Video Games Industry

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Posted by r2d2 04/24/2009 @ 04:10

Tags : video games industry, video games, entertainment

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North American video game crash of 1983

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The North American video game crash of 1983 (sometimes known as the video game crash of 1984 because it was in that year that the full effects of the crash became apparent to consumers) brought an abrupt end to what is considered the second generation of console video gaming in the English-speaking world. It almost destroyed the then-fledgling industry and led to the bankruptcy of several companies producing home computers and video game consoles in North America. It lasted for about two years, and many business analysts of the time expressed doubts about the long-term viability of video game consoles. The video-game industry was revitalized a few years later, mostly due to the widespread success of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which was released in North America in 1985 and became extremely popular by 1987.

There were several reasons for the crash, but the main cause was oversaturation of the market with dozens of consoles and hundreds of mostly low-quality games. Hundreds of games were in development for the 1983 release alone, and this overproduction resulted in a saturated market without the consumer interest it needed.

The American video game console crash of 1983 was caused by a combination of factors. Although some were more important than others, all played a role in saturating, and then imploding, the video game industry.

The second generation of video game consoles was the first era to be sustained by large libraries of interchangeable software. Without an established precedent, the industry was not prepared to take consoles to the next generation. Also, the US market was flooded with literally dozens of consoles, giving consumers far too many choices. At the time of the US crash, there was a plethora of consoles on the market, including the Atari 2600, the Atari 5200, the Bally Astrocade, the ColecoVision, the Coleco Gemini (a 2600 clone), the Emerson Arcadia 2001, the Fairchild Channel F System II, Magnavox Odyssey2, Mattel Intellivision (and its just-released update with several peripherals, Intellivision II), the Sears Tele-Games systems (which included both 2600 and Intellivision clones), the Tandyvision (an Intellivision clone for Radio Shack), and the Vectrex. Each one of these consoles had its own library of games, and many had large third-party libraries. Likewise, many of these same companies announced yet another generation of consoles for 1984, such as the Odyssey3, and Atari 7800. As previously mentioned, these consoles and games left consumers with too many choices.

Adding to the industry's woes was a glut of poor titles from hastily financed startup companies. These games, combined with weak high-profile Atari 2600 games, such as the video game version of the hit movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and an infamous port of the popular arcade game Pac-Man, seriously damaged the reputation of the industry. E.T. in particular was vastly overproduced, damaging Atari financially (despite Pac-Man's poor quality, it did sell quite well). Finally, Atari's market-leading 2600, now in its sixth year, was starting to approach saturation; most who wanted a system had now purchased one, and there was not yet a strong next-generation console available to take the place of the 2600.

Until the late 1970s, personal computers had primarily been sold in specialty computer stores at a cost of more than US$1,000 (over US$2,500 in 2008 dollars). However, by the early 1980s, many companies released PCs that could connect to a TV set and offered color graphics and improved sound. The first of these systems were the Atari 400 and 800, but many competing models vied for consumer attention. By 1982, the TI 99/4A and the Atari 400 both at $349 ($772.50 in 2008 dollars), Radio Shack's Color Computer at $379 ($838.91 in 2008 dollars), and Commodore had just reduced the price of the Commodore VIC-20 to $199 and the C64 to $499 ($440-$1104 in 2008 dollars).

Because these and other home computers generally had more memory available, and better graphic and sound capabilities than a console, they permitted more sophisticated games and could also be used for tasks such as word processing and home accounting. Also, their games were often much easier to copy, since they came on floppy disks or cassette tapes instead of ROM modules (though many of them continued to use ROM modules extensively). The use of a writable storage medium also allowed players to save games in progress, a feature useful for the increased complexity of computer games, and one not available on the consoles of the era.

Commodore explicitly targeted video game players in its advertising by offering trade-ins toward the purchase of a Commodore 64 and suggesting that college-bound children would need to own computers, not video games.

Unlike most other computer manufacturers of the time, Commodore also sold its PCs in the same outlets as video game consoles, such as discount stores, department stores, and toy stores. Commodore’s vertical integration also allowed it to engage in aggressive discount pricing because its margins were much higher than those of Texas Instruments (TI), Coleco, or Atari. This was because Commodore’s MOS Technology, Inc. subsidiary actually manufactured many of its chips (notably the 6502 CPU). Some competing manufacturers also had to get their chips from this subsidiary, thus subsidizing Commodore for the chips they would then use to compete with it. Although this was a major factor in the ongoing PC price wars, some companies, such as Atari (who used the 6502 in Atari computers and video game consoles), were able to set up deals that allowed them to manufacture their own chips.

The first sign of the coming disaster came from a company whose games were perceived to be high quality. Activision was co-founded by Atari programmers who left the company in 1979 because Atari did not allow credits to appear on the games and did not pay employees a royalty based on sales. At the time, Atari was owned by Warner Communications, and the developers felt that they should receive the same recognition that musicians, directors, and actors got from Warner’s other divisions. After Activision went into business, Atari quickly sued to block sales of Activision’s products, but never won a restraining order and ultimately lost the case in 1982.

This court case legitimized third-party development, encouraging companies as ill-prepared as Quaker Oats (with their US Games division) to rush to open video-game divisions, hoping to impress both stockholders and consumers. Companies lured away each other’s programmers or used reverse engineering to learn how to make games for proprietary systems. Atari even hired several programmers from Mattel's Intellivision development studio, prompting a lawsuit by Mattel against Atari that included charges of industrial espionage.

Despite the lessons learned by Atari in the loss of its programmers to Activision, Mattel continued to try to avoid crediting game designers. Rather than reveal the names of Intellivision game designers, Mattel instead required that a 1981 TV Guide interview with them change their names to protect their collective identities. ColecoVision designers worked in similar obscurity, feeding more departures to upstart competitors.

Unlike Nintendo, Sega, Sony, or Microsoft in later decades, the hardware manufacturers in this era lost exclusive control of their platforms’ supply of games. With it they also lost the ability to make sure that the toy stores were never overloaded with products. Activision, Atari and Mattel all had experienced programmers, but many of the new companies rushing to join the market did not have enough experienced talent to create the games. Titles such as Chase the Chuck Wagon, Skeet Shoot, and Lost Luggage were examples of games that companies made in the hopes of taking advantage of the video-game boom. While heavily advertised and marketed, these games were perceived to be of poor quality and did not catch on as hoped, further damaging the industry.

The established video-game companies also played a significant role in the crash. When Atari issued its widely advertised ET game, it manufactured millions of units in anticipation of a major hit. Unfortunately, the game had been rushed to market after less than six weeks of development time. The game’s poor reputation spread quickly by word of mouth, and the story was picked up by newscasts that trumpeted ET as the first great bomb of the video game age. The end result was an excessive number of unsold and returned units. Combined with the high costs for the movie license, ET became a financial disaster for Atari.

Besides TI, personal-computer casualties included the Coleco Adam, the Timex-Sinclair line, and a number of other smaller players. Atari nearly went bankrupt and in 1984 was sold off by its parent company Warner Communications (now part of Time Warner). The purchaser was, ironically, Jack Tramiel, the founder of Commodore International. Commodore’s board of directors, keen on moving the company in a direction away from home computing, had forced him out. Thus, even the winner of the home computer war found it a Pyrrhic victory.

The release of so many new games in 1982 completely flooded the market and most stores did not have, or decided not to allocate, sufficient space to carry all the new games and consoles. Inside Mattel, one Intellivision sales executive explained the problem: "Two years of products have been pushed into the channel in one year, and there’s no way to re-balance the system." As stores tried to return the surplus games to the new publishers, the publishers had neither new products nor cash to refund the retailers' money. Many publishers, including Games By Apollo and US Games (the ill-fated Quaker Oats games unit), quickly folded.

Unable to return the unsold games to defunct publishers after Christmas 1982, toy stores marked down the titles and placed them in discount bins and sale tables. Whereas the typical game of 1982 cost US$34.95 — US$77.36 in 2008 when adjusted for inflation — the discount bins quickly settled on the price of US$4.95 per game (about US$10.96 in 2008 when adjusted for inflation). By June 1983, the market for the more expensive games had shrunk dramatically and was replaced by a new market of rushed-to-market, low-budget games.

A massive industry shakeout resulted. Magnavox and Coleco abandoned the video game business entirely, and Imagic withdrew its IPO the day before its stock was to go public, and later collapsed. While the largest of the third-party cartridge makers, Activision, survived for several more years on personal-computer platforms (thanks to its then-legal ability to average its income and recover millions of dollars in past tax payments from the IRS), most of the smaller software development houses supporting the Atari 2600 closed.

Additionally, the toy retailers which controlled consumer access to games had concluded that video games were a fad, that the fad was over, and that the shelf space should be reassigned to different products. This led to many retailers refusing to have anything to do with video games for several years. This was the most formidable barrier that Nintendo ran up against when trying to market the US-branded Famicom in the US. This opposition to video games by retailers was directly responsible for causing Nintendo to make such changes as calling the system an "Entertainment System" rather than a "console," using terms such as "control deck" and "Game Pak," as well as including a toy robot called ROB to convince toy retailers to allow it in their stores.

The American video game crash had two long-lasting results. The first result was that dominance in the home console market shifted from the United States to Japan. When the video game market recovered by 1987, the leading player was Nintendo’s NES, with a resurgent Atari battling Sega for the number two spot. Atari, never truly recovering, could not manage to match the success of its 2600 console and finally stopped producing game systems in 1996 after the failure of the Atari Jaguar. Japanese control of the North American market continued for most of the next two decades.

A second, highly visible result of the crash was the institution of measures to control third-party development of software. Using secrecy to combat industrial espionage had failed to stop rival companies from reverse engineering the Mattel and Atari systems and hiring away their trained game programmers. Nintendo, and all the manufacturers who followed, controlled game distribution by implementing licensing restrictions and a security lockout system. Would-be renegade publishers could not publish for each others’ lines, as Atari, Coleco and Mattel had done, because in order for the cartridge to work in the console, the cartridge had to contain the appropriate key chip for the lock inside the console, and the publisher had to also acknowledge its license to Nintendo in the copyright notices. If no key chip was present or if the key chip did not match the lock inside the console, the game would not work. Although Accolade achieved a technical victory in one court case against Sega, challenging this control, even it ultimately yielded and signed the Sega licensing agreement. Several publishers, notably Tengen (Atari), Color Dreams, and Camerica, challenged Nintendo’s control system during the 8-bit era. The concepts of such a control system remain in use on every major video game console produced today, even with fewer “cartridge-based” consoles on the market than in the 8/16-bit era. Replacing the security chips in most modern consoles are specially-encoded optical discs that cannot be copied by most users and can only be read by a particular console under normal circumstances.

Nintendo reserved the lion’s share of NES game revenue for itself by limiting most third-party publishers to only five games per year on its systems. It also required all cartridges to be manufactured by Nintendo, and to be paid for in full before they were manufactured. Cartridges could not be returned to Nintendo, so publishers assumed all the risk. As a result, some publishers lost more money due to distress sales of remaining inventory at the end of the NES era than they ever earned in profits from sales of the games. Nintendo portrayed these measures as intended to protect the public against poor-quality games, and placed a golden seal of approval on all games released for the system. Most of the Nintendo platform-control measures were adopted by later manufacturers such as Sega, Sony, and Microsoft.

In Europe, the early years of personal computing (1981–1985) were spearheaded by the very aggressive marketing of inexpensive home computers with the theme “Why buy your child a video game and distract them from school when you can buy them a home computer that will prepare them for college?” Marketing research for both the gaming and the home-computer industries tracked the change as millions of consumers shifted their intention to buy choices from game consoles to low-end computers that retailed for similar prices while still playing comparable games.

By 1982, computers such as the Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum had launched in Europe and were selling extremely well there, dominating the European games market and growing throughout 1983/1984. The significantly lower price of computer games (some of which cost just 1% of the price of a computer, due to being stored on inexpensive cassette tapes or floppy disks rather than the ROM chips contained in the plastic cartridges of consoles) strengthened this domination and helped quickly create a mass computer games market. By the time of the 1983 North American console crash, the European video games industry was mostly computer-based and most games were made by European publishers. This allowed the European market to continue to thrive despite the crashing American console market.

