current issues through gaming.
www.NobelPrize.org entices the user to learn about information
pertaining to the Nobel prize achievements while engaging in a fun
video game. There are many different types and styles of
educational games, including counting to spelling to games for kids,
to games for adults. Some other games do not have any particular
targeted audience in mind and intended to simply educate or inform
whoever views or plays the game.
A North American Super NES game controller from the early 1990s
Video game can use several types of input devices to translate human
actions to a game, the most common game controllers are keyboard and
mouse for "PC games, consoles usually come with specific gamepads,
handheld consoles have built in buttons. Other game controllers are
commonly used for specific games like racing wheels, light guns or
dance pads. Digital cameras can also be used as game controllers
capturing movements of the body of the player.
As technology continues to advance, more can be added onto the
controller to give the player a more immersive experience when playing
different games. There are some controllers that have presets so that
the buttons are mapped a certain way to make playing certain games
easier. Along with the presets, a player can sometimes custom map the
buttons to better accommodate their play style. On keyboard and mouse,
different actions in the game are already preset to keys on the
keyboard. Most games allow the player to change that so that the
actions are mapped to different keys that are more to their liking.
The companies that design the controllers are trying to make the
controller visually appealing and also feel comfortable in the hands
of the consumer.
An example of a technology that was incorporated into the controller
was the touchscreen. It allows the player to be able to interact with
the game differently than before. The person could move around in
menus easier and they are also able to interact with different objects
in the game. They can pick up some objects, equip others, or even just
move the objects out of the players path. Another example is motion
sensor where a persons movement is able to be captured and put into a
game. Some motion sensor games are based on where the controller is.
The reason for that is because there is a signal that is sent from the
controller to the console or computer so that the actions being done
can create certain movements in the game. Other type of motion sensor
games are webcam style where the player moves around in front of it,
and the actions are repeated by a game character.
Video game industry practices
Developers use various tools to create video games. Here an editor is
fine-tuning the virtual camera system.
Video game development
Video game development and authorship, much like any other form of
entertainment, is frequently a cross-disciplinary field.
developers, as employees within this industry are commonly referred,
primarily include programmers and graphic designers. Over the years
this has expanded to include almost every type of skill that one might
see prevalent in the creation of any movie or television program,
including sound designers, musicians, and other technicians; as well
as skills that are specific to video games, such as the game designer.
All of these are managed by producers.
In the early days of the industry, it was more common for a single
person to manage all of the roles needed to create a video game. As
platforms have become more complex and powerful in the type of
material they can present, larger teams have been needed to generate
all of the art, programming, cinematography, and more. This is not to
say that the age of the "one-man shop" is gone, as this is still
sometimes found in the casual gaming and handheld markets, where
smaller games are prevalent due to technical limitations such as
RAM or lack of dedicated 3D graphics rendering capabilities on
the target platform (e.g., some cellphones and PDAs).
With the growth of the size of development teams in the industry, the
problem of cost has increased. Development studios need to be able to
pay their staff a competitive wage in order to attract and retain the
best talent, while publishers are constantly looking to keep costs
down in order to maintain profitability on their investment.
Typically, a video game console development team can range in sizes of
anywhere from 5 to 50 people, with some teams exceeding 100. In May
2009, one game project was reported to have a development staff of
450. The growth of team size combined with greater pressure to get
completed projects into the market to begin recouping production costs
has led to a greater occurrence of missed deadlines, rushed games and
the release of unfinished products.
Main article: Downloadable content
A phenomenon of additional game content at a later date, often for
additional funds, began with digital video game distribution known as
downloadable content (DLC). Developers can use digital distribution to
issue new storylines after the main game is released, such as Rockstar
Grand Theft Auto IV
Grand Theft Auto IV (The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of
Gay Tony), or Bethesda with
Fallout 3 and its expansions. New gameplay
modes can also become available, for instance,
Call of Duty
Call of Duty and its
zombie modes, a multiplayer mode for
Mushroom Wars or a
higher difficulty level for Metro: Last Light. Smaller packages of DLC
are also common, ranging from better in-game weapons (Dead Space, Just
Cause 2), character outfits (LittleBigPlanet, Minecraft), or new songs
to perform (SingStar, Rock Band, Guitar Hero).
