Video Games Day
Also known as
National Video Games Day
annually on July 8th (1991 to 1993)
annually on July 12th (1994 to 1995)
on September 10th (1996)
annually on September 12th (since 1997)
There are many ways video games can be played—on arcade games, home consoles, handheld consoles, or mobile devices—and their popularity has not waned since they went on the market in the 1970s. Video Games Day dates back to 1991 when it began being held each July. It was listed in Chase's Calendar of Events and was initially sponsored by David Earle of "Kid Vid Warriors" or "Kid Video Warriors." In 1996, it began being observed in September, and by the following year, David Earle's name was no longer associated with the holiday. Some holiday websites list a video game holiday in July and September, but only the September holiday is correct.
Scientists in the 1950s and '60s experimented with the creation of games that were the forerunners of video games. The first commercial arcade game, Computer Space, was released in 1971 by Nutting Associates. Its two creators, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, went on to create Atari. They released the arcade game Pong in 1972.
Also in 1972, Magnavox released the first video game system for home use. Designed in 1967 by Ralph Baer, who became known as "the father of home video games," the multiplayer and multi-program prototype console was known as the Brown Box. It became known as the Odyssey after Baer licensed it to Magnavox. It was priced at $100, and after the first year, 100,000 units had been sold.
Video games reached more milestones in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Atari released a home edition of Pong in 1975. They debuted the Atari Video Computer System in 1977, which was later renamed Atari 2600. It was the touchstone console of the era and was in production until 1992. Many important games were released during the time as well. Space Invaders was released in 1978, and Pac-Man was created in Japan and introduced in 1980. Donkey Kong debuted in 1981, and was the first game to feature the character, Mario.
In 1983, a video game "crash" came about because of oversaturation of different types of consoles, competition from computers, and low-quality games. Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was released in the United States in 1985, helping consumers move past the crash. It had 8-bit graphics and other improvements from previous consoles. Important video game franchises that are still successful such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda debuted with the NES. In 1989, the 16-bit Sega Genesis hit the shelves. Nintendo fired back with their own 16-bit console in 1991—Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Nintendo also pioneered handheld video games by releasing the Game Boy in 1989. This was followed with the Game Boy Color in 1998, Nintendo DS in 2004, and Nintendo 3DS in 2011.
What is known as the fifth generation of video games, which used computer technology and had three-dimensional characters, came about in the mid-1990s. Sega Saturn was released in 1995. This 32-bit system used CDs instead of cartridges. Sony Playstation was released in North America in the same year. In 1996, the 64-bit Nintendo 64 was released. Of these three, Playstation was the most successful. It was followed up in 2000 by Playstation 2, the first console that used DVDs. Sega released Dreamcast in 1999, Nintendo Gamecube was released in 2001, and Microsoft launched Xbox in 2001. Although gaming critics thought Dreamcast was a great system, it flopped, and Sega discontinued it and the making of consoles in 2001.
In the mid-2000s, Playstation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii were all released. The Xbox 360 was known for its online gaming capabilities, while the Wii, with its motion-sensitive controllers, was the most popular of the three when it came to sales. The eighth generation of video game consoles included the Nintendo Wii U, released in 2012 and discontinued in 2017, and Playstation 4 and Xbox One, released in 2013. By the 2010s, gaming had also spread to social media sites and mobile devices. Today we celebrate all video games, no matter what era they are from, or on what format they are played.
How to Observe
Of course, the best way to celebrate the day is to play video games, and there are many ways this can be done. There are various other ways you could celebrate the day as well. Here are some ideas for a fun-filled Video Games Day:
- Play some of the video games that are known as being the best ever.
- Dust off your old consoles that have been packed away, and play some games you played when you were younger.
- Play old video games online.
- Spend the day playing video games with friends.
- Pick up a new video game for whatever console you currently use.
- Join an online gaming community.
- Go to a video game arcade.
- Watch a film based on a video game, or read a book about video games.
- Visit a museum dedicated to video games, such as The National Museum of Play—which houses the World Video Game Hall of Fame and the International Center for the History of Electronic Games—or the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment.
- Support the Video Game History Foundation.