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Video gaming in Lithuania

This article is about the video game industry and culture in the Republic of Lithuania.

Video games is becoming more and more popular in Lithuania, as well as in other EU members. Although video games industry in Lithuania is only developing, there are some challenges for gamers, such as minor cybersport events.

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History of video games

The Nintendo Entertainment System or Famicom.

Video games were introduced as a commercial entertainment medium in 1971, becoming the basis for a new entertainment industry in the late 1970s/early 1980s in the United States, Japan, and Europe. After a disastrous industry collapse in 1983 and a subsequent rebirth two years later, the video game industry has experienced sustained growth for over two decades to become a $11 billion industry, which rivals the motion picture industry as the most profitable entertainment industry in the world.

A device called the Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device was patented in the United States by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. The patent was filed on January 25, 1947 and issued on December 14, 1948. It described using eight vacuum tubes to simulate a missile firing at a target and contains knobs to adjust the curve and speed of the missile. Because computer graphics could not be drawn electronically at the time, small targets were drawn on a simple overlay and placed on the screen.

In 1949-1950, Charly Adama created a "Bouncing Ball" program for MIT's Whirlwind computer. While the program was not yet interactive, it was a precursor to games soon to come.

In February 1951, Christopher Strachey tried to run a draughts programme he had written for the NPL Pilot ACE. The program exceeded the memory capacity of the machine and by October, Strachey had recoded his program for a machine at Manchester with a larger memory capacity.

OXO, a graphical version of tic-tac-toe, was created by A.S. Douglas in 1952 at the University of Cambridge, in order to demonstrate his thesis on human-computer interaction. It was developed on the EDSAC computer, which uses a cathode ray tube displaying memory contents as a visual display. The player competes against the computer.

In 1958 William Higinbotham created a game using an oscilloscope and analog computer. Aptly titled Tennis for Two, it was used to entertain visitors of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. Tennis for Two showed a simplified tennis court from the side, featuring a gravity-controlled ball that needed to be played over the "net," unlike its successors. The game was played with two box-shaped controllers, both equipped with a knob for trajectory, and a button for hitting the ball. Tennis for Two was exhibited for two seasons before its dismantlement in 1959.

The majority of early computer games ran on university mainframe computers in the United States and were developed by individuals as a hobby. The limited accessibility of early computer hardware meant that these games were small in number and forgotten by posterity.

In 1961, a group of students at MIT, including Steve Russell, programmed a game titled Spacewar! on the DEC PDP-1, a new computer at the time. The game pitted two human players against each other, each controlling a spacecraft capable of firing missiles, while a black hole in the center of the screen created a large hazard for the crafts. The game was eventually distributed with new DEC computers and traded throughout the then-primitive internet. Spacewar! is credited as the first influential computer game.

In 1966, Ralph Baer created a simple video game named Corndog that displayed on a standard television set, the first to do so. With the assistance of Baer, Bill Harrison created the light gun and developed several video games with Bill Rusch in 1967. Ralph Baer continued development, and in 1968 a prototype was completed that could run several different games such as table tennis and target shooting.

In 1969, AT&T computer programmer Ken Thompson wrote a game called Space Travel for the MULTICS operating system. This game simulated various bodies of the solar system and their movements and the player could attempt to land a spacecraft on them. AT&T pulled out of the MULTICS project, and Thompson ported the game to FORTRAN code running on the GECOS operating system of the General Electric GE 635 mainframe computer. Runs on this system cost about $75 per hour, and Thompson looked for a smaller, less expensive computer to use. He found an underused PDP-7, and he and Dennis Ritchie started porting the game to PDP-7 assembly language. In the process of learning to develop software for the machine, the development process of the UNIX operating system began, and Space Travel has been called the first UNIX application.

At this time, computer and video game development split to many areas, such as arcade machines, university computers, handhelds, and home computers.

In September 1971, the Galaxy Game was installed at a student union at Stanford University. Based on Spacewar!, this was the first coin-operated video game. Only one was built, using a DEC PDP-11/20 and vector display terminals. In 1972 it was expanded to be able to handle four to eight consoles.

Also in 1971, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney created a coin-operated arcade version of Spacewar! and called it Computer Space. Nutting Associates bought the game and manufactured 1,500 Computer Space machines, with the release taking place in November 1971. The game was unsuccessful due to its long learning-curve, but was a landmark, being the first mass-produced video game and the first offered for commercial sale.

Bushnell and Dabney felt they did not receive enough earnings by licensing Computer Space to Nutting Associates. Atari was founded in 1972. The first arcade video game with widespread success was Atari's PONG, released the same year. The game is loosely based on table tennis: a ball is "served" from the center of the court and as the ball moves towards their side of the court each player must manoeuvre their bat to hit the ball back to their opponent. Atari sold 19,000 PONG machines, creating many imitators.

The arcade game industry entered its Golden Age in 1978 with the release of Space Invaders by Taito, a success that inspired dozens of manufacturers to enter the market. In 1979, Atari released Asteroids. Color arcade games became more popular in 1979 and 1980 with the arrival of titles such as Pac-Man. The Golden Age saw a prevalence of arcade machines in malls, traditional storefronts, restaurants and convenience stores.

1972 saw the launch of console based videogames with the original Magnavox Odyssey system in the USA. This had no gaming cartridges, but only a few programmed games in the console. The games featured a plastic sheet overlay, that was placed on the television picture tube and held by static electricity, which would define the gaming space such as a basketball court or tennis court.

Philips bought Magnavox and released a different game in Europe in using the Odyssey brand in 1974 and an evolved game that Magnavox had been developing for the US market. In all the Odyssey system achieved sales of 2 million units.

University mainframe game development blossomed in the early 1970s. There is little record of all but the most popular games, as they were not marketed, or regarded as a serious endeavor. The people, generally students, writing these games often were doing so illicitly, making questionable use of very expensive computing resources, and thus were not anxious to let very many people know what they were doing. There were, however, at least two notable distribution paths for the student game designers of this time.

The PLATO system was an educational computing environment designed at the University of Illinois and which ran on mainframes made by Control Data Corporation. Games were often exchanged between different PLATO systems.

DECUS was the user group for computers made by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), and distributed programs, including games, that would run on the various types of DEC computers.

A number of noteworthy games were also written for Hewlett Packard minicomputers such as the HP2000.

While the fruit of development in early video games appeared mainly (for the consumer) in video arcades and home consoles, the rapidly evolving home computers of the 1970s and 80s allowed their owners to program simple games. Hobbyist groups for the new computers soon formed and game software followed.

Soon many of these games (at first clones of mainframe classics such as Star Trek, and then later clones of popular arcade games) were being distributed through a variety of channels, such as printing the game’s source code in books (such as David Ahl’s BASIC Computer Games), magazines (Creative Computing), and newsletters, which allowed users to type in the code for themselves. Early game designers like Crowther, Daglow and Yob would find the computer code for their games—which they had never thought to copyright—published in books and magazines, with their names removed from the listing. Early home computers from Apple, Commodore, Tandy and others had many games that people typed in.

Another distribution channel was the physical mailing and selling of floppy disks, cassette tapes and ROM cartridges. Soon a small cottage industry was formed, with amateur programmers selling disks in plastic bags put on the shelves of local shops, or sent through the mail. Richard Garriott distributed several copies of his 1980 computer role-playing game Akalabeth: World of Doom in plastic bags before the game was published.

In 1977, manufacturers of older obsolete consoles and Pong clones sold their systems at a loss to clear stock, creating a glut in the market and causing Fairchild and RCA to abandon their game consoles. Only Atari and Magnavox stayed in the home console market.

In the earliest consoles, the computer code for one or more games was hardcoded into microchips using discrete logic, and no additional games could ever be added. By the mid-1970s video games were found on cartridges. Programs were burned onto ROM chips that were mounted inside plastic cartridge casings that could be plugged into slots on the console. When the cartridges were plugged in, the general-purpose microprocessors in the consoles read the cartridge memory and ran whatever program was stored there. Rather than being confined to a small selection of games included in the box, consumers could now amass libraries of game cartridges. The first of these consoles to use the ROM cartridge format was the Fairchild 'Video Entertainment System (VES), released in 1976.

In 1979, Activision was created by disgruntled former Atari programmers. It was the first third-party developer of video games.

In the early 1980s, the computer gaming industry experienced its first major growing pains. Publishing houses appeared, with many honest businesses (and in rare cases such as Electronic Arts, successfully surviving to this day) alongside fly-by-night operations that cheated the games' developers. While some early 80s games were simple clones of existing arcade titles, the relatively low publishing costs for personal computer games allowed for many bold, unique games, a legacy that continues to this day. The primary gaming computers of the 1980s emerged in 1982: the Commodore 64, Apple II (although the Apple II started in 1977) and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The ZX Spectrum was mostly used and known only in the UK, whilst the USA had the Apple II, Commodore 64, and Atari 800. Over the run of 15 years, the Apple II had a total of almost 20,000 programs, making it the 8-bit computer with the most software overall.

The Golden Age of Arcade Games reached its full steam in the 1980s, with many technically innovative and genre-defining games in the first few years of the decade. Defender (1980) established the scrolling shooter and was the first to have events taking place outside the player’s view, displayed by a radar view showing a map of the whole playfield. Battlezone (1980) used wireframe vector graphics to create the first true three-dimensional game world. 3D Monster Maze (1981) was the first 3D game for a home computer, while Dungeons of Daggorath (1982) added various weapons and monsters, sophisticated sound effects, and a "heartbeat" health monitor. Pole Position (1982) used sprite-based, pseudo-3D graphics when it pioneered the "rear-view racer format" where the player’s view is behind and above the vehicle, looking forward along the road with the horizon in sight. The style would remain in wide use even after true 3D graphics became standard for racing games. Pac-Man (1980) was the first game to achieve widespread popularity in mainstream culture and the first game character to be popular in his own right. Dragon's Lair (1983) was the first laserdisc game, and introduced full-motion video to video games. Journey Escape, a videogame developed by Data Age for the Atari 2600 console, and released in 1982, stars the rock band Journey, one of the world's most popular acts at the time, and is based on their album of the same name.

With Adventure establishing the genre, the release of Zork in 1980 further popularized text adventure games in home computers and established developer Infocom’s dominance in the field. As these early computers often lacked graphical capabilities, text adventures proved successful. When affordable computers started catching up to and surpassing the graphics of consoles in the late 1980s, the pure text adventure's popularity waned in favor of graphic adventures and other genres. The text adventure would eventually be known as interactive fiction and a small dedicated following has kept the genre going, with new releases being nearly all free.

Also published in 1980 was Roberta Williams' Mystery House, for the Apple II. It was the first graphic adventure on home computers. Graphics consisted entirely of static monochrome drawings, and the interface still used the typed commands of text adventures. It proved very popular at the time, and she and husband Ken went on to found Sierra On-Line, a major producer of adventure games. Mystery House remains largely forgotten today.

In August 1982, the Commodore 64 was released to the public. It found initial success because it was marketed and priced aggressively. It had a BASIC programming environment and advanced graphic and sound capabilities for its time, similar to the ColecoVision console. It also utilized the same game controller ports popularized by the Atari 2600, allowing gamers to use their old joysticks with the system. It would become the most popular home computer of its day in the USA and many other countries and the best-selling single computer model of all time internationally.

At around the same time, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum was released in the United Kingdom and quickly became the most popular home computer in many areas of Western Europe, and later the Eastern bloc due to the ease with which clones could be produced.

SuperSet Software created Snipes, a text-mode networked computer game in 1983 to test a new IBM Personal Computer based computer network and demonstrate its capabilities. Snipes is officially credited as being the original inspiration for Novell NetWare. It is believed to be the first network game ever written for a commercial personal computer and is recognized alongside 1974’s Maze War (a networked multiplayer maze game for several research machines) and Spasim (a 3D multiplayer space simulation for time shared mainframes) as the precursor to multiplayer games such as Doom and Quake.