Main article: Expansion pack
A variation of downloadable content is expansion packs. Unlike DLC,
expansion packs add a whole section to the game that either already
exists in the game's code or is developed after the game is released.
Expansions add new maps, missions, weapons, and other things that
weren't previously accessible in the original game. An example of an
expansion is Bungie's Destiny, which had the Rise of Iron expansion.
The expansion added new weapons, new maps, and higher levels, and
remade old missions.
Expansions are added to the base game to help prolong the life of the
game itself until the company is able to produce a sequel or a new
game altogether. Developers may plan out their game's life and already
have the code for the expansion in the game, but inaccessible by
players, who later unlock these expansions, sometimes for free and
sometimes at an extra cost. Some developers make games and add
expansions later, so that they could see what additions the players
would like to have. There are also expansions that are set apart from
the original game and are considered a stand-alone game, such as
Ubisoft's expansion Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Freedom's Cry,
which features a different character than the original game.
Main article: Mod (computer gaming)
Many games produced for the PC are designed such that technically
oriented consumers can modify the game. These mods can add an extra
dimension of replayability and interest. Developers such as id
Software, Valve Corporation, Crytek, Bethesda,
Epic Games and Blizzard
Entertainment ship their games with some of the development tools used
to make the game, along with documentation to assist mod developers.
The Internet provides an inexpensive medium to promote and distribute
mods, and they may be a factor in the commercial success of some
games. This allows for the kind of success seen by popular mods
such as the Half-Life mod Counter-Strike.
Main article: Cheating (video games)
Cheating in computer games may involve cheat codes and hidden spots
implemented by the game developers, modification of game code
by third parties, or players exploiting a software glitch.
Modifications are facilitated by either cheat cartridge hardware or a
software trainer. Cheats usually make the game easier by providing
an unlimited amount of some resource; for example weapons, health, or
ammunition; or perhaps the ability to walk through walls.
Other cheats might give access to otherwise unplayable levels or
provide unusual or amusing features, like altered game colors or other
Main article: Glitch
Software errors not detected by software testers during development
can find their way into released versions of computer and video games.
This may happen because the glitch only occurs under unusual
circumstances in the game, was deemed too minor to correct, or because
the game development was hurried to meet a publication deadline.
Glitches can range from minor graphical errors to serious bugs that
can delete saved data or cause the game to malfunction. In some cases
publishers will release updates (referred to as patches) to repair
glitches. Sometimes a glitch may be beneficial to the player; these
are often referred to as exploits.
Easter eggs are hidden messages or jokes left in games by developers
that are not part of the main game. Easter eggs are secret
responses that occur as a result of an undocumented set of commands.
The results can vary from a simple printed message or image, to a page
of programmer credits or a small videogame hidden inside an otherwise
serious piece of software. Videogame cheat codes are a specific type
of Easter egg, in which entering a secret command will unlock special
powers or new levels for the player.
Although departments of computer science have been studying the
technical aspects of video games for years, theories that examine
games as an artistic medium are a relatively recent development in the
humanities. The two most visible schools in this emerging field are
ludology and narratology. Narrativists approach video games in the
context of what
Janet Murray calls "Cyberdrama". That is to say, their
major concern is with video games as a storytelling medium, one that
arises out of interactive fiction. Murray puts video games in the
context of the Holodeck, a fictional piece of technology from Star
Trek, arguing for the video game as a medium in which the player is
allowed to become another person, and to act out in another world.
This image of video games received early widespread popular support,
and forms the basis of films such as Tron, eXistenZ and The Last
Ludologists break sharply and radically from this idea. They argue
that a video game is first and foremost a game, which must be
understood in terms of its rules, interface, and the concept of play
that it deploys.
