Video Gaming Industry | History Behind the Video Gaming Industry

Gamer Ninja shares the history behind the Video Gaming Industry from the 1940s to the present day.

What is the Video Gaming Industry?

The best description of what the Video Gaming Industry is according to Wikipedia

“The video game industry is the economic sector involved in the development, marketing, and monetization of video games. It encompasses dozens of job disciplines and its parts employ thousands of people worldwide.”

The Video Gaming Industry, also known as the Video Game Industry, today cannot be described within a single sentence. It encompasses many areas but could be broken down into three primary categories. It has grown and expanded immensely in the last few decades.  No matter if you have played a video game or not, video games changed the way everyone lives their lives. Video games have a hold on pop culture and have a significant influence on children and adults.

  • Personal Computer (PC)
  • Console Gaming
  • Mobile

The “computer game” is where the video gaming concept originates. Some of the earliest computers game date back to the 1940s and 1950s. These older consoles used Cathode Ray Tube technology. Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) technology was used in the manufacturing of tube-type televisions and more recent modern CRT type computer monitors.

The Video Gaming Industry in the Seventies (First and Second-Generation Video Game Consoles)

In the seventies, the video gaming industry, as we know it today, started to come to life. The consoles from the beginning of the 1970s were considered the “First Generation” of video game consoles. Video gaming consoles that came out in the late seventies were known as the second generation of video game consoles.

Companies such as Computer Space and Atari are among the first video game pioneers in what we consider the modern-day Video Gaming Industry. Atari dominated the second half of the seventies with consoles such as the Atari VCS, or commonly known as the 2600 console.

Atari 2600 Gaming Console

This Atari 2600 console revolutionized the video gaming industry and forever set the bar as to what and how a video gaming console would be. The 2600 was released on September 11, 1977, and featured interchangeable game cartridge that allowed the 2600 to play different games and the games not having to be pre-built into its system. It was shipped with two joystick-style controls and a single game cartridge, which was Combat at first and but later became Pacman.

Atari 2600 Console Video Gaming Industry

Atari 2600 Console Gamer Ninja

Originally it was called the Atari VCS (Video Computer System), but the name was changed to Atari 2600 in November 1982 after Atari released the enhanced version named the Atari 5200. The Atari 2600 featured an 8-bit MOS Technology 6507 @ 1.19 MHz system with 128 bytes of RAM. It played ROM style cartridges and attached to any television made at the time. The 2600 retailed at $199.00 in 1977 and would be equivalent to $827.54 in 2018. Amazingly the Atari 2600 gaming console was in production until 1982. Throughout its life, the 2600 sold 30 million units and forever will go down as the “Console Champion” of all time for home gaming systems.


Pong Gaming Console

Almost equally as significant, the Pong video gaming console was a massive success in seventies video gaming. It revolutionized the Video Gaming Industry and captivated the masses in a way unseen ever before. Pong was an addictive video game, and players could find themselves captivated for hours on end.

Pong Console Seventies Video Gaming Industry

Pong Console from the Seventies mad by Sears

Pong is one of the first home video gaming systems offered to the public. Released it in 1972 by Atari, Pong featured simple two-dimensional graphics, but at the time, it was still considered revolutionary. Pong’s gaming consoles were affordable and easy to use, which made Pong a video game that required no knowledge to jump in and play. Pong was a table tennis style video game that two people played. Each player would have control of their “paddle” and would use the paddle to move a square block on the screen. A round ball would be set in motion, and the idea was to block the moving ball and defect it to an opponent’s goal area. The opponent would then return the ball by blocking it themselves. If they missed, the ball would go into the goal area, and a point would be awarded to the player who scored the goal.


Original Coleco Telstar Pong Game Commercial

Top Six Most Popular Video Games from the Seventies

  1. Space Invaders
  2. Pong
  3. Asteroids
  4. Tank/Combat
  5. Breakout
  6. Galaxian


The Top Ten Video Games from the Seventies

This video shares gameplay of the Top Ten Video Games from the Seventies to give reference to what they looked like. The Video Gaming Industry thrived throughout the 1970s with Atari coming out the clear winner when 1980 came to life.

The Video Gaming Industry in the Eighties (Second and Third Generation Video Game Consoles)

The 1980s were considered the “Golden Age” of video game console and video game. Home-based video gaming consoles became a household item. In the eighties, video games became something you did at home versus in an arcade. Coin-operated video games still saw significant growth during this time. Still, the concept of being able to bring the arcade video games home, allowing the gamer the ability to play without dropping in questers, was a marketing success.

At the beginning of the decade, Atari’s stranglehold on video gaming console sales was viewed as unstoppable. Due to slow advancement within video game development and console prices creeping beyond what people wanted to for them, 1983 saw a video gaming recession unlike seen previously. A slight drop during the late seventies occurred, but nothing like the plunge felt in 1983, which lasted till 1985.

The industry needed a change, and it indeed received one with the introduction of Nintendo. Nintendo took the Video Gaming Industry by storm. Once again, the gaming masses flocked out to retail stores (before Amazon) and were purchase an updated replacement console for their Atari 2600.