The true modern adventure game would be born with the Sierra King's Quest series in 1984. It featured color graphics and a third person perspective. An on-screen player-controlled character could be moved behind and in front of objects on a 2D background drawn in perspective, creating the illusion of pseudo-3D space. Commands were still entered via text. LucasArts would do away with this last vestige feature of text adventures when its 1987 adventure Maniac Mansion built with its SCUMM system allowed a point-and-click interface. Sierra and other game companies quickly followed with their own mouse-driven games.

With Elite in 1984, David Braben and Ian Bell ushered in the age of modern style 3D graphics, creating a game with convincing vector worlds, full 6 degree freedom of movement, and thousands of visitable planetary systems. Initially only available for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron, the success of this title caused it eventually to be ported to all popular formats, including the Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST and even the Nintendo Entertainment System, although this version only received a European release.

The IBM PC compatible computer became a technically competitive gaming platform with IBM’s PC/AT in 1984. The new 16-color EGA display standard allowed its graphics to approach the quality seen in popular home computers like the Commodore 64. The primitive 4-color CGA graphics of previous models had limited the PC’s appeal to the business segment, since its graphics failed to compete with the C64 or Apple II. The sound capabilities of the AT, however, were still limited to the PC speaker, which was substandard compared to the built-in sound chips used in many home computers. Also, the relatively high cost of the PC compatible systems severely limited their popularity in gaming.

The Apple Macintosh also arrived at this time. It lacked the color capabilities of the earlier Apple II, instead preferring a much higher pixel resolution, but the operating system support for the GUI attracted developers of some interesting games (e.g. Lode Runner) even before color returned in 1987 with the Mac II.

The arrival of the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in 1985 was the beginning of a new era of 16-bit machines. For many users they were too expensive until later on in the decade, at which point advances in the IBM PC’s open platform had caused the IBM PC compatibles to become comparably powerful at a lower cost than their competitors. The VGA standard developed for IBM’s new PS/2 line in 1987 gave the PC the potential for 256-color graphics. This was a big jump ahead of most 8-bit home computers but still lagging behind platforms with built-in sound and graphics hardware like the Amiga, causing an odd trend around '89-91 towards developing to a seemingly inferior machine. Thus while both the ST and Amiga were host to many technically excellent games, their time of prominence proved to be shorter than that of the 8-bit machines, which saw new ports well into the 80s and even the 90s.

Dedicated sound cards started to address the issue of poor sound capabilities in IBM PC compatibles in the late 1980s. AdLib set an early de facto standard for sound cards in 1987, with its card based on the Yamaha YM3812 sound chip. This would last until the introduction of Creative Labs' Sound Blaster in 1989, which took the chip and added new features while remaining compatible with AdLib cards, and creating a new de facto standard. However, many games would still support these and rarer things like the Roland MT-32 and Disney Sound Source into the early 90s. The initial high cost of sound cards meant they would not find widespread use until the 1990s.

Shareware gaming first appeared in the mid 1980s, but its big successes came in the 1990s.

Dialup bulletin board systems were popular in the 1980s, and sometimes used for online game playing. The earliest such systems, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, had a crude plain-text interface, but later systems made use of terminal-control codes (the so-called ANSI art, which included the use of IBM-PC-specific characters not actually part of an ANSI standard) to get a pseudo-graphical interface. Some BBSes offered access to various games which were playable through such an interface, ranging from text adventures to gambling games like blackjack (generally played for "points" rather than real money). On multiuser BBSs (where more than one person could be online at once), there were sometimes games allowing the different users to interact with one another; some such games of the fantasy role-playing variety were known as MUDs, for "multi-user dungeons". These games eventually evolved into what are known today as MMORPG.

Commercial online services also arose during this decade, starting with a plain-text interface similar to BBSs (but operated on large mainframe computers permitting larger numbers of users to be online at once), and moving by the end of the decade to fully-graphical environments using software specific to each personal computer platform. Popular text-based services included CompuServe, The Source, and GEnie, while platform-specific graphical services included PlayNET and Quantum Link for the Commodore 64, AppleLink for the Apple II and Macintosh, and PC Link for the IBM PC, all of which were run by the company which eventually became America Online; and a competing service, Prodigy. Interactive games were a feature of these services, though until 1987 they used text-based displays, not graphics.

Nintendo's Game & Watch line began in 1980. The success of these LCD handhelds spurred dozens of other game and toy companies to make their own portable games, many being copies of Game & Watch titles or adaptations of popular arcade games. Improving LCD technology meant the new handhelds could be more reliable and consume less batteries than LED or VFD games, most only needing watch batteries. They could also be made much smaller than most LED handhelds, even small enough to wear on one’s wrist like a watch. Tiger Electronics borrowed this concept of videogaming with cheap, affordable handhelds and still produces games in this model to the present day.

At the end of 1983, the industry experienced losses more severe than the 1977 crash. This was the "crash" of the video game industry, as well as the bankruptcy of several companies that produced North American home computers and video game consoles from late 1983 to early 1984. It brought an end to what is considered to be the second generation of console video gaming. Causes of the crash include the production of poorly designed games such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 that suffered due to extremely tight deadlines. It was discovered that more Pac-Man cartridges were manufactured than there were systems made. In addition, so many E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial cartridges were left unsold that Atari allegedly buried thousands of cartridges in a landfill in New Mexico.

In 1984, the computer gaming market took over from the console market following the crash of that year; computers offered equal gaming ability and since their simple design allowed games to take complete command of the hardware after power-on, they were nearly as simple to start playing with as consoles.

In 1985, the North American video game console market was revived with Nintendo’s release of its 8-bit console, the Famicom, known outside Asia as Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It was bundled with Super Mario Bros. and instantly became a success. The NES dominated the North American and the Japanese market until the rise of the next generation of consoles in the early 1990s. Other markets were not as heavily dominated, allowing other consoles to find an audience like the Sega Master System in Europe, Australia and Brazil (though it was sold in North America as well).

In the new consoles, the gamepad took over joysticks, paddles, and keypads as the default game controller included with the system. The gamepad design of an 8 direction Directional-pad (or D-pad for short) with 2 or more action buttons became the standard.

The Legend of Zelda series made its debut in 1986 with The Legend of Zelda. Around the same time, the Dragon Quest series debuted with Dragon Quest (1986), and has created a phenomenon in Japanese culture ever since. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese company Square was struggling and Hironobu Sakaguchi decided to make his final game, titled Final Fantasy (1987), a role-playing game (RPG) modeled after Dragon Quest, and the Final Fantasy series was born as a result. Final Fantasy would later go on to become the most successful RPG franchise. Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear series also made its debut with the release of Metal Gear (1987) on the MSX2 computer, giving birth to the stealth game genre. Metal Gear was ported to the NES shortly after. In 1989, Capcom released Sweet Home (1989) on the NES, which served as a precursor to the survival horror genre.

In 1988, Nintendo published their first issue of Nintendo Power magazine.

The video game industry matured into a mainstream form of entertainment in the 1990s. Major developments of the 1990s included the beginning of a larger consolidation of publishers, higher budget games, increased size of production teams and collaborations with both the music and motion picture industries. Examples of this would be Mark Hamill's involvement with Wing Commander III or Quincy Jones' introduction of QSound.

The increasing computing power and decreasing cost of processors as the Intel 80386, Intel 80486, and the Motorola 68030, caused the rise of 3D graphics, as well as "multimedia" capabilities through sound cards and CD-ROMs. Early 3D games began with flat-shaded graphics (Elite, Starglider 2 or Alpha Waves ), and then simple forms of texture mapping (Wolfenstein 3D).

In the early 1990s, shareware distribution was a popular method of publishing games for smaller developers, including then-fledgling companies such as Apogee (now 3D Realms), Epic Megagames (now Epic Games), and id Software. It gave consumers the chance to try a trial portion of the game, usually restricted to the game’s complete first section or "episode", before purchasing the rest of the adventure. Racks of games on single 5 1/4" and later 3.5" floppy disks were common in many stores, often only costing a few dollars each. Since the shareware versions were essentially free, the cost only needed to cover the disk and minimal packaging. As the increasing size of games in the mid-90s made them impractical to fit on floppies, and retail publishers and developers began to earnestly mimic the practice, shareware games were replaced by shorter demos (often only one or two levels), distributed free on CDs with gaming magazines and over the Internet.

In 1992 the game Dune II was released. It was by no means the first in the genre (several other games can be called the very first real-time strategy game, see the History of RTS), but it set the standard game mechanics for later blockbuster RTS games such as Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, Command & Conquer, and StarCraft. The RTS is characterized by an overhead view, a "mini-map", and the control of both the economic and military aspects of an army. The rivalry between the two styles of RTS play—Warcraft style, which used GUIs accessed once a building was selected, and C&C style, which allowed construction of any unit from within a permanently visible menu—continued into the start of the next millennium.

Alone in the Dark (1992), while not the first survival horror game, planted the seeds of what would become known as the survival horror genre today. It established the formula that would later flourish on CD-ROM based consoles, with games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

Adventure games continued to evolve, with Sierra Entertainment’s King's Quest series, and LucasFilms'/LucasArts' Monkey Island series bringing graphical interaction and the creation of the concept of "point-and-click" gaming. Myst and its sequels inspired a new style of puzzle-based adventure games. Published in 1993, Myst itself was one of the first computer games to make full use of the new high-capacity CD-ROM storage format. Despite Myst’s mainstream success, the increased popularity of action-based and real-time games led adventure games and simulation video games, both mainstays of computer games in earlier decades, to begin to fade into obscurity.

It was in the 1990s that Maxis began publishing its successful line of "Sim" games, beginning with SimCity, and continuing with a variety of titles, such as SimEarth, SimCity 2000, SimAnt, SimTower, and the best-selling PC game in history, The Sims, in early 2000.

In 1996, 3dfx Interactive released the Voodoo chipset, leading to the first affordable 3D accelerator cards for personal computers. These devoted 3D rendering daughter cards performed a portion of the computations required for more-detailed three-dimensional graphics (mainly texture filtering), allowing for more-detailed graphics than would be possible if the CPU were required to handle both game logic and all the graphical tasks. First-person shooter games (notably Quake) were among the first to take advantage of this new technology. While other games would also make use of it, the FPS would become the chief driving force behind the development of new 3D hardware, as well as the yardstick by which its performance would be measured, usually quantified as the number of frames per second rendered for a particular scene in a particular game.

Several other, less-mainstream, genres were created in this decade. Looking Glass Studios' Thief: The Dark Project and its sequel were the first to coin the term "first person sneaker", although it is questionable whether they are the first "first person stealth" games. Turn-based strategy progressed further, with the Heroes of Might and Magic (HOMM) series (from The 3DO Company) luring many mainstream gamers into this complex genre.

The first true MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons) were developed in the early 90s. Id Software’s 1996 game Quake pioneered play over the Internet in first-person shooters. Internet multiplayer capability became a de facto requirement in almost all FPS games. Other genres also began to offer online play, including RTS games like Microsoft Game Studios’ Age of Empires, Blizzard’s Warcraft and StarCraft series, and turn-based games such as Heroes of Might and Magic. MMORPGs (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game), such as Ultima Online and EverQuest freed users from the limited number of simultaneous players in other games and brought the MUD concept of persistent worlds to graphical multiplayer games. Developments in web browser plug-ins like Java and Adobe Flash allowed for simple browser-based games. These are small single player or multiplayer games that can be quickly downloaded and played from within a web browser without installation. Their most popular use is for puzzle games, side-scrollers, classic arcade games, and multiplayer card and board games.

Few new genres have been created since the advent of the FPS and RTS, with the possible exception of the third-person shooter. Games such as Grand Theft Auto III, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Enter the Matrix, and Hitman all use a third-person camera perspective, but are otherwise very similar to their first-person counterparts.