Espen J. Aarseth argues that, although games
certainly have plots, characters, and aspects of traditional
narratives, these aspects are incidental to gameplay. For example,
Aarseth is critical of the widespread attention that narrativists have
given to the heroine of the game Tomb Raider, saying that "the
dimensions of Lara Croft's body, already analyzed to death by film
theorists, are irrelevant to me as a player, because a
different-looking body would not make me play differently... When I
play, I don't even see her body, but see through it and past it."
Simply put, ludologists reject traditional theories of art because
they claim that the artistic and socially relevant qualities of a
video game are primarily determined by the underlying set of rules,
demands, and expectations imposed on the player.
While many games rely on emergent principles, video games commonly
present simulated story worlds where emergent behavior occurs within
the context of the game. The term "emergent narrative" has been used
to describe how, in a simulated environment, storyline can be created
simply by "what happens to the player." However, emergent behavior
is not limited to sophisticated games. In general, any place where
event-driven instructions occur for AI in a game, emergent behavior
will exist. For instance, take a racing game in which cars are
programmed to avoid crashing, and they encounter an obstacle in the
track: the cars might then maneuver to avoid the obstacle causing the
cars behind them to slow and/or maneuver to accommodate the cars in
front of them and the obstacle. The programmer never wrote code to
specifically create a traffic jam, yet one now exists in the game.
Video game console
Video game console emulator
Nintendo 64 emulator, running
Star Fox 64
Star Fox 64 on a Windows 8
An emulator is a program that replicates the behavior of a video game
console, allowing games to run on a different platform from the
original hardware. Emulators exist for PCs, smartphones and consoles
other than the original. Emulators are generally used to play old
games, hack existing games, translate unreleased games in a specific
region, or add enhanced features to games like improved graphics,
speed up or down, bypass regional lockouts, or online multiplayer
Some manufacturers have released official emulators for their own
consoles. For example, Nintendo's
Virtual Console allows users to play
games for old
Nintendo consoles on the Wii,
Wii U, and 3DS. Virtual
Console is part of Nintendo's strategy for deterring video game
piracy. In November 2015,
Microsoft launched backwards
Xbox 360 games on
Xbox One console via emulation.
Sony announced relaunching PS2 games on PS4 via emulation.
Sony Computer Entertainment America v. Bleem, creating an
emulator for a proprietary video game console is legal. However,
Nintendo claims that emulators promote the distribution of illegally
Gamer § Demographics
The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a
worldwide view of the subject. You may improve this article, discuss
the issue on the talk page, or create a new article, as appropriate.
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The November 2005 Nielsen Active
Gamer Study, taking a survey of 2,000
regular gamers, found that the U.S. games market is diversifying. The
age group among male players has expanded significantly in the 25–40
age group. For casual online puzzle-style and simple mobile cell phone
games, the gender divide is more or less equal between men and women.
More recently there has been a growing segment of female players
engaged with the aggressive style of games historically considered to
fall within traditionally male genres (e.g., first-person shooters).
According to the ESRB, almost 41% of PC gamers are women.
Participation among African-Americans is lower. One survey of over
2000 game developers returned responses from only 2.5% who identified
See also: Women and video games
See also: Race and video games
When comparing today's industry climate with that of 20 years ago,
women and many adults are more inclined to be using products in the
industry. While the market for teen and young adult men is still a
strong market, it is the other demographics which are posting
significant growth. The
Entertainment Software Association
Entertainment Software Association (ESA)
provides the following summary for 2011 based on a study of almost
1,200 American households carried out by Ipsos MediaCT:
The average gamer is 30 years old and has been playing for 12 years.
Eighty-two percent of gamers are 18 years of age or older.
Forty-two percent of all players are women and women over 18 years of
age are one of the industry's fastest growing demographics.
Twenty-nine percent of game players are over the age of 50, an
increase from nine percent in 1999.
Sixty-five percent of gamers play games with other gamers in person.
Fifty-five percent of gamers play games on their phones or handheld
A 2006 academic study, based on a survey answered by 10,000 gamers,
identified the gaymers (gamers that identify as gay) as a demographic
group. A follow-up survey in 2009 studied the purchase
habits and content preferences of people in the group.
Based on the study by NPD group in 2011, approximately 91 percent of
children aged 2–17 play games.
