Generations of Video Game System: Defying the Way we Define Entertainment
Entertainment takes its new form. With the development of technology and its integration to various aspects of our lives, traditional entertainment such as theatrical plays and cultural shows is replaced by so-called “electronic entertainment”. There you have various digital and animated films that you can watch on movie houses or on your home entertainment system, cable television system (CTS), and the video game system, which is popular not just to young and old gamers alike but also to game developers, merely because of the development of innovative technologies that they can use to improve existing game systems.
The video game system is intended for playing video games, though there are modern game systems that allows you to have an access over other forms of entertainment using such game systems (like watching DVD movies, listening to MP3 music files, or surfing the Internet). Thus, it is often referred to as “interactive entertainment computer” to distinguish the game system from a machine that is used for various functions (such as personal computer and arcade games).
The first generation of video game system started when Magnavox (an electronics company which manufactures televisions, radios, and gramophones or record players) released its first video game system, which is the Magnavox Odyssey designed by Ralph Baer. Odyssey’s popularity lasted until the release of Atari’s PONG video games. Magnavox realized that they cannot compete with the popularity of PONG games, thus in 1975 they created the Odyssey 100 video game system that will play Atari-produced PONG games.
The second generation of video game system came a year after the release of Odyssey 100. In 1976, Fairchild released the FVES (Fairchild Video Entertainment System), which made use of a programmable microprocessor so that a game cartridge can hold a single ROM chip to save microprocessor instructions. However, because of the “video game crash” in 1977, Fairchild abandoned the video game system industry. Magnavox and Atari stayed in the video game industry.
The rebirth of the video game system started when Atari released the popular arcade Space Invaders. The industry was suddenly revived, with many gamers made purchase of an Atari video game system just for Space Invaders. In other words, with the popularity of Space Invaders, Atari dominated the video game industry throughout the 80s.
Video game system’s third generation came into being after the release of Nintendo’s Famicon in 1983. It supported full color, high resolution, and tiled background gaming system. It was initially launched in Japan and it was later brought to the United States in the form of Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985. And just like Atari’s Space Invaders, the release of Nintendo’s famous Super Mario Brothers was a big success, which completely revived the suffering video game system industry in the early months of 1983.
Sega intended to compete with Nintendo, but they failed to establish substantial market share. It was until 1988 when Sega released the Sega Genesis in Japan on October 29 of the same year and on September 1, 1989 in the United States and Europe territories. Two years later, Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1990.
Atari came back with their new video game system, which is the Jaguar and 3DO. Both systems could display more onscreen colors and the latter made use of a CD instead of game cartridges, making it more powerful compared to Genesis and SNES. Nintendo, on the other hand, opted to release new games such as Donkey Kong Country instead of producing new video game systems. Sega’s Vectorman and Virtua Racing followed suit. Several years later, Sony, Sega, and Nintendo released the fifth generation of video game systems (PlayStation, Saturn, and N64, respectively).
The sixth generation of game systems followed, involving Sega (Dreamcast, which was their last video game system and the first Internet-ready game system), Sony (PlayStation 2), Nintendo (Game Cube which is their first system to make use of game CDs), and the newcomer Microsoft (Xbox).
The latest generation of video game systems is now slowly entering the game industry. These are as follows:
• Microsoft’s Xbox, which was released on November 22, 2005;
• Sony’s PlayStation 3, which is schedule to be released on November 11, 2006 (Japan), November 17 of the same year (North America), and March 2007 (Europe); and
• Nintendo’s Wii, which is scheduled to be released on November 19, 2006 (North America), December 2 of the same year (Japan), December 7 (Australia), and December 8 (Europe).
The development of video game system does not end here. There will be future generations of game system being developed as of this moment, which will defy the way we define “entertainment”.