With the advent of 16-bit and 32-bit consoles, home video games began to approach the level of graphics seen in arcade games. An increasing number of players would wait for popular arcade games to be ported to consoles rather than going out. Arcades experienced a resurgence in the early to mid 1990s with games such as Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat and other games in the one-on-one fighting game genre, and NBA Jam. As patronage of arcades declined, many were forced to close down. Classic coin-operated games have largely become the province of dedicated hobbyists and as a tertiary attraction for some businesses, such as movie theaters, batting cages, miniature golf, and arcades attached to game stores such as F.Y.E..

The gap left by the old corner arcades was partly filled by large amusement centers dedicated to providing clean, safe environments and expensive game control systems not available to home users. These are usually based on sports like skiing or cycling, as well as rhythm games like Dance Dance Revolution, which have carved out a large slice of the market. Dave & Buster's and GameWorks are two large chains in the United States with this type of environment. Aimed at adults, they feature full service restaurants with full liquor bars and have a wide variety of video game and hands on electronic gaming options. Chuck E. Cheese's is a similar type of establishment focused towards children.

In 1989, Nintendo released the Game Boy, the first handheld console since the ill-fated Microvision ten years before. The design team headed by Gunpei Yokoi had also been responsible for the Game & Watch systems. Included with the system was Tetris, a popular puzzle game. Several rival handhelds also made their debut around that time, including the Sega Game Gear and Atari Lynx (the first handheld with color LCD display). Although most other systems were more technologically advanced, they were hampered by higher battery consumption and less third-party developer support. While some of the other systems remained in production until the mid-90s, the Game Boy remained at the top spot in sales throughout its lifespan.

Mobile phones became videogaming platforms when Nokia installed Snake onto its line of mobile phones in 1998. Soon every major phone brand offered "time killer games" that could be played in very short moments such as waiting for a bus. Mobile phone games early on were limited by the modest size of the phone screens that were all monochrome and the very limited amount of memory and processing power on phones, as well as the drain on the battery.

The Sega Mega Drive (known in North America as the Sega Genesis) proved its worth early on after its debut in 1989. Nintendo responded with its own next generation system known as the Super NES in 1991. The TurboGrafx-16 debuted early on alongside the Genesis, but did not achieve a large following in the U.S. due to a limited library of games and excessive distribution restrictions imposed by Hudson.

The intense competition of this time was also a period of not entirely truthful marketing. The TurboGrafx-16 was billed as the first 16-bit system but its central processor was an 8-bit HuC6280, with only its HuC6260 graphics processor being a true 16-bit chip. Additionally, the much earlier Mattel Intellivision contained a 16-bit processor. Sega, too, was known to stretch the truth in its marketing approach; they used the term "Blast Processing" to describe the simple fact that their console's CPU ran at a higher clock speed than that of the SNES (7.67 MHz vs 3.58 MHz).

In Japan, the 1987 success of the PC Engine (as the TurboGrafx-16 was known there) against the Famicom and CD drive peripheral allowed it to fend off the Mega Drive (Genesis) in 1988, which never really caught on to the same degree as outside Japan. The PC Engine eventually lost out to the Super Famicom, but, due to its popular CD add-ons, retained enough of a user base to support new games well into the late 1990s.

CD-ROM drives were first seen in this generation, as add-ons for the PC Engine in 1988 and the Mega Drive in 1991. Basic 3D graphics entered the mainstream with flat-shaded polygons enabled by additional processors in game cartridges like Virtua Racing and Star Fox.

SNK's Neo-Geo was the most expensive console by a wide margin when it was released in 1990, and would remain so for years. It was also capable of 2D graphics in a quality level years ahead of other consoles. The reason for this was that it contained the same hardware that was found in SNK's arcade games. This was the first time since the home Pong machines that a true-to-the-arcade experience could be had at home.

In 1993, Atari re-entered the home console market with the introduction of the Atari Jaguar. Also in 1993, The 3DO Company released the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, which, though highly advertised and promoted, failed to catch up to the sales of the Jaguar, due its high pricetag. Both consoles had very low sales and few quality games, eventually leading to their demise. In 1994, three new consoles were released in Japan: the Sega Saturn, the PlayStation, and the PC-FX, the Saturn and the PlayStation later seeing release in North America in 1995. The PlayStation quickly outsold all of its competitors, with the exception of the aging Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which still had the support of many major game companies.

After many delays, Nintendo released its 64-bit console, the Nintendo 64 in 1996. The flagship title, Super Mario 64, became a defining title for 3D platformer games.

PaRappa the Rapper popularized rhythm, or music video games in Japan with its 1996 debut on the PlayStation. Subsequent music and dance games like beatmania and Dance Dance Revolution became ubiquitous attractions in Japanese arcades. While Parappa, DDR, and other games found a cult following when brought to North America, music games would not gain a wide audience in the market until the next decade.

Other milestone games of the era include Rare's Nintendo 64 title GoldenEye 007 (1997), which was critically acclaimed for bringing innovation as being the first major first-person shooter that was exclusive to a console, and for pioneering certain features that became staples of the genre, such as scopes, headshots, and objective-based missions. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998), Nintendo's 3D debut for the The Legend of Zelda adventure game series featured innovations such as Z-targeting, used in later games of similar genres.

Nintendo's choice to use cartridges instead of CD-ROMs for the Nintendo 64, unique among the consoles of this period, proved to have negative consequences. While cartridges were faster and combated piracy, CDs could hold far more data and were much cheaper to produce, causing many game companies to turn to Nintendo's CD-based competitors. In particular, SquareSoft, which had released all previous games in its Final Fantasy series for Nintendo consoles, now turned to the PlayStation; Final Fantasy VII (1997) was a huge success, establishing the popularity of role-playing games in the west and making the PlayStation the primary console for the genre.

By the end of this period, Sony had become the leader in the video game market. The Saturn was moderately successful in Japan but a failure in North America and Europe, leaving Sega outside of the main competition. The N64 achieved huge success in North America and Europe, though it never surpassed PlayStation's sales. The N64 was also successful in Japan, even though it failed to repeat the tremendous success of the Famicom and Super Famicom there due to stiff competition by PlayStation.

The most recent decade has shown innovation on both consoles and PCs, and an increasingly competitive market for portable game systems.

The phenomena of user-created modifications (or "mods") for games was one trend that began around the turn of the millennium. The most famous example is that of Counter-Strike; released in 1999, it is still the most popular online first-person shooter, even though it was created as a mod for Half-Life by two independent programmers. Eventually, game designers realized the potential of mods and custom content in general to enhance the value of their games, and so began to encourage its creation. Some examples of this include Unreal Tournament, which allowed players to import 3dsmax scenes to use as character models, and Maxis' The Sims, for which players could create custom objects.

Mobile gaming interest was raised when Nokia launched its N-Gage phone and handheld gaming platform in 2003. While about two million handsets were sold, the product line was seen as not a success and withdrawn from Nokia's lineup. Meanwhile many game developers had noticed that more advanced phones had color screens and reasonable memory and processing power to do reasonable gaming. Mobile phone gaming revenues passed 1 billion dollars in 2003, and passed 5 billion dollars in 2007, accounting for a quarter of all videogaming software revenues. More advanced phones came to the market such as the N-Series smartphone by Nokia in 2005 and the iPhone by Apple in 2007 which strongly added to the appeal of mobile phone gaming. In 2008 Nokia revised the N-Gage brand but now as a software library of games to its top-end phones. At Apple's App Store in 2008, more than half of all applications sold were games for the iPhone.

In the sixth generation of video game consoles, Sega exited the hardware market, Nintendo fell behind, Sony solidified its lead in the industry, and Microsoft developed a gaming console.

The Dreamcast, introduced in 1998, opened the generation but failed to become a hit, and faded from the market before the subsequent consoles appeared. Sega retreated to the third-party game market. Sony opened the new decade with the PlayStation 2, which would go on to become the top-selling sixth generation console. Nintendo followed a year later with the GameCube, their first disc-based console. Though more or less equal with Sony's system in technical specifications, the GameCube suffered from a lack of third-party games compared to Sony's system, and was hindered by a reputation for being a "kid's console" and lacking the mature games the current market appeared to want.

Before the end of 2001, Microsoft Corporation, best known for its Windows operating system and its professional productivity software, judged the console market profitable for entry with the decline of Sega and Nintendo, and introduced the Xbox. Based on Intel's Pentium III CPU, the console used much PC technology to leverage its internal development. In order to maintain its hold in the market, Microsoft reportedly sold the Xbox at a significant lossand concentrated on drawing profit from game development and publishing. Shortly after its release in November 2001 Bungie Studio's Halo: Combat Evolved instantly became the driving point of the Xbox's success, and the Halo Series would later go on to become one of the most successful console shooters of all time. By the end of the generation, the Xbox had drawn even with the GameCube in sales globally, but since nearly all of its sales were in North America, it pushed Nintendo into third place in the American market.

Nintendo still dominated the handheld gaming market in this generation. The Game Boy Color, in 1998, and then the Game Boy Advance in 2001, maintained Nintendo's market position. Finnish cellphone maker Nokia entered the handheld scene with the N-Gage, but it failed to win a significant following.

One significant feature of this generation was various manufacturers' renewed fondness for add-on peripheral controllers. While novel controllers weren't new, as Nintendo featured several with the original NES, and PC gaming has previously featured driving wheels and aircraft joysticks, for the first time console games using them became some of the biggest hits of the decade. Konami introduced a soft plastic mat versions of its foot controls for its Dance Dance Revolution franchise in 1998. Sega bundled controllers that looked like maracas with Samba de Amigo. Nintendo introduced a bongo controller for a few titles in its Donkey Kong franchise. Publisher RedOctane introduced Guitar Hero and its guitar-shaped controller for the PlayStation 2.

As affordable broadband Internet connectivity spread, many publishers turned to online gaming as a way of innovating. Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPGs) featured significant titles for the PC market like World of Warcraft and Ultima Online. Historically, console based MMORPGs have been few in number due to the lack of bundled Internet connectivity options for the platforms. This made it hard to establish a large enough subscription community to justify the development costs. The first significant console MMORPGs were Phantasy Star Online on the Sega Dreamcast (which had a built in modem and after market Ethernet adapter), followed by Final Fantasy XI for the Sony PlayStation 2 (an aftermarket Ethernet adapter was shipped to support this game). Every major platform released since the Dreamcast has ether been bundled with the ability to support an Internet connection or has had the option available as an aftermarket add-on.

Beginning with PCs, a new trend in casual gaming, games with limited complexity that were designed for shortened or impromptu play sessions, began to draw attention from the industry. Many were puzzle games, such as Popcap's Bejeweled and Diner Dash, while others were games with a more relaxed pace and open-ended play. The biggest hit was The Sims by Maxis, which went on to become the best selling computer game of all time, surpassing Myst..

Console gaming largely continued the trend established by the PlayStation toward increasingly complex, sophisticated, and adult-oriented gameplay. Most of the successful sixth-generation console games were games rated T and M by the ESRB, including many now-classic gaming franchises such as Halo, Resident Evil, and Grand Theft Auto, the latter of which was notable for both its success and its notoriety. Even Nintendo, widely known for its aversion to adult content (with very few exceptions most notably Conker's Bad Fur Day for the Nintendo 64), published its first M-rated game, Silicon Knights's Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and the GameCube was the temporary exclusive platform for Capcom's Resident Evil 4. This trend in hardcore console gaming would partially be reversed with the 7th generation release of the Wii.

A major rift opened in console gaming philosophy and design in the seventh generation, with some calling the identification of video game "generations" questionable and arbitrary, while PC gaming began to go into relative decline as major publishers steered their efforts to consoles.