Video game culture
Video game culture is a worldwide new media subculture formed around
video games and game playing. As computer and video games have
increased in popularity over time, they have had a significant
influence on popular culture.
Video game culture has also evolved over
time hand in hand with internet culture as well as the increasing
popularity of mobile games. Many people who play video games identify
as gamers, which can mean anything from someone who enjoys games to
someone who is passionate about it. As video games become more social
with multiplayer and online capability, gamers find themselves in
growing social networks. Gaming can both be entertainment as well as
competition, as a new trend known as electronic sports is becoming
more widely accepted. In the 2010s, video games and discussions of
video game trends and topics can be seen in social media, politics,
television, film and music.
Main article: Multiplayer video game
Video gaming has traditionally been a social experience. Multiplayer
video games are those that can be played either competitively,
sometimes in Electronic Sports, or cooperatively by using either
multiple input devices, or by hotseating. Tennis for Two, arguably the
first video game, was a two player game, as was its successor Pong.
The first commercially available game console, the Magnavox Odyssey,
had two controller inputs. Since then, most consoles have been shipped
with two or four controller inputs. Some have had the ability to
expand to four, eight or as many as 12 inputs with additional
adapters, such as the Multitap. Multiplayer arcade games typically
feature play for two to four players, sometimes tilting the monitor on
its back for a top-down viewing experience allowing players to sit
opposite one another.
Many early computer games for non-PC descendant based platforms
featured multiplayer support.
Personal computer systems from
Commodore both regularly featured at least two game ports. PC-based
computer games started with a lower availability of multiplayer
options because of technical limitations. PCs typically had either one
or no game ports at all. Network games for these early personal
computers were generally limited to only text based adventures or MUDs
that were played remotely on a dedicated server. This was due both to
the slow speed of modems (300-1200-bit/s), and the prohibitive cost
involved with putting a computer online in such a way where multiple
visitors could make use of it. However, with the advent of widespread
local area networking technologies and Internet based online
capabilities, the number of players in modern games can be 32 or
higher, sometimes featuring integrated text and/or voice chat.
Massively multiplayer online game
Massively multiplayer online game (MMOs) can offer extremely high
numbers of simultaneous players;
Eve Online set a record with 65,303
players on a single server in 2013.
Video game behavioral effects
It has been shown that action video game players have better
hand–eye coordination and visuo-motor skills, such as their
resistance to distraction, their sensitivity to information in the
peripheral vision and their ability to count briefly presented
objects, than nonplayers. Researchers found that such enhanced
abilities could be acquired by training with action games, involving
challenges that switch attention between different locations, but not
with games requiring concentration on single objects. It has been
suggested by a few studies that online/offline video gaming can be
used as a therapeutic tool in the treatment of different mental health
In Steven Johnson's book, Everything Bad Is Good for You, he argues
that video games in fact demand far more from a player than
traditional games like Monopoly. To experience the game, the player
must first determine the objectives, as well as how to complete them.
They must then learn the game controls and how the human-machine
interface works, including menus and HUDs. Beyond such skills, which
after some time become quite fundamental and are taken for granted by
many gamers, video games are based upon the player navigating (and
eventually mastering) a highly complex system with many variables.
This requires a strong analytical ability, as well as flexibility and
adaptability. He argues that the process of learning the boundaries,
goals, and controls of a given game is often a highly demanding one
that calls on many different areas of cognitive function. Indeed, most
games require a great deal of patience and focus from the player, and,
contrary to the popular perception that games provide instant
gratification, games actually delay gratification far longer than
other forms of entertainment such as film or even many books. Some
research suggests video games may even increase players' attention
Learning principles found in video games have been identified as
possible techniques with which to reform the U.S. education
system. It has been noticed that gamers adopt an attitude while
playing that is of such high concentration, they do not realize they
are learning, and that if the same attitude could be adopted at
school, education would enjoy significant benefits. Students are
found to be "learning by doing" while playing video games while
fostering creative thinking.
