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What is a video game?

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 4, Xbox One and Nintendo 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, and buttons, or even, with the Kinect sensor, a person's hands and body. 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, in the 2010s, voice actor lines which come from loudspeakers or headphones. Some games in the 2000s include haptic, vibration-creating effects, force feedback peripherals and virtual reality headsets. In the 2010s, the video game industry is of increasing commercial importance, with growth driven particularly by the emerging Asian markets and mobile games, which are played on smartphones. 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.

History

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.[1] 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.[2] 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,[3] OXO used a graphical display to play tic-tac-toe[4] Tennis for Two used an oscilloscope to display a side view of a tennis court,[2] and Spacewar! used the DEC PDP-1's vector display to have two spaceships battle each other.[5]

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.[6] 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 called the "Brown Box", it also used a standard television.[2][7] 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.[8] The commercial success of Pong led numerous other companies to develop Pong clones and their own systems, spawning the video game industry.[9]

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,[10] marking the beginning of the golden age of arcade video games and inspiring dozens of manufacturers to enter the market.[10][11] The game inspired arcade machines to become prevalent in mainstream locations such as shopping malls, traditional storefronts, restaurants, and convenience stores.[12] 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.[13][14] Space Invaders was soon licensed for the Atari VCS (later known as Atari 2600), becoming the first "killer app" and quadrupling the console's sales.[15] This helped Atari recover from their earlier losses,[16] and in turn the Atari VCS revived the home video game market during the second generation of consoles, up until the North American video game crash of 1983.[17] The home video game industry was revitalized shortly afterwards by the widespread success of the Nintendo Entertainment System,[18] which marked a shift in the dominance of the video game industry from the United States to Japan during the third generation of consoles.[19]

Overview

Platforms

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.[20] 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.

PC

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,[21] 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.

Console

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.

Handheld

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 different games.

Arcade

"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.

Web browser

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 games.

Mobile

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 games.

Virtual Reality

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.

Block chains

A new platform of video games emerged in late 2017 in which users could take ownership of game assets (digital assets) using Blockchain technologies.[22] An example of this is Cryptokitties.[23]


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