The generation opened early for handheld consoles, as Nintendo introduced their Nintendo DS and Sony premiered the PlayStation Portable (PSP) within a month of each other in 2004. While the PSP boasted superior graphics and power, following a trend established since the mid 1980s, Nintendo gambled on a lower-power design but featuring a novel control interface. The DS's two screens, one of which was touch-sensitive, proved extremely popular with consumers, especially young kids and middle-aged gamers, who were drawn to the device by Nintendo's Nintendogs and Brain Age series, respectively. While the PSP attracted a significant portion of veteran gamers, the DS allowed Nintendo to continue its dominance in handheld gaming. Nintendo updated their line with the Nintendo DS Lite in 2006, and the Nintendo DSi in 2008 (Japan) and 2009 (Americas and Europe), while Sony updated the PSP in 2007. Nokia withdrew their N-Gage platform in 2004 but reintroduced it in late 2008. Now with the release of the Apple Inc. iPhone and iPod Touch, 3D gaming is more portable than ever and offers a range of new sensors, including but not limited to, the accelerometer.

In console gaming, Microsoft stepped forward first in November 2005 with the Xbox 360, and Sony followed in 2006 with the PlayStation 3, released in Europe in March 2007. Setting the technology standard for the generation, both featured high-definition graphics, large hard disk-based secondary storage, integrated networking, and a companion on-line gameplay and sales platform, with Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, respectively. Both were formidable systems that were the first to challenge personal computers in power while offering a relatively modest price compared to them. While both were more expensive than most past consoles, the Xbox 360 enjoyed a substantial price edge, selling for either $300 or $400 depending on model, while the PS3 launched with models priced at $500 and $600. The top-of-the-line PS3 was the most expensive game console on the market since Panasonic's version of the 3DO, which was around $700.

Nintendo was not expected to compete credibly at all, with most industry analysts predicting a distant third place finish for its new Revolution console, later renamed Wii, introduced a couple days after the PS3, and one even going so far as to predict a market exit similar to Sega. Instead, Nintendo pulled off an industry turnarounds in business. While the Wii's power was greater than that of last generation's consoles, it was clearly behind Microsoft and Sonys' consoles, and Nintendo themselves refused to publish or confirm technical specifications, instead touting the console's new control scheme, featuring motion-based control and infrared-based pointing. Many gamers, publishers, and analysts dismissed the Wii as an underpowered curiosity, but were surprised as the console sold out through the 2006 Christmas season, and remained so through the next 18 months, becoming the fastest selling game console in most of the world's gaming markets.

With high definition video an undeniable hit with veteran gamers seeking immersive experiences, expectations for visuals in games along with the increasing complexity of productions resulted in a spike in the development budgets of gaming companies. While many game studios saw their Xbox 360 projects pay off, the unexpected weakness of PS3 sales resulted in heavy losses for some developers, and many publishers broke previously arranged PS3 exclusivity arrangements or cancelled PS3 game projects entirely in order to cut losses. Even so, high definition graphics and multi-core CPUs provided gamers with some of their most breathtaking experiences to date, including games like Halo 3 Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4, all of which were rated nearly perfect by game reviewers.

Meanwhile, Nintendo took cues from PC gaming and their own success with the Nintendo Wii, and crafted games that capitalized on the intuitive nature of motion control. Emphasis on gameplay turned comparatively simple games into unlikely runaway hits, including the bundled game, Wii Sports, and Wii Fit. As the Wii sales spiked, many publishers were caught unprepared and responded by assembling hastily-created titles to fill the void. Although some hardcore games continued to be produced by Nintendo, many of their classic franchises were reworked into "bridge games", meant to provide new gamers crossover experiences from casual gaming to deeper experiences, including their flagship Wii title, Super Mario Galaxy, which in spite of its standard-resolution graphics dominated critics' "best-of" lists for 2007. Many others, however, strongly criticized Nintendo for its apparent spurning of its core gamer base in favor of a demographic many warned would be fickle and difficult to keep engaged.

The way gamers interact with games changed dramatically, especially with Nintendo's wholesale embrace of motion control as a standard method of interaction. The Wii Remote implemented the principles well enough to be a worldwide success, but Sony also experimented with motion in its Sixaxis and subsequently DualShock3 controller for the PS3, and Microsoft continually mentions interest in developing the technology for the Xbox 360. While the Wii's infrared-based pointing system has been praised widely, and cited as a primary reason for the success of games such as Nintendo's Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and EA's Medal of Honor: Heroes 2, reliable motion controls have been more elusive. Even the most refined motion controls fail to achieve 1-to-1 reproduction of player motion on-screen. Nintendo's 2008 announcement of its MotionPlus module was intended to address critics' concerns.

Alternate controllers are also continuing to be important in gaming, as the increasingly involved controllers associated with Red Octane's Guitar Hero series and Harmonix's Rock Band demonstrate. Nintendo has produced a some add-on attachments meant to adapt the Wii Remote to specific games, such as the Wii Zapper for shooting games and the Wii Wheel for driving games. They also extended control capabilities to players' feet with the introduction of the Balance Board with Wii Fit, with third party titles from THQ, EA, and others that will integrate foot control coming in late 2008 and early 2009.

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List of The Simpsons video games

A screenshot of Konami's arcade game The Simpsons

The Simpsons video games are a line of official video games that use the characters from the animated television show The Simpsons. The popularity of The Simpsons motivated the video game industry to turn to the characters and world of Springfield. While critical and public reaction has been mixed, several of the Simpsons games did very well commercially, most notably Konami's arcade game The Simpsons and Acclaim Entertainment's The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants.

Simpsons video games have spanned all sorts of video game genres and systems, including The Simpsons Hit & Run, The Simpsons Road Rage, The Simpsons Skateboarding, The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield, The Simpsons: Bart vs. The Juggernauts and Krusty's Super Fun House. The recent generation has been somewhat more well-received by the general public, starting with The Simpsons Road Rage (based on Crazy Taxi): There have been two Simpsons pinball games; one released after the first season, and the other still available.

Vivendi Universal Games, the publisher of recent Simpsons games, announced shortly after the release of The Simpsons Hit & Run that there was a sequel in the works. However, no news or any development has been announced since then. The plans by Vivendi to create a sequel were no doubt cancelled when Electronic Arts announced in November 2005, that they would purchase the exclusive licensing rights to publish future Simpsons video game titles, including a potential tie-in to the upcoming Simpsons feature film, as Electronic Arts has successfully overseen many film-to-video game projects.

In May 2007, EA announced the release of a new title, The Simpsons Game, expanding the franchise to consoles including the Wii, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3. Also in May 2007, Microsoft announced the release of a limited-edition The Simpsons Xbox 360. According to The Simpsons Channel, Microsoft only gave away 100 units of the promotional system.

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Video Games Live

Video Games Live logo

Video Games Live (VGL) is a concert series created and produced by industry veterans and video game composers Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall. to help encourage and support the culture and art of video games, featuring music from over 25 major titles. Each featured segment is complemented by projected video footage, synchronized lighting, and on-stage interactive segments with the audience.

Video Games Live claims to be the largest and most successful video game concert in the world, having performed worldwide to over 100,000 people by 2007 . The concert's debut performance took place on July 6th, 2005 at the Hollywood Bowl featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Over 11,000 audience members participated in the largest video game concert to date. Video Games Live was the first video game concert to ever perform in Canada, The United Kingdom, Brazil and New Zealand. It is also the first U.S. video game concert to perform in Asia at the 12,000 seat Olympic Park Stadium in Seoul, South Korea.

The concert features a broad spectrum of video game music, including Final Fantasy, Halo, World of Warcraft, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda and Metal Gear Solid, as well as retro arcade games such as Tetris and Asteroids.

In addition to the music, VGL concerts also include video footage from the games, synchronized to the music and projected on large screens at performances. Due to the environment of the show, all footage is approved for all ages by the ESRB, meaning graphic violence in some of the game music played (ie: Halo, Medal of Honor, God of War) is never shown during a concert. Some VGL concerts may also include exclusive "never-before-seen" video game footage from games that have yet to be released. In contrast to all the other video games featured, SquareSoft has currently opted to retain exclusive performance rights to their Final Fantasy video footage, preventing it from being shown at the Video Games Live event. SquareSoft previously organized a competing series of Final Fantasy music concerts called Dear Friends: Music From Final Fantasy. Footage from the Kingdom Hearts series is also prohibited; instead, footage from Disney films represented in the Kingdom Hearts series are shown.

VGL also boasts energetic lighting (also synchronized with the music), special fx, interactive music segments with the crowd, pre and post show festival activities, and interactive onstage games for selected audience members to participate in. Examples include an onstage Frogger competition, and a "live-action" rendition of Space Invaders.

Video Games Live premiered with a sold-out concert in July 2005 at the Hollywood Bowl. Afterwards, organizers prepared the show for a 25-city tour of indoor venues, beginning with dates in Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC. Due to a number of external and scheduling factors, organizers announced on October 25, 2005 a delay of a full scale tour. Shows were performed to critical success in Seattle and Vancouver.

Having performed 3 successful shows in 2005, they re-launched with an 11 show world tour in 2006 in places such as the United States, Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom. Based on the success of tour in 2006, the show dates expanded to over 30 cities in 2007 and included such groundbreaking locations as South Korea, New Zealand & Spain.

VGL works with the local Visitors Bureau and Board of Education as well as the "Grammy in the Schools" program to raise awareness of the arts, music and culture by inviting classes to performance rehearsals, and "behind-the-scenes" tours as a way of introducing the industry to the youth. Students will also have the opportunity to speak with industry professionals, composers and musicians.

VGL also helps to provide Alfred Publishing with orchestrations and arrangements, enabling over 75,000 schools and universities across North America to play music from favorite video games. This includes arrangements for Drum Corps, Marching Band, and School Orchestra as well as individual instruments such as piano and guitar.

The show features solo performances without orchestral backing.

Pianists include Martin Leung and Lee Ann Leung..

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Square Enix

Cover of Dragon Quest VIII. The Dragon Quest series is one of Square Enix's most valuable assets.

Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd. (株式会社スクウェア・エニックス・ホールディングス ,Sukuwea Enikkusu Hōrudingusu?) TYO: 9684 is a video game and publishing company based in Japan best known for its console role-playing game franchises, which include the Dragon Quest series, the Final Fantasy series, and the action-RPG Kingdom Hearts series.

Square Enix was formed as the result of a merger between Square Co. and the Enix Corporation. On April 1, 2003, Enix legally absorbed Square, with Square stockholders receiving 0.85 shares of stock in the new company compared to Enix stockholders receiving a one-to-one trade. As part of the merger, many of the top officials within Square Co. assumed the leadership roles in the new corporate hierarchy, including president Yōichi Wada, who was appointed president of the new corporation.

As of May 2005, Production Team 10 was headed by Yoshinori Yamagishi. Yusuke Hirata left Square Enix in June 2005 to join Aquaplus, Yasumi Matsuno left in August 2005 for speculated reasons, and Koichi Ishii left in April 2007 to start his company Grezzo.

The business model of Square Enix is centered on the idea of "polymorphic content", which consists in developing franchises on all potential hardware or media rather than being restricted by a single gaming platform. An early example of this strategy is Enix's Full Metal Alchemist manga series, which has been adapted into an anime TV series, a movie and several novels and video games. Other polymorphic projects include Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Code Age, World of Mana, Ivalice Alliance and Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII. According to Yoichi Wada, "it's very difficult to hit the jackpot, as it were. Once we've hit it, we have to get all the juice possible out of it".

The standard game design model of Square Enix is to establish the plot, characters and art of the game first. Battle systems, field maps and cutscenes are created next. A typical game of the company involves a team of at most 200 people. Square Enix doesn't usually use other companies' engines, preferring to code from scratch. According to Taku Murata, Square Enix has settled into this game making model since Square's Final Fantasy VII in 1997 and did not try other approaches since, as Enix did not have any internal development studio. Similar to Sony's Greatest Hits program, Square Enix sometimes re-releases games under the Ultimate Hits label, a designation given to games that have achieved a certain level of sales, at a reduced retail price.

In 2004, Square Enix began to work on a "common 3D format" which would allow the entire company to develop titles without being restricted to a specific platform: this led to the creation of a game engine, named Crystal Tools, which is compatible with the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360, Windows-based PCs and to some extent the Wii. Nevertheless, Square Enix has also begun considering other companies' engines and programming languages, licencing Epic Games' Unreal engine in 2007 for use in The Last Remnant, and using the Squirrel language for the WiiWare title Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King.