The U.S. Army has deployed machines such as the
PackBot and UAV
vehicles, which make use of a game-style hand controller to make it
more familiar for young people. According to research discussed at
the 2008 Convention of the American Psychological Association, certain
types of video games can improve the gamers' dexterity as well as
their ability to do problem solving. A study of 33 laparoscopic
surgeons found that those who played video games were 27 percent
faster at advanced surgical procedures and made 37 percent fewer
errors compared to those who did not play video games. A second study
of 303 laparoscopic surgeons (82 percent men; 18 percent women) also
showed that surgeons who played video games requiring spatial skills
and hand dexterity and then performed a drill testing these skills
were significantly faster at their first attempt and across all 10
trials than the surgeons who did not play the video games first.
An experiment carried out by Richard De Lisi and Jennifer Woldorf
demonstrates the positive effect that video games may have on spatial
skills. De Lisi and Woldorf took two groups of third graders, one
control group and one experiment group. Both groups took a
paper-and-pencil test of mental rotation skills. After this test, the
experiment group only played 11 sessions of the game Tetris. This game
was chosen as it requires mental rotation. After this game, both
groups took the test again. The result showed that the scores of the
experiment group raised higher than that of the control group, thereby
confirming this theory.
The research showing benefits from action games has been questioned
due to methodological shortcomings, such as recruitment strategies and
selection bias, potential placebo effects, and lack of baseline
improvements in control groups. In addition, many of the studies
are cross-sectional, and of the longitudinal interventional trials,
not all have found effects. A response to this pointed out that
the skill improvements from action games are more broad than
predicted, such as mental rotation, which is not a common task in
action games. Action gamers are not only better at ignoring
distractions, but also at focusing on the main task.
Objections to video games
Video game controversies
Like other media, such as rock music (notably heavy metal music and
gangsta rap), video games have been the subject of objections,
controversies and censorship, for instance because of depictions of
violence, criminal activities, sexual themes, alcohol, tobacco and
other drugs, propaganda, profanity or advertisements. Critics of video
games include parents' groups, politicians, religious groups,
scientists and other advocacy groups. Claims that some video games
cause addiction or violent behavior continue to be made and to be
There have been a number of societal and scientific arguments about
whether the content of video games change the behavior and attitudes
of a player, and whether this is reflected in video game culture
overall. Since the early 1980s, advocates of video games have
emphasized their use as an expressive medium, arguing for their
protection under the laws governing freedom of speech and also as an
educational tool. Detractors argue that video games are harmful and
therefore should be subject to legislative oversight and restrictions.
The positive and negative characteristics and effects of video games
are the subject of scientific study. Results of investigations into
links between video games and addiction, aggression, violence, social
development, and a variety of stereotyping and sexual morality issues
are debated. A study was done that showed that young people who
have had a greater exposure to violence in video games ended up
behaving more aggressively towards people in a social environment.
In spite of the negative effects of video games, certain studies
indicate that they may have value in terms of academic performance,
perhaps because of the skills that are developed in the process.
“When you play ... games you’re solving puzzles to move to the
next level and that involves using some of the general knowledge and
skills in maths, reading and science that you’ve been taught during
the day,” said Alberto Posso an Associate Professor at the Royal
Melbourne Institute of Technology, after analysing data from the
results of standardized testing completed by over 12,000 high school
students across Australia. As summarized by The Guardian, the
study (published in the International Journal of Communication) "found
that students who played online games almost every day scored 15
points above average in maths and reading tests and 17 points above
average in science." However, the reporter added an important comment
that was not provided by some of the numerous Web sites that published
a brief summary of the Australian study: "[the] methodology cannot
prove that playing video games were the cause of the improvement." The
Guardian also reported that a Columbia University study indicated that
extensive video gaming by students in the 6 to 11 age group provided a
greatly increased chance of high intellectual functioning and overall
In an interview with CNN, Edward Castronova, a professor of
Telecommunications at Indiana University Bloomington said he was not
surprised by the outcome of the Australian study but also discussed
the issue of causal connection. "Though there is a link between gaming
and higher math and science scores, it doesn't mean playing games
caused the higher scores. It could just be that kids who are sharp are
looking for a challenge, and they don't find it on social media, and
maybe they do find it on board games and video games," he
Video games have also been proven to raise self-esteem and build
confidence. It gives people an opportunity to do things that they
cannot do offline, and to discover new things about themselves. There
is a social aspect to gaming as well – research has shown that a
third of video game players make good friends online. As well as that,
video games are also considered to be therapeutic as it helps to
relieve stress. Although short term, studies have shown that
children with developmental delays gain a temporary physical
improvement in health when they interact and play video games on a
regular, and consistent basis due to the cognitive benefits and the
use of hand eye coordination.
