History of video games/Introduction

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Video game book icon

What is this book about?


This book attempts to capture the still short, yet deep history of video games in a form accessible to the average reader. For the purpose of completeness, this book also includes computer game and other automatic or electronic game history.

How is this book organized

  • Timeline - Offers a year-by-year timeline of video game history and related developments.
  • Platform History - Contains history related to specific platforms.
    • Standardized platforms - Covers gaming on platforms not mainly intended for gaming. Covers the evolution of computer, web, and mobile gaming.
    • Arcade Gaming - Covers topics specific to arcade gaming. Strongly focuses on seminal arcade games.
    • The section on Video Game Console History offers an enhanced glossary that focuses on the history of most major or notable game consoles and dedicated platforms. This is meant to also serve as a resource for fans of a particular console line, or as a handy reference guide for game collectors.
  • Specialized topics - Covers gaming history in specific topics that tend to be more obscure or interdisciplinary.
  • Gaming Culture - Covers the history of cultures in gaming, and how they change over time.

This book contains links to both internal and external resources. Dark blue links are internal links to Wikibooks. Lighter color links go to external resources, typically Wikipedia.

Who is this book for?




Gamers can learn a great deal about their favorite series and developers from this book. There are a number of surprising and interesting stories in gaming history, from humble beginnings to surprising twists. Furthermore, gamers may also learn about interesting games and hidden gems that they might have missed out on.



While this book may prove useful for a gaming history course, it has been designed to be of potential use in education beyond this field. This book seeks to weave a deep chronology of gaming history alongside interdisciplinary subjects when appropriate. As a result, this book may serve as a useful supplement in courses beyond gaming history.

Here are some examples:

  • There are many pictures included in the game console section. This allows readers to fully grasp the visual designs popular at a given time, making this book a potentially useful resource for an industrial design class. The functionality of these devices changed greatly as time went on, and coupled with the historical context offered by these articles, the included pictures may be useful for a course on industrial design.
  • Most console and computer pages include technical specifications, along with historic rationale for why a part was chosen if such information is known. A student could make use of this when studying a history of technology to see how commodity computer hardware has changed over time.
  • When possible, relevant economic, demographic, and geographic factors are discussed to enhance the learning experience of the reader.
  • Chapters are modular. This allows streamlined custom editions to be easily produced via Wikibook collections or other printable version templates.



This book seeks to offer interesting leads on video game history, which may be of interest to scholars of gaming related subjects, as well as more broad fields which intersect with this subject like popular culture studies, business management, and other topics.

Whenever possible this book cites the best available sources for a fact and tends to exclude anything non-obvious if it can not be sourced, or at least mark dubious "common knowledge" as questionable. However when it comes to more obscure subtopics, the quality of sources tends to diminish. Often, there are conflicting accounts of older obscure subjects, and this book attempts to preserve these viewpoints when it is not exceedingly clear that one is in error. As with any collaborative work, you should confirm what is listed here before repeating it, lest you spread misinformation through citogenesis.



Almost all console and computer pages include technical information, and many also include pictures of console internals. These resources may be of use for those working to preserve video game history or make repairs on old hardware.

In a longer-term view, the gaming industry is notoriously poor at preserving its history, and history which is not written about is doomed to be lost to time. Indeed, some have noted the similarities between the early game industry and the early film industry in their particularly egregious disinterest in preserving materials.[1] The most important platforms, people, and events have been well documented, but history does not only consist of the successes and legends, but less exciting topics as well. Many of the best sources for niche topics in gaming history are amateur efforts, prone to vanish and be lost to time. Though this book too is an amateur effort, its place on the Wikibooks platform affords it a degree of protection from the threats that face efforts spearheaded by individuals. As a free and open textbook, it is more likely to be distributed, used, archived, and even printed - assisting in the preservation of such information.



Understanding Historical Technology