Square Enix's main concentration is on video gaming. Of its properties, the Final Fantasy franchise is the best-selling of Square-Enix's properties, with total worldwide sales of over 80 million units as of 2007. Square Enix's Dragon Quest franchise is considered the third most popular game series in Japan after Mario and Pokémon, and new installments regularly outsell other games at the times of their release. Of the 43 million units of games in the series sold so far, about 39 million have been from Japan. More recently, Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts series (developed in collaboration with Disney's Buena Vista Games) has become popular.

In early 2003, Square Enix's U.S. subsidiary registered the Dragon Quest trademark, retiring the Dragon Warrior moniker, which was necessitated in 1989 due a trademark conflict with the now defunct TSR, Inc. In May 2004 Square Enix announced an agreement with Sony Online Entertainment for the Japanese publishing rights to EverQuest II. Square Enix has produced or is producing titles for most major consoles beginning with the Nintendo Entertainment System, though never on a Sega platform. Square Enix has historically developed exclusively for certain consoles. The company developed its flagship games almost exclusively for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, PlayStation, and PlayStation 2 in their respective eras. However, Square Enix is not developing all of its major titles for one console exclusively in the seventh generation, as they have done in the past, but will instead release the next major installment in the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XIII on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in North America and Europe, and has recently announced that Dragon Quest X will be released on the Wii. Square Enix has developed titles for handheld game consoles, including the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable. In addition, they have published games for Microsoft Windows-based personal computers, and for various models of mobile phones. Square Enix mobile phone games are available on the Vodafone network in some European countries, including Ireland, Great Britain, Spain, and France. Twenty five of Square Enix's video games were included in Famitsu magazine's top 100 games, seven being in the top ten list, with Final Fantasy X claiming the number one position.

Before its launch, Michihiro Sasaki, senior vice president of Square Enix, spoke about the PlayStation 3, saying "We don't want the PlayStation 3 to be the overwhelming loser, so we want to support them, but we don't want them to be the overwhelming winner either, so we can't support them too much." Square Enix continued to reiterate their devotion to multi-platform publishing in 2007, promising more support for the North American and European gaming markets where console pluralism is generally more prevalent than in Japan. Their interest in multi-platform development was made clear in 2008 when the previously PlayStation 3-exclusive game Final Fantasy XIII was announced for release on the Xbox 360. However, Square Enix has yet to release a single game for the Playstation 3 Platform as of today.

On July 8, 2008, Square Enix released their first game for the iPod, Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes.

Many popular game series such as Tomb Raider and Hitman game series are now property of Square Enix, after Square Enix's takeover of Eidos.

In 2001, Enix published its first online game Cross Gate in Japan, mainland China, and Taiwan.

Final Fantasy XI was first released before the merger by Square in Japan on May 16, 2002, for the PlayStation 2. In March 2004, Square Enix released the game worldwide. With the huge success from Final Fantasy XI, Microsoft had the game ported into the Xbox 360 in April 2006, making it the first Final Fantasy game ever to be on the Xbox console. Due to the success of their MMORPG, Square Enix began a new project called Fantasy Earth: The Ring of Dominion. GamePot, a Japanese game portal, got the license to publish Fantasy Earth in Japan and it was released in Japan as "Fantasy Earth ZERO." In November 2006, however, Square Enix dropped the Fantasy Earth Zero project, giving acquisition to GamePot.

A next-gen MMORPG code named Rapture is currently in development by the Final Fantasy XI team using the company's Crystal Tools engine.

The company has made two forays into the film industry. The first, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001), was produced by Square subsidiary Square Pictures prior to the merger (Square Pictures is now a consolidated subsidiary of Square Enix). Its box-office failure caused Enix to delay the merger, which was already considered before the creation of the film, for fear of associating with a company that loses money. In 2005, Square Enix released Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, a CGI-animation movie based on the PlayStation game Final Fantasy VII, set two years after the events of the game.

The company also has a manga publishing division in Japan (originally from Enix) called Gangan Comics, which publishes content for the Japanese market only. Titles published by Gangan Comics include Black God, Papuwa, Pani Poni, Spiral, He is My Master, Yumekui Kenbun, Doubt, Bamboo Blade, Soul Eater, Zombie Loan, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Other titles include manga adaptations of diverse Square Enix games, like Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts and Star Ocean. Some of these titles have also been adapted into anime series.

Fullmetal Alchemist so far is the most successful offspring of Square Enix's manga branch, with more than 30 million volumes sold in Japan alone. The anime series obtained great popularity and even spawned a movie sequel. Both series and movie are licensed to many locations worldwide (in North America by FUNimation Entertainment). The same occurs with its manga series, licensed in North America by Viz Media. Kingdom Hearts and Spiral were licensed in North America by Tokyopop; Tokyopop dropped Spiral, and the title is now pending release by Hachette's Yen Press, which licensed other Square Enix titles including Soul Eater, Bamboo Blade and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Other titles like Soul Eater, Sekirei, Bamboo Blade and Shikabane Hime also were adapted to TV, and a second Fullmetal Alchemist anime series is currently in production.

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Pac-Man

North American Pac-Man title screen, showing the official ghost names

Pac-Man (パックマン ,Pakkuman?) is an arcade game developed by Namco and licensed for distribution in the U.S. by Midway, first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. Immensely popular in the United States from its original release to the present day, Pac-Man is universally considered as one of the classics of the medium, virtually synonymous with video games, and an icon of 1980s popular culture. Upon its release, the game became a social phenomenon that sold a bevy of merchandise and also inspired, among other things, an animated television series and music.

When Pac-Man was released, most arcade video games in North America were primarily space shooters such as Space Invaders, Defender, or Asteroids. The most visible minority were sports games that were mostly derivative of Pong. Pac-Man succeeded by creating a new genre and appealing to both genders. Pac-Man is often credited with being a landmark in video game history, and is among the most famous arcade games of all time. The character also appears in more than 30 officially licensed game spin-offs, as well as in numerous unauthorized clones and bootlegs. According to the Davie-Brown Index, Pac-Man has the highest brand awareness of any video game character among American consumers, recognized by 94 percent of them.

The player controls Pac-Man through a maze, eating pac-dots. When all dots are eaten, Pac-Man is taken to the next stage. Four ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde) roam the maze, trying to catch Pac-Man. If a ghost touches Pac-Man, a life is lost. When all lives have been lost, the game ends. Pac-Man is awarded a single bonus life at 10,000 points by default—DIP switches inside the machine can change the required points or disable the bonus life altogether.

Near the corners of the maze are four larger, flashing dots known as power pellets that provide Pac-Man with the temporary ability to eat the ghosts. The ghosts turn deep blue, reverse direction, and usually move more slowly when Pac-Man eats a power pellet. When a ghost is eaten, its eyes return to the ghost home where it is regenerated in its normal color. Blue ghosts flash white before they become dangerous again and the amount of time the ghosts remain vulnerable varies from one board to the next, but the time period generally becomes shorter as the game progresses. In later stages, the ghosts do not change colors at all, but still reverse direction when a power pellet is eaten.

In addition to Pac-dots and power pellets, bonus items, usually referred to as fruits (though not all items are fruits) appear near the center of the maze. These items score extra bonus points when eaten. The items change and bonus values increase throughout the game. Also, a series of intermissions play after certain levels toward the beginning of the game, showing a humorous set of interactions between Pac-Man and Blinky (the red ghost).

Initially, Pac-Man's enemies were referred to as monsters on the arcade cabinet, but soon became colloquially known as ghosts.

The ghosts are bound by the maze in the same way as Pac-Man, but generally move slightly faster than the player, although they slow down when turning corners and slow down significantly while passing through the tunnels on the sides of the maze (Pac-Man passes through these tunnels unhindered). Pac-Man slows down slightly while eating dots, potentially allowing a chasing ghost to catch him.

Blinky, the red ghost, also speeds up after a certain number of dots are eaten (this number gets lower in higher levels).

A ghost always maintains its current direction until it reaches an intersection, at which point it can turn left or right. Periodically, the ghosts will reverse direction and head for the corners of the maze (commonly referred to as "scatter mode"), before reverting to their normal behavior. In an interview, Iwatani stated that he had designed each ghost with its own distinct personality in order to keep the game from becoming impossibly difficult or boring to play. The behaviors of each ghost have been exactly determined by disassembling the game.

Despite the seemingly random nature of some of the ghosts, their movements are strictly deterministic, enabling experienced players to devise precise sequences of movements for each level (termed "patterns") that allow them to complete the levels without ever being caught. A later revision of the game code altered the ghosts' behavior, but new patterns were soon developed for that behavior as well. Players have also learned how to exploit other flaws in the ghosts' behavior, including finding places where they can hide indefinitely without moving, and a code bug occasionally allows Pac-Man to pass through a non-blue ghost unharmed. Several patterns have been developed to exploit this bug. The bug arises from the fact that the game logic only performs collision detection on tile granularity. If a ghost and Pac-Man switch tiles simultaneously, a collision isn't detected.

Pac-Man technically has no ending—as long as the player keeps at least one life, they should be able to continue playing indefinitely. However, because of a bug in the routine that draws the fruit, the right side of the 256th level becomes a garbled mess of text and symbols, rendering the level impossible to pass by legitimate means. Normally, no more than seven fruits are displayed at any one time, but when the internal level counter (stored in a single byte) reaches 255, the subroutine erroneously causes this value to "roll over" to zero before drawing the fruit. This causes the routine to attempt to draw 256 fruits, which corrupts the bottom of the screen and the whole right half of the maze with seemingly random symbols.

Through tinkering, the details of the corruption can be revealed. Some ROMs of the game are equipped with a "rack test" feature that can be accessed through the game's DIP switches. This feature automatically clears a level of all dots as soon as it begins, making it easier to reach the 256th level very quickly, as well as allowing players to see what would happen if the 256th level is cleared (the game loops back to the first level, causing fruits and intermissions to display as before, but with the ghosts retaining their higher speed and invulnerability to power pellets from the later stages). When the rack test is performed in an emulator, a person can more easily analyze the corruption in this level.

Pac-Man and the ghosts can move freely throughout the right half of the screen, barring some fractured pieces of the maze. Despite claims that someone with enough knowledge of the maze pattern could play through the level, it is technically impossible to complete since the graphical corruption eliminates most of the dots on the right half of the maze. A few edible dots are scattered in the corrupted area, and these dots reset when the player loses a life (unlike in the uncorrupted areas), but these are insufficient to complete the level. As a result, the level has been given a number of names, including "the Final Level", "the Blind-Side", and the ending. It is known more generally as a kill screen.

A perfect Pac-Man game occurs when the player achieves the maximum possible score on the first 255 levels (by eating every possible dot, energizer, fruit, and monster) without losing a single life then scoring as many points as possible in the last level. As verified by the Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard on July 3, 1999, the first person to achieve the maximum possible score (3,333,360 points) was Billy Mitchell of Hollywood, Florida, who performed the feat in about six hours.

In December 1982, an 8-year-old boy, Jeffrey R. Yee, supposedly received a letter from U.S. President Ronald Reagan congratulating him on a worldwide record of 6,131,940 points, a score only possible if the player has passed the Split-Screen Level. Whether or not this event happened as described has remained in heated debate among video-game circles since its supposed occurrence. In September 1983, Walter Day, chief scorekeeper at Twin Galaxies, took the US National Video Game Team on a tour of the East Coast to visit video game players who claimed they could get through the Split-Screen. No video game player could demonstrate this ability. In 1999, Billy Mitchell offered $100,000 to anyone who could provably pass through the Split-Screen Level before January 1, 2000; the prize went unclaimed.