Ratings and censorship
The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with
Western culture and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
You may improve this article, discuss the issue on the talk page, or
create a new article, as appropriate. (September 2014) (Learn how and
when to remove this template message)
Video game content rating system
A typical ESRB rating label, listing the rating and specific content
descriptors for Rabbids Go Home
Entertainment Software Rating Board
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) gives video games
maturity ratings based on their content. For example, a game might be
rated "T" for "Teen" if the game contained obscene words or violence.
If a game contains explicit violence or sexual themes, it is likely to
receive an M for "Mature" rating, which means that no one under 17
should play it. The rating "A/O", for "Adults Only", indicates games
with massive violence or nudity. There are no laws that prohibit
children from purchasing "M" rated games in the United States. Laws
attempting to prohibit minors from purchasing "M" rated games were
established in California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and
Louisiana, but all were overturned on the grounds that these laws
violated the First Amendment. However, many stores have opted to
not sell such games to children anyway.
Video game laws vary from
country to country. One of the most controversial games of all time,
Manhunt 2 by Rockstar Studios, was given an AO rating by the ESRB
until Rockstar could make the content more suitable for a mature
Video game manufacturers usually exercise tight control over
the games that are made available on their systems, so unusual or
special-interest games are more likely to appear as PC games. Free,
casual, and browser-based games are usually played on available
computers, mobile phones, tablet computers or PDAs.
Pan European Game Information
Pan European Game Information (PEGI) is a system that was developed to
standardize the game ratings in all of Europe (not just European
Union, although the majority are EU members), the current members are:
all EU members, except Germany and the 10 accession states; Norway;
Switzerland. Iceland is expected to join soon, as are the 10 EU
accession states. For all PEGI members, they use it as their sole
system, with the exception of the UK, where if a game contains certain
material, it must be rated by BBFC. The PEGI ratings are legally
Vienna and it is a criminal offence to sell a game to
someone if it is rated above their age.
Germany: BPjM and USK
Stricter game rating laws mean that Germany does not operate within
the PEGI. Instead, they adopt their own system of certification which
is required by law. The
Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK or
Voluntary Certification of Entertainment Software) checks every game
before release and assigns an age rating to it – either none
(white), 6 years of age (yellow), 12 years of age (green), 16 years of
age (blue) or 18 years of age (red). It is forbidden for anyone,
retailers, friends or parents alike, to allow a child access to a game
for which he or she is underage. If a game is considered to be harmful
to young people (for example because of extremely violent,
pornographic or racist content), it may be referred to the BPjM
Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien
Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien – Federal
Verification Office for Child-Endangering Media) who may opt to place
it on the Index upon which the game may not be sold openly or
advertised in the open media. Such indexed games are not "banned" and
can still be legally obtained by adults, but it is considered a felony
to supply these games to a child.
Video game industry, List of best-selling video games, and
Golden age of arcade video games
A retail display with a large selection of games for platforms popular
in the early 2000s
According to the market research firm SuperData, as of May 2015, the
global games market was worth USD 74.2 billion. By region, North
America accounted for $23.6 billion, Asia for $23.1 billion, Europe
for $22.1 billion and South America for $4.5 billion. By market
segment, mobile games were worth $22.3 billion, retail games 19.7
billion, free-to-play MMOs 8.7 billion, social games $7.9 billion, PC
DLC 7.5 billion, and other categories $3 billion or less each.
In the United States, also according to SuperData, the share of video
games in the entertainment market grew from 5% in 1985 to 13% in 2015,
becoming the third-largest market segment behind broadcast and cable
television. The research firm anticipated that Asia would soon
overtake North America as the largest video game market due to the
strong growth of free-to-play and mobile games.