1985 saw a whole new way to play video games. Was Nintendo was merely in the right place at the right time? Ultimately, they were, but much of the 1983 video game downward spiral involved console and game prices being too high. When the original NES debuted on July 15th, 1985, with a hefty MSRP $179.99, equivalent to almost $500.00 in today’s money. The release of the original NES was so successful; the Super Mario Brothers game earned a place in the Guinness World Record book for sales.

Towards the end of the eighties, the Sega and Sony consoles became the focus of the video gaming industry.

Top Six Most Popular Video Games of the Eighties

  1. Pacman
  2. Mario Bros
  3. Donkey Kong
  4. Tetris
  5. Frogger


The Top Ten Video Games of the Eighties

This video shows the Top Ten Video Games of the Eighties so our viewers can see for themselves what the games looked like.

The 1980’s started the demand for better video game quality. The eighties came in with a severe demand for Video Games. The eighties went out with even a higher level of need for Video Games.

The Video Gaming Industry in the Nineties (Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Generation of Video Game Consoles)

The 1990s saw the most significant leap in advancement for the Video Gaming Industry. When it came to video game console advancement, graphics led the pack, along with size, processing power, speed, and price. In the 1990s, the youth, along with adults, were subject to so many video game consoles and video game options. People loved their consoles so much; they almost view them the same way as a proud Ford, and Chevy owner saw their vehicles. Only the wealthy could afford all the platforms that were on the market during this time.

Top Most Popular Consoles During the Nineties

  •               Sega Game Gear
  •               Sega Pico
  •               Sega Saturn
  •               Sega Dreamcast
  •               Sega Master System
  •               Nintendo Game Boy
  •               Super Nintendo
  •               Nintendo 64
Sony PlayStation

Top Six Most Popular Video Games During the Nineties

  1. Final Fantasy 
  2. Super Mario 64
  3. Doom
  4. Sonic the Hedgehog
  5. Mortal Kombat
  6. WarCraft | Orcs, and Humans

The nineties is where the thirst of our modern-day video gaming experience started. Gamers demanded more, and the 1990s set the stage for what was to come.

The Video Gaming Industry in the 2000s to modern Day (Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Generation of Video Game Consoles)

Post the year 2000, video gaming consoles and the video games they played became what we know “video games” to be today. Today’s consoles are processing powerhouses that boast stats that rival most home computers. Graphics and processing speed are the two aspects that judge today’s consoles. Features such as 4k, semiconductor 1.75 GHz 8 core processors, quad-core integrated APU, tri-core are standard in most consoles—a far cry to the consoles that dominated the seventies gaming console scene.

Fifth-Generation Consoles

Looking at the fifth generation of gaming consoles, this is where consoles started becoming more and more like home computers. On June 23rd, 1996, Nintendo released the Nintendo 64 gaming console. The Nintendo 64 was the first console to break the 64-bit mark. Although the lifespan was short for the Nintendo 64, it introduced gamers to what would become the three-dimensional world exploration experience. The only real downfall to the Nintendo 64 was cosmetic. After Sony released PlayStation 2, Nintendo received pushback because it still used cartridges instead of compact disks.

Sixth-Generation Consoles

Released in 2000, the PlayStation 2 (PS2) console was an excellent unit for its time. The PlayStation 2’s design on its own was revolutionary. Sony’s Dreamcast was the first official release of the sixth generation of gaming consoles. When released a year later, the Sony PlayStation two quickly became the standard on how all gaming consoles would be going forward. Even compared to today’s PS4 model, design-wise, there is not much difference when it comes to looks.

A year after the release of the PS2, Microsoft followed up with its original Xbox console. The original Xbox console shipped with a custom 733 MHz Intel Pentium III processor, 8 or 10 GB hard drive, 64 MB of DDR SDRAM @ 200 MHZ memory, and had a 100Mbit Ethernet port (CAT5) so it could be connected to the network.

Seventh-Generation Consoles

The seventh-generation consoles pushed the envelope even further taking graphics and processing power to new limits. The PlayStation3 (PS3), Xbox 360, and Nintendo’s Wii solidified the future of the online multiplayer experience. Wireless remotes became standard; the Xbox 360 had an astonishing 3.2 GHz PowerPC Tri-Core Xenon processor with 512MB of GDDR3 RAM @770 MHz, 500GB data storage became standard, with graphics becoming more and more the primary focus.

Eighth-Generation Consoles

Once these consoles hit the market, gaming as we knew it, changed utterly. Console games are downloaded directly from the console now versus purchasing a hard copy from a brick and mortar store. Fast online multiplayer games that have file sizes upwards of 100GB are not uncommon, so the latest consoles like the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro have one terabyte SSD hard drive options now and have enough power inside of them to run the Space Shuttle.

Where will the Video Gaming Industry go tomorrow? looks forward to the future of the Video Gaming Industry, and we will update this page as the industry grows and expands.

Gamer.Ninja Staff

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