The game was developed primarily by Namco employee Tōru Iwatani over eighteen months. The original title was pronounced pakku-man (パックマン ?) and was inspired by the Japanese onomatopoeic phrase paku-paku taberu (パクパク食べる ?), where paku-paku describes (the sound of) the mouth movement when widely opened and then closed in succession. Although it is often cited that the character's shape was inspired by a pizza missing a slice, he admitted in a 1986 interview that it was a half-truth and the character design also came from simplifying and rounding out the Japanese character for mouth, kuchi (口) as well as the basic concept of eating. Iwatani's efforts to appeal to a wider audience—beyond the typical demographics of young boys and teenagers—eventually led him to add elements of a maze. The result was a game he named Puck Man.

When first launched in Japan by Namco, the game received a lukewarm response, as Space Invaders and other similar games were more popular at the time.

The following year, the game was picked up for manufacture in the United States by Bally division Midway, under the altered title Pac-Man (see Localization, below). American audiences welcomed a breakaway from conventions set by Space Invaders, which resulted in unprecedented popularity and revenue that rivaled its successful predecessor, as even Iwatani was impressed with U.S. sales. The game soon became a worldwide phenomenon within the video game industry, resulting in numerous sequels and merchandising tie-ins. Pac-Man's success bred imitation, and an entire genre of maze-chase video games soon emerged.

The unique game design inspired game publishers to be innovative rather than conservative, and encouraged them to speculate on game designs that broke from existing genres. Pac-Man introduced an element of humor into video games that designers sought to imitate, and appealed to a wider demographic than the teenage boys who flocked to the action-oriented games.

Pac-Man's success in North America took competitors and distributors completely by surprise in 1980. Marketing executives who saw Pac-Man at a trade show prior to release completely overlooked the game (along with the now classic Defender), while they looked to a racing car game called Rally-X as the game to outdo that year. The appeal of Pac-Man was such that the game caught on immediately with the public; it quickly became far more popular than anything seen in the game industry up to that point. Pac-Man outstripped Asteroids as the best-selling arcade game of the time, and would go on to sell over 350,000 units.

Pac-Man went on to become an icon of video game culture during the 1980s, and a lot of Pac-Man merchandise was marketed with the character's image, from t-shirts and toys to hand-held video game imitations and even specially shaped pasta. The Killer List of Videogames lists Pac-Man as the #1 video game on its "Top 10 Most Popular Video games" list. Pac-Man, and other video games of the same general type, are often cited as an identifying cultural experience of Generation X, particularly its older members, sometimes called Baby Busters.

For the North American market, the name was changed from Puck Man to Pac-Man, as it was thought that vandals would be likely to change the P in "Puck" to an F, forming a common expletive. Puck Man machines can be found throughout Europe.

When Midway released Pac-Man in the United States, the company also redesigned the cabinet's artwork, as the Namco-style artwork was more costly to mass produce. Puck Man was painted overall white featuring multicolored artwork on both sides with cheerful Pac-Man characters in different poses while Pac-Man was painted yellow, with simple artwork on both sides front and back.

On June 5, 2007, the first Pac-Man World Championship was held in New York City, which brought together ten competitors from eight countries to play the new Pac-Man Championship Edition just prior to its release on Xbox Live Arcade. The top two scorers, Robert Glashuettner of Austria and Carlos Daniel Borrego of Mexico, competed for the championship in a single five-minute round. Borrego was named Pac-Man World Champion and won an Xbox 360 console, specially decorated with Pac-Man artwork and signed by Tōru Iwatani.

Pac-Man is one of the few games to have been consistently published for over two decades. In the 1980s, it was released for the Apple II series, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, the Atari 8-bit computers, IBM Personal Computer, Intellivision, Commodore 64, and Nintendo Entertainment System (1987 and 1990). For handheld game consoles systems, it was released on the Game Boy (1991), Sega Game Gear (1991), and the Neo Geo Pocket Color (1999). Special editions and compilations include Pac-Man: Special Color Edition for the Game Boy Color (1999), and Pac-Man Collection for the Game Boy Advance (2001). Pac-Man was also included as an unlockable game in Pac 'n Roll for the Nintendo DS.

Pac-Man has been most widely distributed in Namco's long-running Namco Museum series, first released for the PlayStation in 1996. Namco Museum is also avaialble for the Game Boy Advance, PSP, and Nintendo DS. An Xbox 360 port of Pac-man was released via Xbox Live Arcade on August 9, 2006. Pac-Man is also available in its original form as part of the GameTap service.

On September 12, 2006, a port was released for play on the iPod music player. A version for the iPhone and iPod touch was released on July 9, 2008.

There have been efforts to hack the preexisting Ms. Pac-Man cartridge (as well as other variants in the Pac-Man series) to create the original Pac-Man for the Atari 7800.

Namco has repeatedly rereleased this game to arcades. In 2001, Namco released a 20-Year Reunion cabinet featuring Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga that permits the unlocking of Pac-Man for play. In 2005, Namco released a board openly featuring all three of the games on the 20-Year Reunion board in honor of Pac-Man's 25th Anniversary. The NES version later became a Classic NES Series title for the Game Boy Advance, and was also released for download via the Wii's Virtual Console service in May 2007.

Namco's wireless division, Namco Networks America Inc., released a line of Pac-Man games for cell phones in 2002, starting with the original arcade version and following up with Pac-Man game extensions like Pac-Man Bowling and Pac-Man Pinball. This division also launched a networked game, Ms. Pac-Man For Prizes, in 2004. Pac-Man mobile games are available on both BREW and Java platforms across major cellular carriers, as well as on Palm PDAs and Windows PC phones. There is a port of Pac-Man for Android which can be controlled not only through an Android phone's trackball but through touch gestures or its on-board accelerometer.

The Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man was developed by programmer Tod Frye and published in 1982 by Atari. It was the first port of the arcade game, Atari being the licensee for the video game console rights. Although it sold 7 million units to a user base of 10 million, this port's quality was widely criticized. Having manufactured 12 million cartridges with the expectation that the game would increase sales of its console, Atari incurred large financial losses from remaining unsold inventory. This was one of the catalysts that led to the North American video game crash of 1983, second only to the home video game version of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in terms of unsold inventory.

Pac-Man spawned numerous sequels, the most significant of which is Ms. Pac-Man. Originally called Crazy Otto, this unauthorized hack of Pac-Man was created by General Computer Corporation and sold to Midway without Namco's permission. The game features several improvements to and changes from the original Pac-Man, including faster gameplay, more mazes, new intermissions, and moving bonus items. Some consider Ms. Pac-Man to be superior to the original, and even the best in the entire series. Namco sued Midway for exceeding their license. Eventually, Bally Midway struck a deal with Namco to officially license Ms. Pac-Man as a sequel.

Following Ms. Pac-Man, Bally Midway released several unauthorized spin-offs, such as Pac-Man Plus, Jr. Pac-Man, Baby Pac-Man and Professor Pac-Man, resulting in Namco severing business relations with Midway. Some of these other titles were generally considered inferior and unimportant, serving to oversaturate the market with Pac-Man games.

Twenty-six years after the original Pac-Man, Microsoft worked with Tōru Iwatani and Namco Bandai to produce a remake of the game, Pac-Man Championship Edition. It was released for the Xbox Live Arcade on June 6, 2007.

Many unauthorized versions of Pac-Man, such as Funny-Man, were created to profit from Pac-Man's fame.

In 1982, Milton Bradley released a board game based on Pac-Man and another based on Ms. Pac-Man. Several other pocket games and a card game were also produced.

A group of students from the computer science department of Simon Fraser University had developed a "life-sized" Pac-Man system, using laptops and mobile phone tracking to track the location of the dots, ghost and Pac-Man. It has become a regular activity of Computer Science Frosh Week, and is usually played in Downtown Vancouver.

A real-life version of Pac-Man has also been played around the Washington square park area of New York, in a game-christened PacManhattan.

In 2004, Crystal Sky Pictures announced they were producing a theatrical film adaption titled Pac-Man: The Movie. It will combine live-action and special effects. The film was included in a $200 million deal with Grosvenor Park.

In the early 1980s in the UK, JPM released a fruit machine called "Fruit Snappa". Numbers on the reels move "Pac-Man" around a maze, eating prizes. It was released in 1982 and the Jackpot was a £2 Token Jackpot, and when the Prizes were raised the following year, the Jackpot became £3 and the machine was re-released under the name "Fruit Chaser". The Machine was identical in every other way to its predecessor.

Rapper Lil Flip sampled sounds from the game Pac-man and Ms. Pac-man to make his top-20 single "Game Over". NamCo America filed a lawsuit against Sony BMG Music Entertainment for unauthorized use of these samples. The suit was settled out of court, and the two companies issued a joint statement that "Namco and Sony BMG are pleased to have resolved this matter and we look forward to continuing our business relationship in the spirit of our mutual respect for intellectual property".

Guinness World Records has awarded the Pac-Man series eight records in Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008, including "First Perfect Pac-Man Game" for Billy Mitchell's July 3, 1999 score; "Most Successful Coin-Operated Game"; and "Largest Pac-Man Game", when, in 2004, students from New York University created Pac-Manhattan, a real life reenactment of the game, in which people dressed as Pac-Man and the four ghosts chased each other around Manhattan city blocks. Each player was teamed with a controller who communicated the player's positions using cellular phones.

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Video game

Vg icon.svg

A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device. The word video in video game traditionally referred to a raster display device. However, with the popular use of the term "video game", it now implies any type of display device. 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 computers to small handheld devices. Specialized video games such as arcade games, while previously common, have gradually declined in use.

The input device used to manipulate video games is called a game controller, and varies across platforms. For example, a dedicated console controller might consist of only a button and a joystick. Another may feature a dozen buttons and one or more joysticks. Early personal computer games often needed a keyboard for gameplay, or more commonly, required the user to buy a separate joystick with at least one button. Many modern computer games allow, or even require, the player to use a keyboard and mouse simultaneously.

Video games typically also use other ways of providing interaction and information to the player. Audio is almost universal, using sound reproduction devices, such as speakers and headphones. But other feedback may come via haptic peripherals, such as vibration force feedback.

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 January 25, 1947 by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann, and issued on December 14, 1948 as U.S. Patent 2455992.

Inspired by radar displays, 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.

Each game used different means of display: NIMROD used a panel of lights to play the game of Nim, OXO used a graphical display to play tic-tac-toe, Tennis for Two used an oscilloscope to display a side view of a tennis court, and Spacewar! used the DEC PDP-1's vector display to have two spaceships battle each other.

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. 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. These were followed by two versions of Atari's Pong; an arcade version in 1972 and a home version in 1975. The commercial success of Pong led numerous other companies to develop Pong clones and their own systems, spawning the video game industry.

The term "platform" refers to the specific combination of electronic or computer hardware which, in conjunction with low-level software, allows a video game to operate. The term "system" is also commonly used.

In common use a "PC game" refers to a form of media that involves a player interacting with a personal computer connected to a high-resolution video monitor. A "console game" is played on a specialized electronic device that connects to a standard television set or composite video monitor. A "handheld" gaming device is a self contained electronic device that is portable and can be held in a user's hands. "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 cabinet. These distinctions are not always clear and there may be games that bridge one or more platforms. Beyond this there are platforms that have non-video game variations such as in the case of electro-mechanically based arcade machines. There are also devices with screens which have the ability to play games but are not dedicated video game machines (examples are mobile phones, PDAs and graphing calculators).

A video game, like most other forms of media, may be categorized into genres based on many factors such as method of game play, types of goals, and more. Because genres are dependent on content for definition, genres have changed and evolved as newer styles of video games are created. As the production values of video games have increased over the years both in visual appearance and depth of story telling, the video game industry has been producing more life-like and complex games that push the boundaries of the traditional game genres. Some genres represent combinations of others, such as massively multiplayer online role-playing games. It is also common to see higher level genre terms that are collective in nature across all other genres such as with action or horror-themed video games.

Video games are primarily meant for entertainment. However, some video games are made (at least in part) for other reasons. These include advergames, educational games, propaganda games (e.g. militainment), and others. Many of these fall under the category of serious games.