Sales of different types of games vary widely between countries due to
local preferences. Japanese consumers tend to purchase much more
console games than computer games, with a strong preference for games
catering to local tastes. Another key difference is
that, despite the decline of arcades in the West, arcade games remain
an important sector of the Japanese gaming industry. In South
Korea, computer games are generally preferred over console games,
especially MMORPG games and real-time strategy games. Computer games
are also popular in China.
See also: List of gaming conventions
The gamescom fair in Cologne
Gaming conventions are an important showcase of the industry. The
annual gamescom in
Cologne in August is the world's leading expo for
video games in attendance. The E3 in June in Los Angeles is also
of global importance, but is an event for industry insiders only.
Tokyo Game Show
Tokyo Game Show in September is the main fair in Asia. Other
notable conventions and trade fairs include
Brasil Game Show
Brasil Game Show in
Paris Games Week
Paris Games Week in October–November, EB Games Expo
(Australia) in October, KRI, ChinaJoy in July and the annual Game
Developers Conference. Some publishers, developers and technology
producers also host their own regular conventions, with BlizzCon,
Nvision and the X shows being prominent examples.
Main article: eSports
Short for electronic sports, are video game competitions played most
by professional players individually or in teams that gained
popularity from the late 2000s, the most common genres are fighting,
first-person shooter (FPS), multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) and
real-time strategy. There are certain games that are made for just
competitive multiplayer purposes. With those type of games, players
focus entirely one choosing the right character or obtaining the right
equipment in the game to help them when facing other players.
Tournaments are held so that people in the area or from different
regions can play against other players of the same game and see who is
Major League Gaming
Major League Gaming (MLG) is a company that reports
tournaments that are held across the country. The players that compete
in these tournaments are given a rank depending on their skill level
in the game that they choose to play in and face other players that
play that game. The players that also compete are mostly called
professional players for the fact that they have played the game they
are competing in for many, long hours. Those players have been able to
come up with different strategies for facing different characters. The
professional players are able to pick a character to their liking and
be able to master how to use that character very effectively. With
strategy games, players tend to know how to get resources quick and
are able to make quick decisions about where their troops are to be
deployed and what kind of troops to create.
Copyright of video games
Main article: Copyright and video games
Creators will nearly always copyright their games. Laws that define
copyright, and the rights that are conveyed over a video game, vary
from country to country. Usually a fair use copyright clause allows
consumers some ancillary rights, such as for a player of the game to
stream a game online. This is a vague area in copyright law, as these
laws predate the advent of video games. This means that rightsholders
often must define what they will allow a consumer to do with the video
Gaming consoles at the Computer Games Museum in Berlin
There are many video game museums around the world, including the
National Videogame Museum
National Videogame Museum in Frisco, Texas, which serves as the
largest museum wholly dedicated to the display and preservation of the
industry's most important artifacts. Europe hosts video game
museums such as the Computer Games Museum in Berlin and the
Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines
Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines in Moscow and
Saint-Petersburg. The Museum of Art and Digital
Oakland, California is a dedicated video game museum
focusing on playable exhibits of console and computer games. The
Game Museum of Rome is also dedicated to preserving video games
and their history. The International Center for the History of
Electronic Games at
The Strong in
Rochester, New York
Rochester, New York contains one of
the largest collections of electronic games and game-related
historical materials in the world, including a 5,000-square-foot
(460 m2) exhibit which allows guests to play their way through
the history of video games. The Smithsonian Institution
in Washington, D.C. has three video games on permanent display:
Pac-Man, Dragon's Lair, and Pong.
Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art has added a total of 20 video games and one
video game console to its permanent Architecture and Design Collection
since 2012. In 2012, the
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Smithsonian American Art Museum ran
an exhibition on "The Art of
Video Games". However, the reviews
of the exhibit were mixed, including questioning whether video games
belong in an art museum.
Video games portal
Lists of video games
List of accessories to video games by system
Outline of video games
Video game addiction
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