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A game is a voluntary activity with rules and some sought-after outcome. A video game is a game played on some electronic device. Computer or video games have been around since at least 1962, when MIT student Steve Russell programmed Spacewar! There was no keyboard, no joystick, and no sound; instead users toggled built-in switches to move the rocket ships. Ten years later, Nolan Bushnell, Atari founder, successfully introduced a version of Pong (electronic Ping-Pong). The first home console units were introduced in the 1970s and the well-known arcade game PacMan was introduced in 1980, followed by Donkey Kong in 1981.
A 2013 Entertainment Software Association report shows that in 2012, the video game industry in the US saw about US$23 billion in sales. Video games are often classified into casual, serious, and educational games with casual ones being by far in the lead. Puzzle, board, card, trivia games or game shows are the most often online games played. Players use consoles, computers, and mobile devices for playing video games. The increased capacity in data transfer on the Internet increased the market share of online games where players in distant places compete or cooperate in games of all kinds (e.g. Minecraft). People wo have increased their time spent with video games report that they reduced the time spent with (non-digital) board games, watching TV, and going to the movies. In 2013, the average age of video game players in the US was 30 years and, almost half were women. Gamers are not anymore sitting in a dark room at home: 36 percent are playing on their smartphone and 25 percent on a wireless device (Entertainment Software Association 2013).
Video games have influenced movies, too. One of the earliest movies based on a video game was Super Mario Brothers. No less than 16 Pokemon movies, based on Nintendo’s video game have been released in the United States. The most successful movie on the international market was Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time, based on a game by Ubisoft, that grossed more than US$300 million.
The amount of attention paid to video games as a part of popular culture is mirrored by the attention paid by academics to video games and the effects they have on the people who play games. Research on the effects of playing video games has either concentrated on the production of aggression and hostility, or on positive effects like cognitive, social, emotional and motivational benefits (Granic et al. 2014).
- Entertainment Software Association (2013). 2013 sales, demographic and usage data. Essential facts about the computer and video game industry. At www. theesa.com/facts/pdfs/esa_ef_2013.pdf, accessed August 28, 2014.
- Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. American Psychologist, 69(1), 66–78.
- Shafer, D. M. (2012). Causes of state hostility and enjoyment in player versus player and player versus environment video games. Journal of Communication, 62, 719–737.
- Shaw, A. (2013). Rethinking game studies: A case study approach to video game play and identification. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 30(5), 347–361.