Video game development and authorship, much like any other form of entertainment is frequently a cross disciplinary field. Video game developers, as employees within this industry are commonly referred, primarily include programmers and graphic designers. Although, over the years this has expanded to include almost every type of skill that one might see prevalent in any movie or television program including sound designers, musicians, and other technicians; all of which are managed by producers.

In the early days of the industry, it was more common for a single person to manage all of the roles needed to create a video game. As platforms have become more complex and powerful in the type of material they can present, larger teams have been needed to generate all of the art, programming, cinematography, and more. This is not to say that the age of the "one-man shop" is gone as this still occurs in the casual gaming and handheld markets where single screen games are more prevalent due to technical limitations of the target platform (such as cellphones and PDAs).

With the growth of the size of development teams in the industry the problem of cost has become more critical then ever. Development studios need to be able to pay their staff a competitive wage in order to attract and retain the best talent, while publishers are constantly on the look to keep costs down in order to maintain profitability on their investment. Typically, a video game console development team can range in sizes of anywhere from 5 to 50 people, with some teams exceeding 100. The growth of team size combined with greater pressures to get completed projects into the market to begin recouping production costs has led to a greater occurrence of missed deadlines and unfinished products; Duke Nukem Forever is the quintessential example of these problems.

Games running on a PC are often designed with end-user modifications in mind, and this consequently allows modern computer games to be modified by gamers without much difficulty. These mods can add an extra dimension of replayability and interest. The Internet provides an inexpensive medium to promote and distribute mods, and they have become an increasingly important factor in the commercial success of some games. Developers such as id Software, Valve Software, Crytek, Epic Games and Blizzard Entertainment ship their games with the very development tools used to make the game in the first place, along with documentation to assist mod developers, which allows for the kind of success seen by popular mods such as the (previously) Half-Life mod Counter-Strike.

Cheating in computer games may involve cheat codes implemented by the game developers, modification of game code by third parties, or players exploiting a software glitch. Modifications are facilitated by either cheat cartridge hardware or a software trainer. Cheats usually make the game easier by providing an unlimited amount of some resource; for example lives, weapons, health, or ammunition. Other cheats might provide an unusual or amusing feature, like altered game colors or graphical appearances.

Software errors not detected by software testers during development can find their way into released versions of computer and video games. This may happen because the glitch only occurs under unusual circumstances in the game, was deemed too minor to correct, or because the game development was hurried to meet a publication deadline. Glitches can range from minor graphical errors to serious bugs that can delete saved data or cause the game to malfunction. In some cases publishers will release updates (referred to as patches) to repair glitches.

Although departments of computer science have been studying the technical aspects of video games for years, theories that examine games as an artistic medium are a relatively recent development in the humanities. The two most visible schools in this emerging field are ludology and narratology. Narrativists approach video games in the context of what Janet Murray calls "Cyberdrama". That is to say, their major concern is with video games as a storytelling medium, one that arises out of interactive fiction. Murray puts video games in the context of the Holodeck, a fictional piece of technology from Star Trek, arguing for the video game as a medium in which we get to become another person, and to act out in another world. This image of video games received early widespread popular support, and forms the basis of films such as Tron, eXistenZ, and The Last Starfighter.

Ludologists break sharply and radically from this. They argue that a video game is first and foremost a game, which must be understood in terms of its rules, interface, and the concept of play that it deploys. Espen J. Aarseth argues that, although games certainly have plots, characters, and aspects of traditional narratives, these aspects are incidental to gameplay. For example, Aarseth is critical of the widespread attention that narrativists have given to the curvaceous heroine of the game Tomb Raider, saying that "the dimensions of Lara Croft's body, already analyzed to death by film theorists, are irrelevant to me as a player, because a different-looking body would not make me play differently... When I play, I don't even see her body, but see through it and past it." Simply put, ludologists reject traditional theories of art because they claim that the artistic and socially relevant qualities of a video game are primarily determined by the underlying set of rules, demands, and expectations imposed on the player.

While many games rely on emergent principles, video games commonly present simulated story worlds where emergent behavior occurs within the context of the game. The term "emergent narrative" has been used to describe how, in a simulated environment, storyline can be created simply by "what happens to the player." However, emergent behavior is not limited to sophisticated games. In generally any place where event-driven instructions occur for AI in a game, emergent behavior will exist. For instance, take a racing game in which cars are programmed to avoid crashing, and they encounter an obstacle in the track: the cars might then maneuver to avoid the obstacle causing the cars behind them to slow and/or maneuver to accommodate the cars in front of them and the obstacle. The programmer never wrote code to specifically create a traffic jam, yet one now exists in the game.

The November 2005 Nielsen Active Gamer Study, taking a survey of 2,000 regular gamers, found that the U.S. games market is diversifying. The age group among male players has expanded significantly up into the 25-40 age group. For casual online puzzle-style and simple mobile cell phone games, the gender divide is more or less equal between males and females. Females have been shown to be significantly attracted to playing certain online multi-user video games that offer a more communal experience, and a small number of young females have been shown to play aggressive games that are sometimes thought of as being "traditionally male" games. According to the ESRB almost 41% of PC gamers are women. With such video game social networks as Miss Video Game and Guild Cafe having a large percentages of female gamers, the "traditionally male" games are now considered cross-gendered.

When comparing today’s industry climate with that of 20 years ago, women and many adults are more inclined to be using products in the industry. While the market for teen and young adult men is still a strong market, it’s the other demographics which are posting significant growth. In 2008, the average American gamer has been playing for 12 years, and is now, on average, 35 years of age.

Video gaming has traditionally been a social experience. From its early beginnings, video games have commonly been playable by more than a single player. Multiplayer video games are those that can be played either competitively or cooperatively by using either multiple input devices, or by hotseating. Tennis for Two, arguably the first video game, was a two-player game, as was its successor Pong. The first commercially available game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, had two controller inputs.

Since then, most consoles have been shipped with two or four controller inputs. Some have had the ability to expand to four, eight or as many as twelve inputs with additional adapters, such as the Multitap. Multiplayer arcade games typically feature play for two to four players, sometimes tilting the monitor on its back for a top-down viewing experience allowing players to sit opposite one another.

Many early computer games for non-PC descendant based platforms featured multiplayer support. Personal computer systems from Atari and Commodore both regularly featured at least two game ports. PC-based computer games started with a lower availability of multiplayer options because of technical limitations. PCs typically had either one or no game ports at all. Network games for these early personal computers were generally limited to only text based adventures or MUDs that were played remotely on a dedicated server. This was due both to the slow speed of modems (300-1200-bit/s), and the prohibitive cost involved with putting a computer online in such a way where multiple visitors could make use of it. However, with the advent of widespread local area networking technologies and Internet based online capabilities, the number of players in modern games can be 32 or higher, sometimes featuring integrated text and/or voice chat. MMOs can offer extremely high numbers of simultaneous players; Eve Online set a record with just under 36,000 players on a single server in 2006.

It has been shown that action video game players have better visuomotor skills, such as their resistance to distraction, their sensitivity to information in peripheral vision, and their ability to count briefly presented objects than nonplayers. They found that such enhanced abilities could be acquired by training with an action game, involving challenges to switch attention to different locations, but not with a game requiring concentration on single objects. It has been suggested by a few studies that online/offline video gaming can be used as a therapeutic tool in the treatment of different mental health concerns.

In Steven Johnson's book, Everything Bad Is Good For You, he argues that video games in fact demand far more from a player than traditional games like Monopoly. To experience the game, the player must first determine the objectives, as well as how to complete them. They must then learn the game controls and how the human-machine interface works, including menus and HUDs. Beyond such skills, which after some time become quite fundamental and are taken for granted by many gamers, video games are based upon the player navigating (and eventually mastering) a highly complex system with many variables. This requires a strong analytical ability, as well as flexibility and adaptability. He argues that the process of learning the boundaries, goals, and controls of a given game is often a highly demanding one that calls on many different areas of cognitive function. Indeed, most games require a great deal of patience and focus from the player, and, contrary to the popular perception that games provide instant gratification, games actually delay gratification far longer than other forms of entertainment such as film or even many books. Some research suggests video games may even increase players' attention capacities.

Learning principles found in video games have been identified as possible techniques with which to reform the U.S. education system. It has been noticed that gamers adopt an attitude while playing that is of such high concentration, they don't realize they're learning, and that if the same attitude could be adopted at school, education would enjoy significant benefits. Students are found to be "learning by doing" while playing video games while fostering creative thinking.

The U.S. Army has deployed machines such as the PackBot which make use of a game-style hand controller to make it more familiar for young people.

According to research discussed at the 2008 Convention of the American Psychological Association, certain types of video games can improve the gamers’ dexterity as well as their ability to problem-solve. A study of 33 laparoscopic surgeons found that those who played video games were 27 percent faster at advanced surgical procedures and made 37 percent fewer errors compared to those who did not play video games. A second study of 303 laparoscopic surgeons (82 percent men; 18 percent women) also showed that surgeons who played video games requiring spatial skills and hand dexterity and then performed a drill testing these skills were significantly faster at their first attempt and across all 10 trials than the surgeons who did not play the video games first.

Whilst many studies have detected superior mental aptitudes amongst habitual gamers, research by Walter Boot at the University of Illinois found that non-gamers showed no improvement in memory or multitasking abilities after 20 hours of playing three different games. The researchers suggested that "individuals with superior abilities are more likely to choose video gaming as an activity in the first place".

Like related forms of media, computer and video games have been the subject of frequent controversy and censorship, due to the depiction of graphic violence, sexual themes, advergaming (a form of advertising in games), consumption of drugs, consumption of alcohol or tobacco, propaganda, or profanity in some games. Among others, critics of video games sometimes include parents' groups, politicians, organized religious groups, and other special interest groups, even though all of these can be found in all forms of entertainment and media. Various games have been accused of causing addiction and even violent behavior. "Video game censorship" is defined as the use of state or group power to control the playing, distribution, purchase, or sale of video games or computer games. Video game controversy comes in many forms, and censorship is a controversial subject. Proponents and opponents of censorship are often very passionate about their individual views.

Various national content rating organizations, such as the Entertainment Software Ratings Board or ESRB in North America, rate software for certain age groups and with certain content warnings. Some of these organizations are optional industry self-regulation (such as the ESRB), while others are part of national government censorship organizations. Also, parents are not always aware of the existence of these ratings.

The three largest producers of and markets for computer and video games (in order) are North America (US and Canada), Japan and the United Kingdom. Other significant markets include Australia, Spain, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, France and Italy. Both India and China are considered emerging markets in the video game industry and sales are expected to rise significantly in the coming years.

Sales of different types of games vary widely between these markets due to local preferences. Japanese consumers tend to purchase console games over computer games, with a strong preference for games catering to local tastes. In South Korea, computer games are preferred, especially MMORPG games and real-time strategy games. There are over 20,000 Internet cafés in South Korea where computer games can be played for an hourly charge.

PC games that are digitally distributed either directly or by networks such as Steam are not tracked by the NPD, and Steam does not list sales numbers for games downloaded through their service. Unauthorized distribution is also rampant on the PC.

These figures are sales in dollars, not units, Unit shipments for each category were higher than the dollar sales numbers indicate, because more software and hardware was discounted than in 2003. But with the release of the next-generation consoles in 2006, these numbers increased dramatically. The game and film industries are also becoming increasingly intertwined, with companies like Sony having significant stakes in both. A large number of summer blockbuster films spawn a companion game, often launching at the same time to share the marketing costs.

In Australia, the United Kingdom and other PAL regions, generally when compared to the US, PAL gamers pay 40% to 50% more for the same product.

As English is the main language in Australia and the UK there is little impetus for translation (although regional differences naturally exist). The differences between PAL and NTSC are these days irrelevant; most video displays run at least 60Hz. But there is a legal problem of regional lockout in Australia, with most DVD players release coming region-free to meet local laws.

But video game consoles are still sold fully region-locked in Australia. Some effort to increase awareness of the issue, specifically to Nintendo of Australia, was in the form of a formal report outlining the issues, published by Aaron Rex Davies. The report has gone on to gain a lot of attention in the public media.

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Source : Wikipedia